Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Natural Disaster and Change of Perspective

I haven't posted to this blog in such a long time that I have had difficulty in knowing when and where to start. There has been so much going on in my life lately that the thought of documenting it all has been daunting and overwhelming. I'm feeling called to start now and will hopefully post more in the near future. My thought is to start with the most recent events and work my way back...

On Sunday, July 26th a massive forest fire broke out in the mountains near our home. The Las Conchas fire grew to 46,000 acres overnight and quickly became the largest forest fire in New Mexico state history. The fire has now burned 127,000 acres and is 37% contained. Although no structures in Los Alamos county were burned and all residents and fire crew have been kept safe, the past week has been one of uncertainty.

I live in White Rock, a small suburb of Los Alamos, and while Los Alamos was under a mandatory evacuation for nearly a week, we were fortunate to only be under voluntary. The boys and I did stay with Grandma and Grandpa in Santa Fe for two nights in the beginning when the fire was still very unpredictable and the smoke was intense. My husband stayed in our town with his elderly father and our four animals.

Packing for the evacuation, especially not knowing how long it would last or what the outcome would be, really helped put some things into perspective.

:: What is irreplaceable? My family, photo albums, small trinkets and momentos given to me by loved ones no longer with me

:: What is important for my health and my childrens' health? Prescription medication, medical records

:: What would be very inconvenient if lost? Birth certificates, social security cards, important phone numbers, cell phone, contact lenses, my computer and camera, a couple changes of clothes

:: What will bring my children comfort during this time? They each had one special stuffy they brought

:: What will bring me comfort during this time? a book I'm currently reading and a knitting project

When we left our home my Subaru Forester was about half full of belongings. If I really thought about "necessities" vs. "conveniences" my car would have carried far less. In the coming weeks, I hope to post more about my thoughts regarding necessities, conveniences, and what really helps a person/family thrive and grow. I also hope to share what has been inspirational to me lately.

We were fortunate to have a house to come home to several days later. In the end, these two little guys are all that really matter to me:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday: DIY Clothing?

One of my many goals (fantasies?) is to start making, altering, upcycling my own clothing. I really don't believe that I have great fashion sense, but there is plenty of inspiration out there to help me along the way. Of course I'd like to express my creativity, but this goal of mine is also environmentally and financially motivated.

My first project: Rosa's Sleeveless Cardi (Ravelry link) from Emma Fassio Knitting (there's a pdf link to the pattern on the right sidebar). I did have to make some adjustments since my gauge is different, but hopefully it will work out in the end! I'm using a bamboo/wool blend yarn, so this little top should be a great layering piece this spring. Hopefully I'll be able to finish it before July! :)

Do you have any favorite clothing patterns/tutorials/ideas? I remember seeing diy-clothing challenges before, but can't seem to find them now.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Great Finds

Elderberry syrup recipe and testimonial
The elderberry syrup tastes much better than cough syrup!
Felt Valentine's hearts
I'm planning on making these for the boys for Valentine's Day. They love putting items in little pockets.
February Simple Living Challenge: Pick 5
I'm proud to admit that I got a head-start this weekend when I cleaned out the boys' rooms!
Creative Play for Your Toddler
This is my new favorite book. It has the best of both worlds of theory and projects. I can't wait to get started!
Wee Folk Art's Preschool/Kindergarten Spring Curriculum
Looking ahead to the spring... Wee Folk Art also has some great tutorials. I am grateful for the sharing of ideas in this free curriculum e-book.

Have you stumbled across any great finds lately? Please share!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Baby, it's Cold Outside!

(This is actually a picture from a year ago, but it gets the point across!)

This past week has been a difficult one for us, but we've also been able to count our blessings through it all. Much of the state has experienced record lows over the last couple of days; yesterday our high here in Los Alamos was 7 degrees F. We've been without hot water for several days and will continue to be without for several more since we discovered a broken pipe this afternoon. As mentioned above, however, we do have much to be thankful for:

Our natural gas has remained on (much of northern New Mexico will be without natural gas--our main heating source--through Sunday)

Our wood stove has helped keep us toasty, and we have plenty of fire wood *just in case*

We have cold water

We have family and friends who have offered us their showers and washing machines

The plumber who was here yesterday installed two valves on our pipes to turn off in case of an emergency--we used them today when we discovered the broken pipe in the attic

I've been heating all of our water on the stove. As I fill sinks for dish-washing and bathing, I feel a bit like Ma from the Little House books (ok, so I know that I still have far more luxuries and conveniences than Ma!) Within two days I've already changed the amount of dishes and clothes we use. We've also been bathing far less frequently. All of this really has me thinking about our luxuries and conveniences. How much do we really need, and what can we do without? How long can one pair of jeans last? How many times a day can I reuse the same cup? How long can I go without a shower? :)

I've also been thinking about worst-case-scenario situations, including all of the "what ifs" of life: what if our electricity went out for a week? What if we had no water? What if we needed to live off of what was in our pantry for several months?

I do not want to live in fear, but I also want to be prepared. I've been interested in self-sufficiency for a while now, but now I want to kick it up a notch.

I once read in a survivalist-type book that the first part of being prepared is living in a clutter-free and organized home. That way, if disaster strikes, you know exactly where everything is and don't have to waste time searching around. So, our first family mission: de-clutter, reduce and organize (my husband loves this)!

I hope all are well and warm,

P.s. If you know of any homesteading/survivalist/self-sufficiency blogs or websites, I would love for you to share them!

Monday, January 17, 2011

One Thousand Gifts 1-10

Today I was truly touched after visiting the A Holy Experience and viewing the One Thousand Gifts trailer. If you haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend it, and I will be surprised if your eyes remain dry. I am looking forward to sharing my own 1000 gifts in this little space of mine over the coming year(s). Please follow the link above if you'd like to join!

1. Living in a place with four seasons. Each has it's beauty, and when I have had enough and am ready for change--there it is!

2. Warm hats, especially of the hand-made variety

3. Warm hands, especially of the young boy variety

4. A supportive husband

5. A loving mother

6. Inspiring friends

7. Music--the current favorite in our home is Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.

8. Bamboo knitting needles in a 1930s mason jar

9. My grandfather's 82nd birthday and that I was able to help him celebrate.

10. My grandfather's 82nd birthday and that his great-grandsons were able to help him celebrate!

Have a wonderful week,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas 2010, plus a "God" Conversation with a Three-year-old

Hello again, and happy 2011! I decided to take a bit of a hiatus from blogging to refocus, work on items for my little stall at the Crop Around the Corner, and just, well, take a break. This is not a resolution, but I do hope to be back in this little space on more of a regular basis. Now that I've been absent, I have plenty to share! :)

First up, the holidays. My husband is a teacher, so we enjoyed a wonderful two weeks with him being home. We did not go on any big vacations or outings, but we did go to the various parks in our community and enjoyed being together as a family. I, of course, enjoyed the company of my husband as well as the extra help with the boys.

We fed our friends, family and neighbors with special Christmas goodies:

and fed the birds with Winter Solstice treats:

Ben enjoyed his cleaning tools from Grandpa and Grandma:

and Matthew and Buzz have been inseparable since Christmas morning:

We're now back to our usual routine, and that's a good thing. We love the holidays, but that's partly because they're once a year, therefore making them very special. There's something to be said about the routine and consistency of the rest of the year.

Now, I feel the need to document the following conversation before I forget it. Although it is a personal mother/son discussion, I decided that it was well worth sharing:

This evening I was reading Matthew "The Little House in the Big Woods" (picture story version) as his good-night book. There was a picture of Pa with a gun in the forest. Matt asked me what he was doing, so I told him, "Pa is hunting. He is going to kill an animal and use its meat as food."

Matthew just stared at the picture. I asked him if that made him sad. He thought about it for a minute, then responded, "that doesn't make me sad. God made animals for people to eat. They need to eat meat." He then went on to tell me all about how God made good people and bad people, and the good people are fighting the bad people, but it's ok. When I asked him who told him about this, he said that no one told him.

Matthew then told me, "God made a baby. A king was going to kill the baby, but the baby got away and was safe. The baby was Jesus."

Again, I asked Matthew how he knew this. After a couple of minutes he told me that he heard it in the "big church." He said it like, "duh, Mom, this is where I heard it. You should have known that."

Wow. We go to church, but I have to admit that it's not on a regular basis. We're Episcopalian, so there isn't much fire and brimstone in the teachings, and Matt is only in the sanctuary (the "big church") for about a third of the service. As a Christian, I am proud of my little man and the lessons he is learning from being at church roughly once a month.

As a parent, I am awed (and a little frightened!) at how perceptive he is. I wanted to share this because it is very telling about how much children really do listen, perceive, and pick up on, even (especially!) if we don't think they're necessarily paying attention. It's made me think about the conversations I have in front of him, the words I say sometimes say when I think he cannot hear me, and the music I occasionally listen to in the car. I'd like to say that all of the words I speak in front of my children are positive, uplifting and moral, but they are not. I'm not judging myself too harshly, but now I am more aware. I am also thankful for the above conversation and will hold it in my heart always.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crop Around the Corner

Last Monday I set up a booth in a new local shop, The Crop Around the Corner. For years I've been toying with the idea of entering a craft fair, or setting up an etsy shop. I've been putting it off for many reasons, but mostly due to lack of creating time and a fear of failure. This new opportunity seemed to occur at just the right time for me, so I took the leap!

So far I am selling crocheted hats and chain-stitch cowls. The flowers are removable and can be interchanged with other flowers. I'm also thinking of making hearts for around Valentine's Day for a little festivity. I've been working on more patterns, but time is always my biggest issue, especially around the holidays. The old adage, "the shoemakers children are never shod" may fit perfectly for me this Christmas! I feel very blessed that just about my entire first batch of items sold in the first week. I guess I didn't have too much faith in myself, though, because I didn't make any extras! Today consisted of a yarn run to Santa Fe, and I'll be very busy the next couple of evenings.

I am proud to announce that just about all of my Christmas shopping is finished! :) We are having a much simpler holiday with gift-giving, I've been hunting for the perfect gifts throughout the year, and some recipients may even receive *treasures* from garage sales! The most difficult person to shop for on my list is always my step-father. He likes coffee and hiking, so I've pretty much given him enough caffeine and hiking gear to last a lifetime! Any ideas for middle-aged men are very much appreciated!

Hope that all are enjoying the holiday season,