Gingerly Made: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reusable Snack Bag

With Caitlin starting preschool at the beginning of the year, I have discovered how valuable reusable snack bags are. I've seen them all over the internet for a while, but haven't really needed them until now. It only took me sending Caitlin to school with Ziplock bags a couple of times before I decided to make my own.

I bought PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric) for a waterproof exterior. And used scrap fabric for the interior. I also used a supply of velcro I already had on hand.

I started out with fabric strips approximately 6" x 10.25". You can make it whatever size you want. And the velcro strip is 3" long.

Separate your velcro strip so that you have a fuzzy strip and a scratchy strip. Sew each strip on the short end (right side) of your interior fabric. I placed them about an inch away from the edge.

Make sure you reverse stitch at the beginning and end every time you stitch. You will need to do this through the project to make sure you have a strong stitch. These bags will hopefully be used a lot and need the reinforcement.

Place interior fabric on the exterior PUL fabric wrong sides together. Fold over at short ends to make seam. (I don't have a picture specifically of this step, but you can still see it in the next picture.)

The fold the entire bag in half with the interior fabric facing out. The bag is inside out. And stitch down each of the sides. Remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end. Then trim excess.

Your bag is finished now. Just turn it right side out and there you go. Or if you want, you can make it stand up by making gussets.

First you pinch the bottom corner so the side seam and bottom are touching each other. Look at the picture below for reference. Sew. I made my seam about .75" from the point. Trim excess.

Do the same on the other side. Turn your bag right side out. My finished bag is approximately 5" x 4".

Monday, January 30, 2012

Felt Heart Pillow Garland Tutorial


I'm not usually one to decorate for every holiday that comes along. Typically we decorate for Christmas and just a little for Thanksgiving. That's it. But a couple of years ago I realized that it really helps to make each holiday feel special. It also helps kids to pass the time and get excited for each holiday. I've been very slack about getting those decorations though. Let's face it, decorating the house with holiday decor is not essential and can be rather expensive.

So...I'm going to try to create decorations for the house without spending a ton of money.

First up. Valentine's Day.

What You Need:
2 felt sheets pin
2 felt sheets burgundy
1 roll 1" white ribbon

What You Do:

Cut out 16 hearts. (8 pairs) I did 2 larger heart pairs and 6 smaller.

Cut 8 strips of ribbon in various lengths.

Put two hearts together (isn't that so Valentine's - y) tucking a strip of ribbon between them at the top. Starting at the curve in your hearts, sew around leaving a gap to stuff the fiberfill.

Stuff your heart. This is a great place for your kids to help. I mean (and here comes the lovey dovey cheesey Valentine's stuff) my Caitlin fills my heart, so why can't she fill these.

Sew the opening closed. Try to sew over some of your previous stitching to reinforce the heart.

Repeat 7 more times.

Once you have all 8 hearts filled, measure out a length of ribbon to attach them to. I used the same length as my mantle.

Sew heart ribbons to long ribbon. I didn't measure this out either. I just eye-balled it and they came out reasonably close to the same width apart.

Hang and you've got a fun Valentine decoration.

This entire project cost about $5. I already had the fiberfill and thread, but those don't really cost much if you need them. I also thought if you had a large family, it would be cute to embroider each person's name on a heart.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Nightgown

I did it. Finally, I did it.
I made clothes!

I've tried sewing a couple of different pieces of clothing, a bath robe and a shirt, but something always happened to stop me from finishing. With the bath robe, I didn't have enough fabric because I misread the directions and when I went back to the store to buy more, they had stopped carrying that pattern. The shirt was too big, so I just quit.

This time I finished my project! Whoo hoo! I wanted to make Caitlin some nightgowns for Christmas, but I just didn't get to it. Imagine that. I didn't finish all the projects I wanted to do while in my third trimester or while I had a newborn. I'm such a slacker. But now that we somewhat have a routine again, I've been making time for some crafting.

Eating ice cream in her newly finished nightgown.
I used Simplicity pattern 2831. It's obviously a little loose on my petite girl, but that's ok. It gives her room to grow. I've really been enjoying sewing lately and can't wait to get to work on the other two nightgowns I have planned. Maybe I can scale down the width of the pattern to better fit Caitlin.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Birdseed Feeder Craft

I've been browsing Pinterest again. This time I found an easy birdseed feeder that Caitlin and I could make together.

The recipe I used calls for:
  • 3/4 cup birdseed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 small envelope of knox gelatin (I used sure-gel. Pectin, gelatin; it's all the same thing)
  • twine or string
  • cookie cutters, molds, or mason jar lids
  • wax paper

Cook the gelatin or pectin on the stove with the 1/4 cup of water until dissolved.
Let cool a little and then mix in birdseed. (If you are prepping for younger kids, it's best to mix birdseed and gelatin/pectin in a separate bowl. You don't want them touching the hot pot by accident.)

Set your cookie molds on the wax paper.
Spoon birdseed mix into molds filling them half full.
Tie your string into a loop
Set loop into cookie molds
Cover loop with more birdseed.

Let feeders dry overnight.
Flip over a couple of times as it dries.
Hang for birds to enjoy.

I would recommend doubling this recipe. 3/4 cups of birdseed doesn't make a lot of feeders especially if your cookie cutters are deep like my gingerbread man. This was a fun and easy project for Caitlin.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hayley at 3 Months


Has it already been 3 months since our little baby joined our family? Wow. In some ways it feels like it's been a lot longer than that! Sleep deprivation makes time slow down. And in other ways, it feels like just yesterday that we brought her home.

Here are a few things we have learned about our little Hayley during her first three months.
  1. She is a healthy eater. At her two month check up she had already grown 4 inches and 5 pounds! That's a lot for two months.
  2. She loves to smile at her mommy and daddy. She is still reserving her best smiles and laughs for us and is slowly starting to smile at others.
  3. Her fuzzy little head is so soft. Mommy can't kiss that head enough.
  4. She loves to sit and stand up (with help of course) and look around. The view from her bouncer is not enough for her. This sometimes makes it difficult for me to get things done, but hey, I get to sit on the couch with my girls. And it's so sweet to see that little baby propped up in Daddy's arms while they hang out together. Who cares if all the laundry isn't folded and put away.
  5. She is impatient!! Don't let this child decide that she's hungry for more than five minutes. If you think she's hungry, feed her now. Otherwise you are in for meltdown city.
  6. Swaddling is the best recipe for sleep. She rubs her eyes a lot when she's sleepy, but all that rubbing keeps her awake. Swaddling keeps those hands down away from her face and mean a better sleep for her, and at night time for us too. We only swaddle her when we notice she's sleepy, so she will occasionally fall asleep and stay asleep without it, but most of the time, swaddling is best.
  7. Her mobile is a source of fascination. That was her big Christmas present this year and she loves to watch those monkeys, giraffe, and elephant spin over her head.
Life with a second child is so much more than we expected. More crying, more late nights, more energy required, but also more love, more hugs, more kisses. Did you know just how much a person can communicate with just their eyes? I was amazed at how expressive our first child was and am equally amazed with our second. I am so happy to have this new little sweetheart in our family.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Introducing Gingerly Made

For those of you who have been keeping up, you know that I've been wanting to update my blog including changing the name for awhile now. I just felt that Big Dreams for a Simple Life wasn't reflecting the true nature of this blog.

Yes, I started writing with the intentions of keeping up with what Hubs and I were doing to reach our goal of owning our own homestead. But that is such a long-term goal that there are few updates to be had right now. More than anything, now, this blog is about our day-to-day lives and the things that we are making in it.

Gingerly Made is my reflection on all things that I, Ginger, am making in my life. Obviously crafts, gardening, and food and maybe less obviously my family. If you don't believe that we 'make' our families, I urge you to reconsider. Stay-at-home moms like myself often lead hidden lives, but they have great sway on our family, our communities, and because of that, our world. I teach my children (and they teach me) how to behave, how to live, how to view the world around us, to have self discipline. I help them learn more than just colors, numbers, and ABCs. Yes, we make our families. And our families make us.

So that is why I've changed the name of this blog. I had put off making this change because I felt like I would need to hire someone to help me with the design. But I ended up doing it myself. I have a small background in design, but was just scared to do it myself. So, whoo hoo for me!

The link for Big Dreams will still work, but I ask that you update your feeds to reflect the new name. it's just easier to keep up with after awhile if you do. You might notice the domain name has also changed. If you are still using the Big Dreams domain, you will be rerouted.

Thank you so much for your patience as I've been making changes to the blog and also for your continued readership. I really enjoy hearing what each of you have to say in the comments you leave. That's what makes blogging fun! I'm looking forward to this next year and sharing much of it with you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Excuse the Mess

If you see some strange things going on with my blog over the next couple of days, please forgive me. I am trying to work on updating.

Thanks for your patience with my mess.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pearl Headband

The other day, Caitlin was playing with an old pearl bead necklace that was missing some beads. She plopped it up on top of her head and voila, inspiration. It was so pretty that single strand of pearls in her hair.

It was really easy to make. You just need a couple of supplies.

5 minutes. 4 to heat up the glue gun and 1 to put the pearls on.

So pretty.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1st Day of Preschool

Wow! I can't believe it. My oldest little girl started preschool. Well, technically it's a Mommy's Morning Out program, but still...

A month ago Eric and I decided that it was time for Caitlin to branch out and start spending some time away from home. With Hayley's arrival Caitlin lost some of the individual attention she was used to of course. She started watching way too much tv for my liking. She was lonely for our attention and showed it through wanting to be a baby, literally. She wanted us to swaddle her and hold her like a baby. She wanted to play with pacifiers and her baby doll bottles.

Our church has been a great outlet. She loves going and playing with the kids there and the ladies who keep them are a second family. The only problem with that is there is only one other kid her age. She also has a little group of friends that meet at the library for story time and an occasional play date, but we want her to have a little more social interaction. Caitlin is a little social butterfly. She loves everyone and really wants to engage with everyone she meets.

So we enrolled her at Mommy's Morning Out at a local church two days a week. I love it! She's home in the afternoon. It's only 4 hours compared to 7 at preschools. It's the perfect choice for us.

She did great on her first day! Her teacher said she cried just a little bit when she realized that I was gone, but got over it super fast and went to playing. She used the potty - hip hip hooray! The only hiccup was that I packed her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and the teacher has a peanut allergy. Oops. So she ate a little bit of her other food, but really had lunch after I picked her up. That's ok though. Now I know and I'll pack a better lunch for her.

I'm so proud of my big girl!!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Hubs has been on a sustainability kick of his own lately. It involves guns and NOT going to the grocery store. Eric has been really interested in firearms and marksmanship for the past couple of years and now hunting. If Eric can hunt, that means he can provide meat affordably and we know that the animal it came from was 'raised' in it's natural environment. Deer is a very healthy meat because it is so lean and is a great alternative to beef. (Warning there is a photo below. It's not gory, but it is a dead animal and I know that can bother some people.)

My dad is a hunter. I grew up on deer and even helped when my dad brought home a kill. I can remember being in first grade and holding the deer steady (it was hanging and swung around a bit) as my dad cleaned it. For those of you who have never experienced something like that, yes, there was blood and no, it's not gory. It just is what it is. I even learned basic anatomy that way. I could identify what a heart, lung, stomach, etc looked like.

Eric however, didn't grow up with those experiences. In fact, when we first started dating and early in our marriage, I was a better shot that he was. That was a fun perk! We went to a fair BB gun shoot-the-target-out thing once and while Eric did well, I did better. He kept telling me that the barrel to his BB gun was crooked. Hee hee. And I surprised him when I won the girls section of a turkey shoot.

Things are different now. Eric has learned a lot about guns in general. I don't know anything about what type of gun is what, it's history, what bullets it takes, etc. I just point and shoot. Eric knows this stuff. He has taken safety courses (so have I). And he's a good shot too! He could be a better shot than me now. I don't know. It's been several years since I've taken a shot.

