Jamie had a lovely time at his second birthday party yesterday! Lots of friends came to celebrate with him: the Hills, the Browns, the Mortons, Auntie Janet, Fulton and, of course, Morgan, Sean, Samantha, Allen and Mom and Dad.
He was a bit impatient for everyone to arrive. He just couldn’t understand why he had to wait to open his presents.
He loved his Mickey Mouse cake and blowing out the candle!
He had plenty of help opening his presents.
He got a big dump truck from the Bishops . . .
. . . puzzles and a Thomas book from the Browns . . .
. . . an animal alphabet puzzle from the Hills . . .
. . . more puzzles from Mama . . .
. . . and some handmade by Daddy wooden tools.
The cake was yummy!
And, the presents were so much fun!
As a mom who works at home sewing items for children and a mom who loves to buy handmade items for her children, I’ve been following closely news of the CPSIA and how the Consumer Products Safety Commission interprets and plans to implement it. I think many Americans, though, are unaware of what these new regulations are going to mean to our small businesses and our nation’s economy.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) will affect everything that we purchase for our children. This new law was passed in August 2008 and goes into effect February 10, 2009. One of new requirements of the law is third party lead testing for every item that is manufactured for children ages 12 and under. That sounds great when you first read it, especially given the recent recalls of plastic toys with dangerous lead levels that were manufactured in China and sold to our nation’s children. This new law, however, is going to have some very sad results.
The law requires that one of each item that is manufactured be tested. For large toy manufacturers, this will be an inconvenience. It will likely raise the prices of the toys that we purchase at Walmart and Target. For small businesses and WAHMs (work-at-home-moms) who create one-of-a-kind or even a dozen-of-a-kind handcrafted items, this new law means closing up shop. The expense of having each item tested would make the cost of the end item to the purchaser ridiculously high.
I just received an email from one the homeschool resource companies that we’ve purchased CDs from in the past. It includes a link to their liquidation sale and says in part, “We don’t want to do this… We don’t like doing this… But it looks like we have no choice. Hopefully this will be a real blessing to you, even though it is a very real hardship for us and many others. Go ahead and take advantage of it if you can, so we at least won’t have to take a government-mandated trip to the landfill to dump our business there.” It makes me so sad to see hard-working people lose so much, so quickly.
Many parents and small businesses are asking Congress to change or make exceptions to the law to save our country’s small businesses. If you feel moved to get involved, contact your congressman or check out these sites for more information and other ways you can help:
The Handmade Toy Alliance:
National Bankruptcy Day Site:
CPSIA Mail-in Protest
Read Etsy’s Open Letter to the CPSIA for more info: Handmade Children’s Items & Unintended Consequences: Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
The CPSC’s website where you can find the new law in it’s entirety:
All the items pictured on this post were created by moms and dads who work at home handcrafting items for children. In just a few weeks, each of these items will be considered a “banned hazardous product”.
I really like giving Christmas gifts that are handmade. I also enjoy giving practical gifts. There are two very sweet moms who have watched my three youngest children this year so that I could volunteer in the GFA office two days a week, and we wanted to do something special for them. This project was the perfect practical, handmade gift that the kids could have a hand in making, and I think they turned out really nice!
For this project, we followed the Coaster Tutorial at Two Hippos Blog. We bought 12 four-inch ceramic tiles, glue, varnish and scrapbook paper. I precut the paper into four inch squares, and we layed them all out.
Samantha and Allen glued the paper squares on to the tiles. Then they added a second coat of glue to the top of the paper.
Once the papers were dry, I painted them with another coat of glue.
When that was dry, we added three coats of varnish to seal the coasters. We allowed them to dry and added some felt “feet” to the bottoms, and they’re all ready for giving!
The stockings are hung by the . . . well, we don’t actually have a chimney, so they’re hung in the dining room from the quilt rack.
I sewed these stockings up last year so that we’d all have nice coordinating ones, and I thought I’d share my pattern and instructions with you. I love the simple design, and the size, in my opinion, is perfect. They’re big enough to hold a DVD or video game but not so huge that you have to spend your whole Christmas budget on stocking stuffers.
For each stocking, you’ll need 1/2 yard of print woven fabric for the body, 1/4 yard of fabric for the top (velvet works beautifully) and ribbon for hanging. The body pattern can be found here. When you print, be sure that the “Fit to page” option is not selected. The pattern will print in two pages which you should butt up against each other to make a complete pattern. 1/2″ seam allowance is included.
Cut out your pieces. You’ll need to cut two body pieces from the pattern linked above in opposite directions. For the top of the stocking, you’ll need to cut two 17″ X 3 3/4″ strips.
Line body pieces up with right sides facing and sew or serge using 1/2″ seam allowance around all sides except the top.
Cut a piece of ribbon to 5 1/2 inches. I used 1″ grossgrain ribbon for ours. Pin the ribbon on the right side 1″ from the end of one of your top strips as shown.
Line your second strip up on top of the first strip with right sides facing and sew or serge along the edge where the ribbon is pinned, securing the ribbon inside.
Flip your two strips apart exposing the ribbon inside.
Fold over, matching up the short ends and sew or serge across the short edge.
Fold the finished top piece right-side out as shown, being sure that the ribbon is now at the back and on your left hand side.
