Repurposed Buttons

My mom made this adorable sweater for the little boy.  It is soft, warm and lovely, and he wears it all the time.  My contribution was to sew on buttons.  I was going to buy some, but the fabric store is not near home, and with a little guy to play with on weekends, a trip out there isn’t a real priority.  Instead I raided the bottle where I keep all the spare buttons that come with clothes, and found six buttons that *almost* match.  I think it works just fine.  (But my mom may want me to tell you that she would have used matching buttons.)

Planning for Christmas and February Goals

I just finished my scarf (yay!) and started thinking about my next project.  Then I thought… hmm since I already plan for Christmas in January by depositing one twelfth of our Christmas gift budget into out ING account (learned from Kristen at The Frugal Girl), maybe I can apply the same principle to handmade gifts.

Like many people. I have always dreamed of hand making fabulous, meaningful gifts for every member of my family.  Like many people, this plan has been great in theory, but fell apart in execution.  So, what about making one small thing (no pressure for it to be fabulous or meaningful) for someone else every month.  Maybe it could be a batch of stocking stuffers, or a knitted item for a friend, or in the later months of the year some baked goodie or homemade jam or chutney.  Maybe it could even be an art project done with the little boy.  Anyway, my job now is to pick one small project, preferably one that can be made from my giant stash of craft supplies and can be done in a weekend’s worth of free time, every month.  And then of course, to do it.  I’ll update you on my progress  (family members, that may mean there are some spoilers… sorry)

While we’re on the topic of monthly goals, I’ll tell you about a few of mine:

  • My creative project for February will be these magnets from an old Martha Stewart magazine.  I collected the caps a few years ago and, of course, never got around to finding the perfect pictures and printing them.
  • I’m in the process of decluttering my life a little in preparation for a big move next year.  This February, my sights are set on my kitchen and dining room.
  • I already wrote about my energy efficiency to-do list
  • Plan a first birthday party for my little boy (the much anticipated event is in March)
  • Make one scrapbook page for my little guy’s book.

Do you make gifts for everyone on your list?  When do you start?

My Magnificent Freezer

I have a large upright freezer in my basement.  We initially bought it with the intention to buy local beef or buffalo in bulk once or twice a year.  We are not particularly tied to eating organic everything – but I prefer to buy organic meat and dairy.

Since then, I got pregnant, and nesting manifested itself in cooking extra meals for the freezer.  At one point I had almost fifty meals in reserve.  I would highly recommend this exercise to anyone about to have a child!

It has been very handy since the baby arrived as well.  I home cooked most of his baby food in bulk, and froze little cubes.  I was able to make a ton of peaches during summer when I could pick them up in season locally.  I have also been able to store enough milk that my travel schedule didn’t interfere with my nursing goals at all.

We found that almost anything freezes okay.  I had great success with baked goods – especially muffins wrapped individually and then stuck in a large ziplock baggie.  Unfortunately the muffins were such a success that they were never around for long!

Other favorites include almost anything made in the slowcooker.  Most stews and soups freeze beautifully.  If it takes fresh ingredients stirred in during the final cooking time (such as cilantro or cream) I take out the freezer portion first, and then add those ingredients when I reheat the meal.  I have to confess that my early mommy brain often forgot and it wasn’t the end of the world either.

My top reason for loving my freezer though, is that it takes only 12 minutes to get from this

to this.  Hmmmm.

Energy Savings

Can you believe it is February already?  My theme for this month is finding meaningful work.  I am lucky to work in an industry I really believe in – renewable energy.  Of course my job has its fair share of tedium, political battles, and other blah, but for the most part I am excited about what I do.

I recently visited a geothermal plant in Iceland, and loved what they have accomplished.  Of course geothermal energy is not without challenges, but it was amazing how clean and beautiful the power plant was.  (I”m such a nerd.)  Since there are no active volcanoes or geothermal plants near my home, I think about reducing our energy consumption a little more.  Here are some ideas for finding meaningful work around my house this month:

  • Research a cover for our water heater (I was told this type doesn’t need it but would like to verify.)
  • Check that the temperature is set to 120 degrees
  • Redo the insulation around the storm door – we installed too much insulation and the door doesn’t close well.
  • Clean the coils on the refrigerator
  • Put more electronics on power strips and get in the habit of turning the power strips off.

With the baby still so young, we have been keeping the house much warmer than we used to pre-baby- but we do use a programmable thermostat and keep it as low as we can.

Small changes, but hopefully meaningful.  If you want to learn more, check out  What are your best energy saving tips?