He has been so excited about going hunting! And don't tell him, but I am too. I'm really proud of him!

Eric's first deer
The week before Christmas he shot his first deer, a doe. He cleaned it, cured and packaged up the meat all by himself. We don't trophy hunt. If you shoot it, you eat it. Trust me, my dad made me eat some weird stuff. Can we say squirrel??

Deer hunting season is over now, but he is talking about going turkey hunting in the spring. I hope he gets some! We love turkey around here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Potty Training a Defiant Child: Part 3

If you haven't read the earlier parts of our story, you can catch up on our potty training journey in Potty Training a Defiant Child: Part 1 and Potty Training a Defiant Child: Part 2.

It has been two weeks since Hubs and I resorted to disciplining our toddler in regards to potty training. Caitlin was so defiant. She was throwing massive tantrums if we tried to put her on the toilet and then five minutes later would pee wherever she was standing.

As a mom, I absolutely hated having to punish for potty training. Not because I don't believe in punishing defiant behavior, but because I was sad that my sweet little girl would resort to it. It only took us two and a half days to conquer the problem though once we did. We haven't had to punish her for defiantly peeing since.

Since then we have begun a new calendar year, Caitlin started attending Mommy's Morning Out twice a week, and we feel like we can say officially that she is potty trained. Of course there have been some minor accidents. It happens. But overall, she is doing fantastic.

We still give her rewards and tell her how proud we are of her for going on the toilet.

I wanted to write about what we did to help our daughter because I was so lost as to what to do. I looked on the internet for other moms with the same issue. Searching for someone who had an answer. We had to do the opposite of what 'the experts' say to do. But what the 'experts' say is also the complete opposite of what has worked for people for thousands of years. We decided to use punishment as a way to help Caitlin get past her defiant toileting after hearing from many, many families who had to do the same. And their children are well-adjusted, healthy adults who are responsible and caring members of society. Their parents didn't harm them physically, mentally, emotionally, or socially by taking this route and I don't feel that we did either.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Potty Training a Defiant Child: Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I discussed how difficult it has been to potty train our oldest daughter. She is intelligent, independent, and strong-willed. At almost three years old, she is also going through a very defiant stage. We believe that not going on the toilet is a means of control for her. In a toddler's world they don't necessarily get a lot of control, but whether or not they go on the potty is one area where they rule.

After multiple positive methods of potty training including immediate and cumulative reward systems that didn't work, we have decided to use discipline in potty training. I know many 'experts' say not to do this. But we have known other families who have dealt with defiance in potty training this way in addition to being absolutely certain that Caitlin does in fact know when she needs to potty. We know because she can tell us when she wants to. She has looked at us, gasped, said 'no potty' and then immediately peed on the couch. This, among many other instances that has proved to us that she is physically aware of when she needs to go.

So first we tried time outs. Whoa that was a wrong choice. Time outs just led to massive meltdowns and didn't help on the potty front at all. So after fighting this route for a year, we decided that it was time to give spankings. I really didn't want potty training to have to be this way, and I suppose we could have just let Caitlin be and down the road at three and a half or even four, whenever she decided, she would just start going on her own. But we have two children now and this is getting ridiculous. Especially knowing that the only reason Caitlin was still using a pull-up is because she was simply being defiant.

We decided that after Christmas, while Hubs had a week off work, we would try putting her in panties again and really work on getting her to use the toilet. So after two and a half days of letting her run around the house with just panties, we told her that if she went in her panties again, she would get a spanking. This decision was made simply because of the outright defiance she was showing us and had been showing us for months. Hubs and I decided between us that spankings would only happen for defiance. Accidents happen and should not be punished. It was amazing the improvement that happened after only a couple of light spanks. (Please understand that in our family a spanking is only a light swat. We never bruise or injure our children! Spankings are given with out anger and accompanied by a conversation about why she was punished. They are also followed up with an apology from our daughter and lots of love and hugs from us.) She also continued getting rewards when she did use the toilet. The next day, day four, she went 3 for 5. She went potty when she woke up, stinky a little while later, then had two defiant episodes. We gently talked to her about it and administered the punishment. That night, she told us that she needed to go and did.

