Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green Gifts this Christmas

Green Gift Monday
I try to keep track of the The Nature Conservancy is doing. They're great. This year they are claiming Cyber Monday as "Green Gift Monday" to raise awareness of responsible and meaningful gift giving.

For some of you, this sounds ridiculous. Mr. McBrayer and I strive to keep in mind spiritual, economic, and environmental stewardship in everything that we do. Although our (well, usually they are my ideas that the husband is so sweet to humor) methods are probably seen as strange to many people. I didn't really think this until I saw the look on my husband's face when I showed him my sister's Christmas gift this year. Not only is the gift handmade but the wrapping is a paper Chipotle bag turned inside out with a cut-out snow flake on top wrapped in twine. Welp, is that just cheap or is it eco-conscious? Maybe a little of both?

I seriously did consider making sandwich bags, produce bags, and grocery bags from cloth and putting them together in bundles for family and friends so that everyone can go paperless next year - but I realize that those of you who actually want to go paperless have already done so. Don't worry, there will be none of that under the Christmas tree this year, but don't think I didn't contemplate it.

The best ways to "give green" this year, I think would be to buy hand made or to re-purposed (vintage/thrift), and try to buy locally. Also, it is a great idea to give to charities - that would go to a great cause, and no packaging or shipping or production necessary. And always keep in mind how you are wrapping your gifts.

Get creative!

If you're buying vintage and the thrift store feels just a little too cheap (or stinky-dirty?), try Etsy

For the coffee lover: Support a Colorado local grassroots business owned by two Christian guys who are trustworthy in life and in business. They even buy only fair-trade beans and roast them fresh just for you:

Just a few ideas for you to browse over. Feel free to comment with any ideas that you might have.

Monday, November 29, 2010

hey, Doons' picture is on the Salt Lake Tribune hiking blog today.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coffee and Snowflakes

I carried my special insulated "ccci" coffee mug in one hand, with Duvick's leash and poop bag in the other. Of course, the dog was pulling me around like a rag doll forcing huge, slippery steps in the snow. My shoulders have been hurting like crazy from a little confrontation I had with a few trees while skiing on Thanksgiving day. Duvick's pull was killing the shoulders and no matter how stern or sad I made my voice sound while trying to give him a clue, he just wouldn't let up. He's not as smart as I sometimes think he is - or maybe he lacks the compassion I always grant him. Either way, there was no understanding between me and the pup except for yanking from both directions of the leash.
Duvick loves the snow - not sure why he looks cross-eyed in this picture.

There were no coffee beans in the house this morning. And when I thought to hop in the car to purchase a lb. of coffee, I saw the sky dumping huge clumps of snow. I knew Mr. McBrayer wouldn't have been happy if I took the car out - the driveway is a lot more difficult to shovel once it has heavy tracks on it. Not to mention, the thought of driving out of my neighborhood on a snowy Sunday morning in Utah made me a little nervous.

So I put on my favorite winter woolens, insulated hoodie jacket and knee-high-rubber-bottom snow boots and set out on my own two feet into the snowy morning with Duvick to get of my favorite morning friend.

It was a beautiful walk. The 5 inches of continuously building snow was slippery in spots, but otherwise easy to travel on. I love the silent stillness of snow filled skies. It's amazing how the snow insulates the sound making the "crunch" of my boots and the "jingle" of Duvick's collar amplified - it's all I hear as we walk, save for a snow-blower at the neighbor's house in the distance.

As I walk, I have time to think about things. A lot is going on in our lives. We have so much to be thankful for. Every day I thank God for giving us the opportunity to live in Utah. I dread leaving one day.

Our local coffee shop is probably a little less than half a mile from our house. It's close. It's a walk-up joint, like Good Times. You should have seen the surprise in their faces when I tapped on their walk-up window. I didn't see any footprints in the snow there - I think I was their first on-foot customer of the day. They filled my mug to the brim with French Roast, gave Duvick a doggy biscuit and told me to "stay warm out there, sweetie". I did notice some frozen chunks of snow in my hair, but besides that, I don't think I looked too cold. In fact, when it is snowing and the air is still, it's usually pretty warm out (30ish degrees), and it was. I was a little too warm by the time I got home - my glasses were even getting foggy.

