Saturday, November 24, 2012

homemade gift ideas: for the little ones

with the way things are today, conscious consumers like myself are a) buying local or handmade b) making their own gifts or c) opting out altogether.

john and i have been blessed with many little sweetie pies in our lives who are too young to understand why we'd rather not buy them plastic junk made with slave labor overseas. so we'll purchase them books, buy them handmade, or try to make them something we think they'll love. here are some cute gifts that are inspiring me this homemade holiday season.

(click the image for a tutorial or etsy listing.)

also, some felt ideas from homemade holiday 2010:

i'm working on gift ideas for the big kids, which is a little more challenging for me. i'd love to know what you're making this homemade holiday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

homemade holiday preview

now that it's time to really get to work on the christmas gifts, i'm feeling overwhelmed. while my original plan to make 10 granny square purses with personalized journals was exciting, it's now daunting. i need to learn how to use a sewing machine to make liners for the bags, i'm not sure what to do for the straps, and embroidering the journals is taking much longer than i anticipated.

john keeps reminding me to enjoy it. i'm really trying. i also need to stop being so critical and so afraid that my projects won't turn out as cute as they can. why am i my own worst enemy?! you may notice the lavender blooms are incomplete in the first photo. i nearly cried and gave up on it all when the paper started to tear. but now i'll stop my whining and see if i can finish what i started.

homemade holiday tip #1: if a project gets too frustrating, take a break! go back with a refreshed attitude, and chalk your mistakes up to learning experiences.

homemade holiday tip #2: try not to wait until the last minute. if you can, find a crafting area where you can leave your work or easily push it aside, and get started! doing a little each day lessens the workload, and creating at a leisurely pace can be a great way to relieve stress during the holidays.

stay tuned for the finished purses and journals, unless of course i decide to throw them out the window, and in that case, expect a very nice rant post on this whole holiday in the first place!=)

Monday, November 19, 2012

reader input request

hello blogland! i've got many thoughts floating around for new posts. i've even started a few, but i'd really like to know what you're interested in reading. here are some ideas:

*healing with herbs: plantain and interstitial cystitis
*natural remedies for cold season
*animal-friendly eating on a budget
*what is agenda 21?
*the truth about aspartame
*what are gmo's?
*homemade holidays: handmade gift ideas
*meditation for beginners
*nobody asked me, but... (some rant-like posts, with a positive spin=)
*homeschooling ideas/kid related posts
*gardening 101

anything else? if you'd kindly leave a comment with what you'd like to read here, i'd really appreciate it.

i've participated in a second pay it forward and received a beautiful handmade necklace from melissa at sky minded and ever growing. if you'd like to participate, please leave a comment and i'll make a note of it. formal 'pay it forward' post to come after the holidays.

happy monday!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

local hurricane sandy relief effort

Would you like to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy directly? The local Notre Dame Club of New Jersey is working with the Coast Guard to bring food and clothing to 200 Staten Island families who lost their homes and are being relocated to Fort Wadsworth.

they are in need of:
  • clothes
  • winter wear
  • baby items
  • cleaning supplies
  • hospital masks and gloves

The immediate plan of action is to collect as much as possible in the next two weeks, consolidating the items on a weekly basis and delivering them to Staten Island each weekend.

Group 1
Drop point:  Westhampton
Before 8 pm   (driveway or front door bench)
Carlos and Maria Garcia
1 Greenbrier Drive
Westhampton NJ ,08060

Cell 732-991-5913. Maria
Cell 609-668-2896 Carlos

Drop point: Moorestown
Before 8 pm
Cathy O’Dea
237 St. Anthony’s Dr.
Moorestown NJ 08057
Cell (609) 670-8086
Drop point: Palmyra
Anytime between 3-9 pm weekdays
Anytime on weekend before 9 pm
Bernadette and Mark Russell
736 Parry Ave
Palmyra, NJ 08065
Cell: 856-630-3506
Home: 856-786-2755
Group 2
Drop Point:  Marlton, NJ
Can be drop off at anytime through 8 pm.  Everyday
Barbara McCloskey 
148 Preamble Dr
Marlton, NJ
Cell 609-980-3555
Home 856-596-3319
Drop Point:  Marlton, NJ
Before 7 p.m.  (please let me know in advance)
Marianne Rullo
Five Greentree Center (behind Bertucci's)
525 Route 73 North
Marlton NJ  08053
CELL: (610) 585-8893
Drop Point:  Mount Laurel, NJ
Leave on Porch, or Between 4:00-8:00 p.m.
John Glowacki
809 Charleston Road
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
609-923-5309 (cell)

Drop Point: Mount Laurel
Before 8pm
Michael Sofield
2402 Gramercy Way
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
Drop Point:  Medford Lakes, NJ
Before 8PM
Evelyn Warpus
40 Cochise Cir (off Dixontown Rd.)
Medford Lakes, NJ 08055
609-714-2322 (H)
609-238-49-48 (M)
Group 3
Drop Point: Blackwood, NJ
Drop off hours would be 930am to 7pm Mon-Sunday.
Kevin Dougherty
1271 Little Gloucester Rd,
Blackwood, NJ 08012.
Drop Point: Somerdale
between 4:00pm - 8:00 pm
George Badey,
708 Mildred Ave,
Somerdale, NJ 08083
609-820-4577 - Cell
(My police vehicle is parked across
 from home)
Drop Point: Cherry Hill, NJ
Drop off hours would be 930am to 7pm Mon-Sunday.
Kevin Dougherty
1205 Warren Ave,
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Drop Point: Cherry Hill, NJ
Anytime before 10pm
Sarah Daly
126 Society Hill
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
856-266-4638 cell