Day Five was mostly successful; 5 for 6. Her only accident was because she tried to hold it all morning so that she wouldn't have to go and sit on the potty. Finally, she couldn't hold it any longer and wet herself.

On day six, Caitlin was still resistant to sitting on the potty, but if we held fast and told her that she needed to sit and at least try, she would. There was only one accident again today, but it was a true accident. It was not an act of defiance and I count that as a victory. Day seven, January 1st, had zero accidents. Hurray!

I know that this is not the end of potty training. We will still have to be vigilant about asking Caitlin if she needs to go and telling her to go when it's been awhile. There are sure to be accidents. But as long as we have broken the defiance I am happy as a lark. My sweet little girl even told me "I like you Mommy" tonight, which means something totally different than "I love you Mommy." I like being told both!

Did this potty training method work long-term? Did we notice any negative consequences from our choice? Read about it in Part 3

Monday, January 9, 2012

Potty Training a Defiant Child: Part 1

Our intelligent, strong-willed, and highly independent little girl started showing interest in potty training when she was 18 months old. At 33 months she was still NOT potty trained!

She was doing great early on. She could hold it through the night most every night. If we set her on the potty at the right time she would go; inconsistently, but she would. I don't know what happened, but somewhere along the way she decided she didn't want to do this anymore. Caitlin would scream and fight us putting her on the potty. She started wetting the bed again.

Not really knowing what to do, we bought her some panties and tried putting her in those for a couple of days. It turned out that she started defiantly peeing. She would look right at me and pee in the floor. I really struggled with whether or not to discipline her for that or not. Everything I read about potty training says do not discipline only praise and encourage. So after she peed in my floor on the same spot three times in twenty minutes, I gave up. We put her in pull-ups and said forget it.

"She'll potty train when she's ready." That's what people kept telling us. I even stopped potty training for a while in case she was the type of child who needed to do it in her own time. I didn't ask her about it and had her change her pee pee pull-ups. I'd only help her with the stinky ones. She didn't seem to mind being wet or even soiled though. In fact, in the past couple of months, I had a hard time getting her to allow me to change her pull-up. I had to be very firm with her to keep her from running away when it's time to change her and I had to make her change the pee pee ones because she'd just keep it on all day.

We tried rewarding her with MnMs, we tried cumulative rewards with sticker charts. She loved these things, but not enough to go consistently. She would go before nap time and bed time, mostly because she would get to get out of bed for five more minutes. But in the past month, she stopped that as well. She still wanted to sit and get out of bed, but she didn't potty anymore.

We talked to her about being a big girl and using the potty. Was it because she still wanted to be a baby?? Sometimes she said yes, sometimes she said no. We knew that she was physically ready. She stopped playing and ran to the potty a couple of times.

Hubs and I were so completely frustrated with this! She was simply being defiant about it. She showed us multiple times that she was aware that she needed to potty, she was just too busy to stop and do anything about it.

Read Part2 and Part 3 to see what happened and how we finally got our child potty trained.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to the Gym

Any normal woman who has had a baby knows how difficult it is to lose the baby weight. I am no stranger to this struggle. I'm back in that awkward postnatal body stage again. I gained 44 pounds with Hayley when according to the doctor, I should have gained 30 - 35. And I'm still carrying around an extra 19 pounds.

It's tough to be here. I just had a baby and while I'm soaking up all that wonderful new baby bliss, I'm also tired and I feel fat. My maternity clothes don't fit and neither do my pre-pregnancy clothes. I finally broke down and bought a couple pair of pants in a larger size just to have something to fit right. Even then my tummy bulges over the rim of the pants. A.K.A. dunlap disease.

For Christmas, I received a couple of gift cards that I went shopping with and my mom bought me a couple of beautiful sweaters. Thank you!! But I don't just want clothes that fit, although that is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I want my shape back. I hate seeing my tummy in the mirror before I get a shower.