What an amazing start to a wonderful day of continuous snow (it's now been snowing for 12 hours without letting up - yay!). I'm not scheduled to work at the Aviary until Tuesday. Tomorrow is my buy groceries, and work for ACSl day, but I'm not sure my to-do list can keep me off of the slopes on a fresh day.

I hope you enjoyed your extended weekend. The husband and I definitely did!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Best Apple Cider Ever

Right now I have a batch of Apple Cider brewing on my stove top. It smells amazing.
Today the husband and I are stranded in our little house. We were supposed to be driving to Denver for Thanksgiving, but we were hit by an intense blizzard last night. This morning, we woke to a world of stillness, cold (8 degrees), and white. We are snowed-in and I am hoping to make the most of it (movies and apple cider sound pretty good, huh?).

This is my third batch of Cider in the last two months. It's amazing. When I used to work at ACSI headquarters, Teresa Bolton would have cider brewing all day on special days for the taking. And I loved it. I loved it so much that my first Autumn away from ACSI, I emailed her and asked for her recipe. I can't enjoy an Autumn season without it.

I thought it would be a great thing to share with you, just in time for your holiday.

Teresa's Apple Cider
  • One gallon of 100% Apple Cider
  • One orange cut into fours
  • Ten cloves on the peel of each fourth of the orange
  • Four cinnamon sticks

Brew for a minimum of two hours, covered. 
Leftover cider put back into original cider container and refrigerate. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Stocking

This year I finally gave in and made myself a stocking. I can't believe it has taken me this long. Well, I guess that I didn't have a sewing machine in Christmases past. That's a good excuse.

I wanted one that was not too elegant - just fun. And I wanted the top to be folded over with a coordinating fabric. I thought that this would be easiest to achieve by just making the sock reversible. 

It doesn't have a mate - Dooney uses the stocking from his childhood, which he insists upon. Which is wonderful. I could care less about matching Christmas stockings.

These were extremely easy, once I had the concept planned out (i used the same building theory that I had created for my sandwich bags)

I picked two fabrics that I thought were very cute and matched. Dots and stripes are a no-brainer. I drew a pattern on a piece of paper. One thing that I tried to avoid, is making my stockings in an "L" shape, so I made sure that my toes were longer/deeper than the heal of the stocking. I loooooove Rickrack, so I bought two colors that coordinate with the opposite fabric.

I traced my pattern on both fabrics and sewed each one together (except for the top, of course) with the pretty side in. Must be careful about the direction of the stripes. The stockings above look really long but they have to be because the tops are going to be folded. So I made sure to account for that in my pattern.

Then I left one inside out and turned the other pretty-side out and crammed one inside of the other.
Fold over the top, and it looks like this:
The husband insists that this isn't Christmasy enough - that the fabric is too lime green to be about Christmas.

Turn it the other way and you get this:
I like this one too.

 I used a piece of bias tape for the little hook. And I shouldn't tell you this, but I didn't sew these on at first because I wasn't sure how they would go. So I actually took a seam ripper to the area that I wanted to add the tabs and then sewed them in securely. Hopefully my stocking won't unravel. So both fabrics have the hooks. The hook on the green side is underneath the folded part of the stocking, so it doesn't get in the way of the inside.

Sooooo easy and fun. 
I look forward to making many more for future Lan-Dooney Jr.s some day

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow-woah woah woah

Woah baby. 


We woke this morning to "heaps" of snow (as my sis LeeAnn would say).

Did you see my post yesterday (i NEVER post on Sundays) - it was noteworthy.

And amazingly, Mr. McBrayer and I weren't shredding down the mountain. Nope. We didn't want to put up with the high winds and masses of people on the two open lifts at Snowbird. Instead, we liberated Duvick and cross country skied a few miles up the canyon.