Now pin the top of your stocking upside down inside the two body pieces which are still right-sides facing, as shown. Match up the seam on your top piece with the seam on the heal side of your stocking.
Sew or serge around the raw edges, attaching the top to the body of the stocking.
Flip the top out of the stocking . . .
. . . and turn right-side out.
READY FOR SANTA!
Please let me know if you have any questions, and I’d love to hear if you use this tutorial to make your own stockings!
Ray’s mom gave me this recipe the first Christmas that Ray and I spent together. It’s one of their family’s Christmas favorites. They love to offer an unsuspecting guest a drink of soda to go with the fudge and watch the reaction to the “explosion” that results from the combination.
1 stick of butter
1 small can of evaporated milk
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 7-ounce jar of marshmallow cream
A few willing assistants
Grease a 9X12 dish
Put butter and evaporated milk in pan. Do a little math while measuring the sugar into the pan: how many 1/2 cups make 2 1/2 cups total?
Heat and stir to boiling. Allow to boil for five minutes stirring often.
Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until smooth.
Add vanilla and marshmallow cream. Stir until smooth.
Pour into 9X12 pan.
Lick the spoons.
Cut into squares and store in a covered container, dividing the layers with waxed paper.
I sold these from my Hyena Cart last year and thought mamas might enjoy making them for their own children this year. It’s a just a slightly different take on the colored pencil roll-up. This one fastens with elastic which is much easier for little hands than a ribbon that needs to be tied. It also hold a 3″ X 5″ doodle pad which I buy in packs of 12 at Staples for $4.99: Doodle Pads. These art kits are great for carrying in the diaper bag to keep little hands busy while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or your favorite restaurant. They’re also great for coloring in the car since colored pencils are less messy than markers and won’t melt like crayons.
Start with the cotton woven fabrics of your choice. You can do the front and back in the same fabric, in a print and a solid, or two coordinating prints. For the hidden inner fabric I like to use a layer of fleece, but you can use quilt batting or, for a thinner version, a piece of cotton flannel. Be sure to prewash your fabrics so that your art kit will be washable when you’re all finished.
Ready your fabrics for sewing by placing your cotton wovens with the right sides facing and the hidden inner fabric on top.
Stitch around the edges using a 3/8″ seam allowance and leaving a 3″ opening in one of the short edges for turning. Clip your corners, then turn right side out, pushing your corners out until they’re as square as possible. (A clean chopstick works great for this. In my house, we call them “corner-poker-outers”.)
Topstitch at about 1/8″ across the short edge that you left open for turning, closing the hole.
Fold the topstitched edge up as shown to 3″ below the opposite edge and pin.
Mark the middle of your art kit, then mark at 1″ intervals across. You should have a total of 11 markings. I use disappearing ink so that I don’t have to worry about cleaning it off later, but you do have to work quickly so that it doesn’t disappear before the next two steps are completed.
Draw in the lines for your pencil pockets at the 11-1″ intervals you just marked.
Stitch down each line, backstitching at the top and bottom to lock in your stitches.
Cut two pieces of 1/4″ elastic, one 5 1/4″, one 11 1/2″. Pin the shorter piece across the pencil pockets beginning at the first stitching line on the right and ending at the fifth line from the right as shown. Fold the longer piece to form a loop and pin between the two layers of fabric on the left-hand side of the art kit leaving about 1/2″ inside the the two layers.
Stitch across the ends of the shorter piece of elastic following your previous stitching lines, backstitching and forward-stitching several times to keep it secure. Then topstitch at 1/4″ beginning on the right at the top of the pocket section, continuing around the bottom and up to the top of the pocket section on the left, securing the elastic loop inside, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end and over the elastic loop to keep it secure with heavy use.
Add your pencils and doodle pad and ENJOY!
Ray’s mom picked up this swing for a few cents at a yard sale and sent it home with us. It’s really just a round piece of wood on a rope, but the kids played on it until it was too dark to play anymore.
Jamie “helped” hang the swing from the walnut tree.
Morgan dropped by and went for swing, too!
This is the first post in a set that I hope to continue called “No Spend Fun”. In an effort to live simply, we’re always looking for things that we can do as a family that are fun and free. As homeschool parents, educational value is a bonus, too!
Letterboxing is something that we’ve enjoyed doing as a family for some time. Letterboxing North America explains, “Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places. Here’s the basic idea: Someone hides a waterproof box somewhere (in a beautiful, interesting, or remote location) containing at least a logbook and a carved rubber stamp, and perhaps other goodies. The hider then usually writes directions to the box (called “clues” or “the map”), which can be straightforward, cryptic, or any degree in between. Often the clues involve map coordinates or compass bearings from landmarks, but they don’t have to. Selecting a location and writing the clues is one aspect of the art.”
The weather was nice, and we had time on our hands this past Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. As we made our way south on I77 to North Carolina and then back north again to West Virginia, we searched for and found six letterboxes. We found the clues to their locations at Letterboxing North America and Atlas Quest. No GPS or other equipment is necessary, just the ability to follow instructions. We have a family logbook and each of the kids has his or her own logbook to keep track of the letterboxes we’ve found. We also have a family stamp. When we find a letterbox, we stamp our logbooks with the stamp in the box, and stamp the logbook in the box with our family stamp, writing in additional details such as our family name, location, etc.
Pictures of the fun: