Powerful Thumbs (and fingers)

We all like doing good things.

We all like hanging out with fun people.

Here in Northwest Arkansas, these two things have come together for #NWArkCares.  I’m part of the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers.  We write about all kinds of things and have so many great people in the group.  My gal pal, Jacqueline Wolven had the idea that maybe we could use our collective voice and social media power to increase awareness of a different issue each month.  Thus #NWArkCares was born!

September is Literacy Month and we have some great organizations and campaigns in our area that are trying to help people with their literacy, thus increasing their capacity for education, independence and success.

My daughter and I did a little late-summer cleaning and ended up with a couple of bags of books.  Thanks to my friend and fellow blogger Talya Boerner, we were able to contribute to the Free Little Library program.

  

The Ozark Literacy Council is a local organization that works, on so many fronts, to improve the area’s literacy.  They have been increasing the number of Little Free Libraries, thus improving access to books.  Check out some of the great designs from local architects: Ozark Literacy Council.

So, join us and the rest of the #NWArkCares crew and help promote literacy in your community.  Some ways you can help:

  • Educate yourself about the issue and find out about groups that are doing good work in your area.
  • Volunteer!  These groups need volunteers.  School reading programs need volunteers.  Local shelters need volunteers.
  • Financially contribute.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Maybe your neighborhood needs a Little Free Library.
  • Read!  Read all the time.  Read in front of your kids and to your kids.  Recommend books to friends and coworkers.  Encourage, challenge.  Make us all better.
  • Go be awesome!

Enjoy the second half of September!

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Oh Kale Yea!

I hope everyone is as excited about the warmer weather as I am and you are supporting your local farmers and buying all of their yummy produce.  My office is downtown so I have the luxury of being able to forward my phone, close a file and walk outside and shop twice a week at our market.  It’s a pretty great perk.  This week a friend came over to peruse my fabric stash and stayed for dinner.  She reminded me that she has a “million” food allergies, so would understand if I wanted to take the offer back.  I like a challenge and find that some of my favorite dishes have been born out of a challenge.  I had planned on making fish, rice and veggies and loaded up on produce at the market.  This included a big bag of kale.  As I started to prep, I realized that I had a lot of produce to roast with the fish and maybe I should forego the kale.  But we needed snacks!  Pinterest to the rescue and the kale chips would be had by all.  Everyone loved them, especially the kiddo.  So much so, that she asked for them the next day.  That’s success in my book.  Try them.  Let your kids make them.  You might be surprised.

Recipe:

Fresh kale

Olive oil

Salt/pepper

Cayenne or red pepper (optional)

Remove the meaty spines of the kale and tear leaves into desired size (bigger is more impressive).  Wash and dry thoroughly.  In a large bowl, add kale pieces and a small amount of oil (start with a tablespoon).  Massage the oil into all the leaves.  Spread out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (very important).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Jazz them up with cayenne or Cajun seasoning or even cheap sprinkle Parmesan (you know, from the shaker can).  Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.  I used the convection setting on my oven and it worked great.

Remove from the oven and you’ll have a plate piled high with delicate, crispy goodness. 

  Kale prepped for baking.

The kiddo in kale bliss.

Enjoy your veggies!
 

Micro-Wardrobe Contest

I’ve been organizing the sewing loft.  This means I’ve been moving large boxes full of fabric and trying to convince myself that it is totally reasonable to own as much fabric as I do.  I finished up a couple of commissioned projects and am ready to do some fun sewing before jumping back into a couple of overdue quilts.  I’ve also had fun reading about other sewing bloggers getting ready for Me Made May.  So, let’s have some fun!

For some lucky reader, they will get a custom summer micro collection from me!

I’ve pulled two palettes to choose from.  The top palette is Santa Fe and the bottom palette is Seaside.

 

How to win:  comment below with your palette choice and what your go-to summer wardrobe items are.  I’ll pick a winner May 1st and coordinate with you for sizes and styles.  I’m thinking linen pants, maxi dresses or skirts, summer cardis, tunic dresses, etc.

It’s going to be fun!!!

Grandma’s Bunnies

It’s been a while.  Work is busy.  Family is busy.  Ok, who am I kidding?  I’ve been binge watching Kimmy Schmidt and Poirot (don’t judge).