And it was glorious:
Doons blazing the trail into the trees. East Fork, Millcreek Canyon

Winds and snow-dumpage. We were definitely experiencing the elements.

Doons tolerating my picture taking. 

Duvick in the distance. 
He was in heaven. 

I forgot my hat. By the time i got back to the car, my hair was literally frozen in little dreadlock-icicles all over my head. oops

And it's only November! I'm looking forward to a long winter full of beautiful days like today!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Get a load of this

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

I woke this morning to a beautiful winter wonderland! Six inches of snow at our house here in the city. Winter has hit us hard in Salt Lake City. And it's only the beginning. We're hoping to drive across I-80 to Denver in a few days. I'm not so sure that'll happen...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sweater Re-creation

Isn't the color of this sweater beautiful?

I love the color.

The sweater itself, however, I've grown a little apart from. It's thin (not as warm as I would like) and itchy and about 10 years old. I couldn't figure out why I still own it. I usually thrift my clothes often, and somehow this sweater is still in my possession. I remembered why I had kept it when the husband saw me thrusting scissors through the middle of it and said, "hey, that's my favorite sweater of yours". oh, whoops, no wonder it's still in my closet.

I did destroy that sweater last night.

And here is what it became:

Leg Warmers
 these used to be the sleeves 
 I got this idea from Mountaingirlclothing's etsy shop. She makes a ton of these.
I used the seam around the wrist of the sleeve to hold up the sock above the knee and I just sent a zig-zag seam around the top of the sleeve, which is what you see around my ankle here. It works nicely.

well, yeah. they look pretty funky. but i loooooove me some mittens, and I only have one pair that's not made for snow-contact. these will be just a little kiss of warmth during cool winter drives.
It was easy. I just traced my hand on a piece of paper and then cut through BOTH layers of the sweater's body with a seam allowance. I turned the pretty sides to the inside and stitched. That was it.

Hair Rosette
I'm trying to make hair embellishments with almost every type of fabric I can these days. It's fun to try new things. I like the idea of having some sweater love in my hair. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coat Rack

About a month ago, I shared a post with DIY Coat Rack ideas that I was collecting. We have nooooooo closet space in this cute little bungalow (seriously only ONE closet - in the bedroom). So I've been on the lookout for cheap coat racks. Like under $20, cheap. And as you can expect, I haven't found anything save a few hooks that screw into the walls, but we need much more space for hanging than a few hooks can provide.  So we finally chose an idea from the list of other peoples' ideas that I found via browsing the blogosphere.

Last weekend Landon collected some BEAUTIFUL fallen limbs while he was rock climbing with one of his buddies to use for our coat rack, which was inspired by one of the ideas from Apartment Therapy.

The weather here has been consistently in the 40's these last few weeks, so we find ourselves in hats and gloves and jackets every day. The winter woolens box has been out for weeks now.

Saturday we enjoyed opening day at Snowbird and came home with wet stuff.

Sunday I couldn't wait any longer. After waking and seeing our kitchen chairs laden with layers of jackets and the table spread with gloves, my procrastination evaporated and I headed immediately to the hardware store (well, not immediately - but right away after the coffee pot was empty).

 I don't know what these things are called, but they were in the electrical isle. With Mr. McBrayer's mad  handyman skills, we got this beautiful stick stuck to the wall.

So now, right next to the back door (where our garage is), we have a coat rack with our most wearable items. Now they are easily accessible and can dry, leaving our kitchen chairs free.

 All the rest are still in the dungeon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter Crafts

I don't want this blog to turn into a craft blog, I really don't, and it's starting to feel like it's morphing into that.
Right now, crafting is one of my favorite things. I especially am enjoying it since I am learning to use my sewing machine and since we have been really struggling financially because of my job situation - "crafts" seem to be a great solution to things that we want and need but can't afford. So, not only do I enjoy crafting a lot lately, but we also sort of need some of the stuff I've been making, in addition to my "going paperless in 2010" initiative that seriously involves a lot of sewing!