People compliment me and tell me that I look great. I appreciate that, I really do. But it's hard because I know where I was and where I am. People forget what you looked like a year before when your body has changed so much. I had frozen my gym membership during pregnancy and it picks up again this month. I am so excited to get back into regular workouts. Along with the physical benefits, it also means having some time to myself, sans kiddos, to recharge my mental and emotional batteries as well. Whoo hoo gym! Here I come!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolutions 2012

New Year's is the time when everyone makes all sorts of resolutions and I'm going to be no exception this year. In fact, I am writing down ten goals for 2012.
  1. Lose the baby weight: I froze my gym membership while I was pregnant. It starts up again this month and Hubs bought me three training sessions with a personal trainer. So we're off on the right track.
  2. Start Etsy shop: I want to make regular time for crafting so that I can build up a supply and then open an Etsy shop. I know I've been talking about this forever, but I really want to do this.
  3. Redesign blog:  I want to rename the blog (I've already got the name, but I'm not ready to reveal it) and redesign it hopefully in sync with the Etsy shop opening.
  4. Reduce overall monthly spending: Plans are to do this by reevaluating our budget and shopping at thrift stores more often. Any money saved will go into our house fund for hopefully one day, buying a larger property and having our homestead.
  5. Visit with friends more often: The kids occupy our time so much, Hubs and I really need to make a better effort to spend time with our friends.
  6. Go on one date a month: We've already budgeted/saved for this, so it won't affect #4. With two children now, it's really important that we plan time for ourselves sans kiddos. Some months it might be a stay-at-home date, others I have planned and budgeted for a babysitter.
  7. Reduce clutter in our house: This is a tough one for our family. Somehow we tend to amass paper. I'm not even sure where it all comes from, but it's time to toss it. I also want us to go through our belongings and if it's not something with sentimental value and we haven't used it in the past 6 months get rid of it. Also, Hubs and I made up 4 simple house rules to help us keep things a little cleaner.
  8. Get Caitlin potty trained: We're working on this one. It's tough, but I'm counting on the light at the end of the tunnel. More about this in a later post.
  9. Read one book per month: Time with the kids, date night with hubs, what about me time?? I've always been an avid reader, but being a mom has put a serious dent in my reading fervor. When we go to the library, I pick up kid books, but now it's time to start adding me back to the list.
  10. Spend more time in devotion: Last, but most certainly not the least. In fact, this should be goal number one, is time with the Lord. As a Christian, I need time in the Word and in prayer. It makes the biggest impact on my life over anything else.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was great! But it was also busy and a little sad.

Somehow it worked out that our family came to visit in spurts this year. Every weekend in the month of December was booked. First was Hayley's baby dedication service at church which of course family came to see. Then Eric's sister came to visit and we had an early Christmas with her. My sister came with her girls the following weekend and Christmas on the fourth weekend. And in between all that was extra choir practices for our church cantata plus the usual stuff we do.

We loved seeing each family member that was able to visit! It's not often we get to see our out-of-state family, so the time we had with them was very special to us. And while spreading the visits out let us enjoy everyone a little more than if they had all been here at the same time, it also left us a bit tired.

Christmas for me this year was also a little sad. One of my sisters already lives in another state and now the other one is moving too. She left on New Year's weekend. I'm going to miss having her and my nephews so close. I wish them the best though. I pray that they find happiness and success in their new home.

I'm really excited to start this new year! We have been working with Caitlin on going to the potty, and she starts a Mommy's Morning Out program two days a week (let's see how potty training and MMO work together). Hayley is growing quickly and will hit a ton of milestones this year. I can't wait to see her hit each of these and enjoy the sweet little baby she is at each stage. Hubs and I have also made some goals that will hopefully help our day to day lives feel more put together. I'll post about these tomorrow, so check for that. 2012 is starting out with lots of positivity and promise. I look forward to all the beautiful moments waiting for us as a family.
Blogging tips