I’ve been doing some of my favorite sewing over the last week.  A friend asked me to turn some of her late grandmother’s night gowns into something for her two boys and two nieces.  She chose bunnies and since we are so close to Easter, it couldn’t get any cuter.

Making new things out of old things can be a bit of a challenge, but those things are easily resolved with a little patience and planning.  I had to piece together the fabric since the pattern I use has you only cutting out four pieces.  No worries, that’s easy enough.  I monogrammed patches for the bunnies and embroidered the grandmother’s name on one of the ears.  

All in all, a sweet addition to anyone’s Easter basket.





Everyone enjoy the first week of Spring!  My next posts will be about our family adventure.

Relaxing the Mom-Tether

During a recent school holiday, I decided to take the day off and only look at my phone/email every once in a while. Instead of sending the kid somewhere and heading in to the office, I took the day off and we played in the woods. I texted my #nodramamama friend, asking if they wanted to come over for a simple picnic, mud-stomping and sun-soaking. Invitation accepted! We made sandwiches, shoved fruit snacks, chips and oranges in a bag, grabbed the long-handled loppers and emergency whistles and walked out in the woods. Everything was brown, crunchy and SUNNY! We established home base, hung the hammocks for the kids and told them to go have fun.

There we were, playing in a little spring-fed stream with acres of rough-tumble fun all around and the kids wouldn’t get more than 30 yards from us.  We kept saying, “Go!  Play!  Run around.”  They just kept coming back or needing our attention or assistance.  And then I remembered.

The mom-tether.

That darn tether.  No matter how much we encouraged them to run around, explore, get dirty, etc., they just kept snapping back to us.

I shouldn’t be surprised.  We are great moms.  We love our children and want to keep them safe.  We try to keep them from running into traffic, ingesting toxic substances and watching smutty television.  But we were in the middle of the woods, in January, in sixty-degree weather.  There weren’t that many dangers.  They should have been running around, pushing the boundaries and causing the moms to ask, “Have you heard the kids lately?”

It got better.  Eventually the tether started to relax and maybe even fray a bit.  The kids became more comfortable in their environment and started to actually play.  I showed the kids how to build a dam in the stream (favorite pastime of mine as a kid) and before we knew it, the kids were covered in mud and they no longer “needed” us.

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I don’t have any huge mom-epiphany or the ever-popular list of the top things moms can learn from their kids or vice verse.  I do know this…for me and my kid: she needs to play more.  She needs more unstructured play.  She needs more opportunities to create things that aren’t immediately graded or judged against her peers.  She needs more skinned knees and splinters.  She needs more mud.

Thankfully, I can do this.  We chose to live in the country, at the end of the road.  We have a lot woods and mud and space to run.  We have great friends that will come over and eat bologna, mustard sandwiches and play with us.  The tether will get longer.  I’m not sure if it ever severs completely (I get a little teary-eyed thinking about that possibility), but I will try and encourage healthy exploration and independence.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll duct-tape the kid to my leg and make it through life that way.

Check out my good, #nodramamama friend, Sarah at Musings of Motherhood for her take on the playdate and a lot of other great stories.

Teachers Love Caffeine

I almost dropped the ball with the teacher gift, but I got it together and whipped something up the day before the party. I was pretty proud of myself until the morning of the party when I forgot the aide….argh.
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I had a couple of reusable ceramic coffee cups in my stash, so I fashioned a personalized quilted cup cover and added a monogrammed zipper bag. When I bought my embroidery machine, I had grand ideas of uber-artsy embroidered designs rendered from more uber-artsy photography and graphic design…. Nope, I just monogram stuff. Oh well, if it earns the kid an “A”, then I guess it was worth it.

Cast Iron Carnival

My husband and I love cast iron cookware, but don’t get to fully utilize our collection on our glass top stove. So, why not have an impromptu harvest party? The weather was gorgeous and cool enough for an outdoor fire. I dug some venison out of the deep freeze and simmered a stew all day. We made cornbread in the Dutch oven and sautéed greens that came straight from the garden, minutes before (the kiddo added a wild onion for extra measure).

The kids got messy with some jack-o-lanterns and ran around like banshees in super-hero costumes due to a misunderstanding by my husband about the V8 “energy” drinks. Of course, no outdoor fire is complete without roasted (chargrilled) marshmallows.

What a beautiful evening to finish a great weekend.

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