And things aren't looking to change much any time too soon, although I'll try to keep including updates and adventures from our lives in addition to the crafts.

Christmas crafts are underway. And I'm so having a hard time not sharing them with you!!! Maybe I'll have to write some posts and make the publishing date to after Christmas because I'm a crappy blogger at that time of the year and I really can hardly keep these handmade goodies a secret. But I don't want Christmas surprises ruined, so my crafty posts about them will have a "do not open until Christmas" publishing date.

Until then, look for posts about these fun winter-inspired crafts:

DIY Coat Rack

Sweater Re-creation

Christmas Stocking

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back on the slopes - Snowbird

Wow, what a weekend!

Saturday was opening day at Snowbird and it felt like Christmas.

Friday night, I had a hard time falling asleep with the anticipation of the next morning - our first day of skiing since April! I nodded off to the sound of Santa Clause perfecting the wax on our skis in the dungeon. 

We slept in Saturday morning and got to the resort in the late morning. We had no desire to stand in line with all the other crazies. After all, since it is early season, there are only two lifts open. And I knew that I wouldn't be able to ski an entire day yet - my legs could only handle about 4 hours.

We parked our car, crammed our toesies into our boots (i hadn't remembered them being that uncomfortable), and carried our shiney-waxed skis to the lift line. We threw our skis on the snow and clicked into the bindings. At the feeling of finally being on skis again, Doons and I looked at each other with huge smiles. Mmmmm, what a great feeling. We were happy.

It was a beautiful day on the mountain and the snow was surprisingly awesome. Not too crowded on the slopes, although we had to wait in line for a few minutes to get on the lifts (very normal but never had to do that at Snowbasin - ever). I was amazed at how easy it was to get back into my old groove. I'm pretty good at keeping up with the husband (or so he lets me believe, which is probably more likely).

Wow. So much fun! 67 inches of snow in the last 3 weeks, and we're lovin' it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chair redo

When we moved to Utah we got lucky. My sister had been living at my parents house for awhile and wasn't using her outdoor furniture that she previously used at the townhouse. So she gave her patio furniture to us:

It looks pretty good here in our yard, but up close the fabric is really damaged.

We are very fortunate to spend a lot of time eating outside. In the summer we eat two meals a day outside. It's great. But the furniture is getting old and weathered and quite frankly, ugly. The metal trim is transferring rust into the whiteish-gray fabric and it isn't pretty. 

Here's Doons waxing our skis this Spring. You can see the discoloration of the fabric from the rust.

So I thought that I could easily refinish these chairs. At first I thought that spray paint was the key. But then I realized that the chairs were in great shape besides the fabric. This summer one of the seats ripped, so I finally gave in and bought some outdoor canvas at the fabric store in a pretty paisley fabric. 

These take HOURS to refinish, so I actually only have one of the four completed. My goal is to have them all finished by next summer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Making Ruffles

Anna asked me to do a tutorial on making ruffles. So, here's the quick. And I learned this all from others through online tutorials.

Making ruffles is easy-peasy. 

First things first: you're going to making a long straight stitch with a loose tension

 You'll cut a piece of fabric as wide as you want your ruffles and make it as long as possible. Then start sewing down the middle of the fabric with your thread dangling off the end, no double-backing. 


 Then you will hold one of the threads on the end with one hand and start pulling/gathering/puckering the fabric back with the other hand
 Be very careful not to pull too hard and break the thread.

Once you get to the end of your fabric, you only need to tie a knot with your two threads on both sides since you are probably going to sew it to something else. If for some reason you want only the ruffle, secure your stitches better after your ruffle is achieved.


I did that horizontally across this knit fabric for a little embellishment on this headband.

This flower was achieved with the same technique, only I stitched not down the middle, but about 1/3 of the way across, turned it into a ruffle and then wrapped the fabric around itself in a circular pattern. Very easy.