Detail: Leave on back steps near the back door
Drop Point: Turnersville, NJ
Anytime before 8pm. Leave on front step
Steve Klug
100 Georgetown Rd
Turnersville, NJ 08012
856-371-5275 cell
Group 4
Drop Point: Voorhees, NJ
Anytime before 10pm (please leave donations at front door)
Nicole & Greg Bergamesco
57 Holly Oak Drive
Voorhees, NJ 08043
856-305-3454 cell

Drop Point: Audubon, NJ
Drop off point -any time
Tracy Krug
103 S. Logan Avenue (at Merchant St.)
Audubon, NJ 08106
828-467-8010 or 828-467-2986 (cell)
Drop Point: Haddonfield, NJ
Anytime before 8pm
Lisa and Tom Keeley-Cain
314 Walnut Street

Haddonfield, NJ 08033
856-308-6156 Lisa's cell
Drop Point: Haddonfield, NJ
Anytime before 8pm
Dave Stavetski
309 Homestead Ave
Haddonfield, NJ 08033

856-261-3975 cell
Drop Point: Collingswood, NJ
8:30 AM to 8:30 PM
Mike and Margie Lamberto
120 East Linden Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108

Group 5
Drop Point:  Hammonton, NJ
Please take into our office area from 8AM-5PM
Losco Motors
425 S. White Horse Pike
Hammonton, NJ 08037
609-561-7775 or Chris Losco/Owner cell 609-517-3717

Monetary donations can be sent to:

Notre Dame Club of Staten Island
c/o Joe Delaney
64 Bloomingdale Rd
Staten Island, NY 10309                               
Ref: Hurricane Relief

Friday, November 9, 2012

echinacea propagation

the 2012 growing season may be over, but there's still work to be done. today i finished planting the echinacea rootings from our lone plant, with intentions to spread echinacea throughout the garden for years to come.

not only are the plants so pretty, echinacea roots can be used herbally for immune support. to prevent nasty winter illnesses, i like to take echinacea pills and drink echinacea tea daily. it only makes sense to try and harvest my own, organic and gmo-free.

the two smallest rootings weren't expected to survive, but after sitting on the kitchen counter in a bowl of water a few weeks, they put forth some healthy-looking leaves. in a flower pot they went where they will be babied all winter by our south-facing window. the stronger rootings were planted in the ground and in some outdoor pots sometime mid-october. more on that later; please excuse me as i now reminisce on how it all began.=)

three years ago and just a very novice gardener, i somehow managed to start two echinacea plants from seed under a grow light. no flowers were produced the first season - just plenty of leaves grown closely to the soil. that fall i kept one plant indoors and planted the other in the ground.

in 2011, several flowers blossomed from the outdoor plant. there were at least six plants clustered together in one delicious clump. i loved watching those plants grow, in awe of what came from the single echinacea that grew so measly the previous year, thinking how i'd almost given up on them!

the echinacea that stayed indoors produced only one bloom, though it was a beautiful one - one you may remember i liked to often photograph. unfortunately that plant died before it saw another season - i should have planted her in the ground with the other.

this past summer, the outdoor echinacea showed up in all its four to five feet of coneflower glory. my photos just don't do them justice. i want these all over my garden!

online gardeners say that echinacea plants benefit from a splitting every few years. this means the plants can be divided at the roots and then replanted elsewhere - no need to start the process all over from seed, saving a whole year of growing time and energy.

so a few weeks ago i uprooted the plant and began splitting. unfortunately, i can't tell you how to do it because i'm not even sure i did it right myself. in fact, it felt like i was harming the plant, ripping the outer plants away at the root. but the mother plant seems healthy back in the ground, and she's even putting out new growth, in spite of near-freezing nighttime temperatures.

we'll just have to wait for the spring to see if the rootings took. i planted so many all over the garden that i lost track of them. some are in pots, but most are in the ground. they were covered in straw because it felt like the right thing to do. fortunately they like water, i read, because hurricane sandy came to south jersey just a few weeks later and nearly washed them all out.

hurricane sandy update:

my family and i were so thankfully spared sandy's wrath, despite being at the heart of the storm on the radar. what a strange feeling to watch a hurricane projection headed straight for your area! we had all our provisions ready after stocking up for hurricane irene, so all i could do was keep the faith and pray. we're so grateful the storm didn't hit us hard. our power stayed on and the only damage done was to our amaranth and cosmos, which were on their way out anyway.

my thoughts and prayers are with those whose world was changed by the storm. lives were lost, and i'm reading horror stories of the prison-like fema tent cities the homeless victims are being placed in. each day i give thanks for my family and my warm home. we can't take our blessings for granted, seeing how easily they can be taken away. if anything good can come from such a tragedy, it's a change in perspective - to slowing down and appreciating what we have right now.
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