Archive for the ‘Making’ Category

7 Thoughts on Raising Girls

February 10th, 2010 by Jane

I have three daughters, each as different as the next, but all can be called bold and feisty. I recently thought about the ways I parent differently than I expected. Before I had children, when I knew more than I do now, I thought I could provide them with this wonderful, edited atmosphere in which to flourish. Something very much like what Maria Montessori called a “rich environment.”

Indeed, my three lovelies are products of years of Montessori education and my husband and I are very grateful that we could provide that for them. They all attend a very fine public school now and we are glad to be part of our community in this way.

With all of our wonderful intentions to provide a holistic, gender-neutral, organic (food and clothing), television-free environment, the reality is much farther from that than I like to admit. However, our girls are happy, healthy and curious.

I thought about all of my parenting rules that I have broken and I thought about how I would condense my parenting philosophy and it is this: I try my very best to encourage their creativity. I believe that if you give your children enough room to have a creative life then this will positively impact everything: intellect, academics, social skills, and their emotional and mental well-being.

So, here is a list of things I thought I would never do/say/have/allow and a thought or two about each.

1. Pink
As a baby, we dressed my eldest daughter in every color of the rainbow except pink. When she got old enough to have an opinion, around 22months, she started insisting on pinks and purples to wear every day. When I asked her why she liked those colors, she said “Because they are fun and strong colors!” Now her favorite color is black (”It goes with everything, Mom!”) and one twin’s favorite color is orange, the other twin we call “Pinkalicious” because of her affinity for what we refer to as her signature color.

2. Barbies
I really liked Barbie when I was a child. I loved her house that folded up, I loved my Truly Scrumptious limited edition Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Barbie. I loved her clothes and I wished I had some just like them. As a grown up, before I had children, I thought Barbies were evil destroyers of healthy body image. Then various relatives gave my eldest daughter Barbies for her second birthday. Yes, second. And she loved them and I never got around to removing them while she wasn’t looking. So, I bought her some Barbies of different ethnicities, along with the doctor garb and the veterinarian set. My three girls now play super hero with Barbie and her multicultural friends and have them do some girl-on-girl kissing. I think that if I don’t make a big deal about what’s wrong with Barbie, then they will accept girl power and alternative life styles as non-issues.

3. Food
My kids love candy. They also love kale, artichokes, pears, any kind of Mexican food, mangoes and roast chicken. Seems okay to me.

4. Television
I admit that we have struggled with this. All parents of small children will find themselves wishing for an electronic babysitter on bad days. During any given week, my kids might watch Electric Company, Project Runway, The Wonder Pets, or most embarrassingly: The Biggest Loser. A stay at my sister’s got them hooked on this show and now they exercise during the commercials and cheer on their favorites. But. On any given day, they are also likely to: play Super Powers with the boys next door, ride their scooters, bake cookies, draw with chalk pastels or play Chinese Mutant Pirates with aforementioned boys. I figure it evens out.

5. Sleeping
I have one child who still gets in bed with us every night. When I tuck her in her bed each night,she tells me she knows that I miss her and that she will come and cuddle me in the night. I am too exhausted to return her to her bed after she falls asleep next to me. I tell myself that this will not last very long and I will miss it when she doesn’t like me when she is thirteen.

6. Clothing
We do not buy organic cotton clothing. We buy most of our clothes at Target, which are probably made by twelve year olds in some third world country, making pennies per day. I am sorry about that, but I am not sure how to address it. I don’t buy them anything with “Princess” on it, but their grandparents do. However, we make sure that the girls wear age-appropriate clothing. No high heels or skimpy clothes, no smart-alecky t-shirts.  If they cannot run and play in it, then it doesn’t come home with us. And with the rare exception of formal occasions, all of them are allowed to choose what they wear, as long as it is weather-appropriate. This has entertained me and my husband to no end for a decade now.  I highly recommend it. My theory is that if I let them choose what they want to wear now, then when they are fourteen, they will not embarrass me. I’ll keep you posted.

7. Bedrooms
I fantasize about my girls having beautiful Pottery Barn-inspired-little-girl rooms, but my children enjoy living like squirrels, padding their nests with their stuff. I can’t stand it. I was a child who enjoyed order, and while I have let go of a lot of that, the state of their rooms scrambles my brain. I keep trying to organize them and meanwhile, they will congregate in another sister’s bedroom and mess it up. I am trying to come to grips with their lack of interest in order and remember that their rooms belong to them.

7 Fall Flavors

November 5th, 2009 by Jane

There is finally a little crisp in the air here in Central Texas and I am excited to start doing some cooking. I survive the heat of the summer by only using our microwave, the gas grill or the toaster oven. Surprisingly, you can feed a family of five very well with just these appliances!

The relief from the heat inspires me to experiment in the kitchen.  Lately, I have been in full frugalista mode by trying to lower our food waste. I have made improvements, but there is still a ways to go.

Peruse some of my creations and ideas for future meals!

1. Tortilla Casserole
I used some leftover seasoned chicken from tacos, layered it in between corn tortillas with cheese and black beans. I mixed up a sauce with plain yogurt and salsa verde and added that to the layers. Baked it in the oven for 30 minutes or so and YUM-MY!

2. Chowder
I make the best corn chowder you have ever tasted and it is the only recipe that I do not share because I make it for our annual New Year’s Day Soup Party. I cannot fine one that is close to refer to you. Here is what my recipe does not have in it: flour, bacon or other vegetables besides corn and potatoes. I garnish it with cheese and roasted poblano peppers, then serve with cornbread and a salad.

3. Speaking of Salad
I could live on soup and salad for the rest of my life. My favorite combination for fall is pears and arugula. What are your favorite salad ingredients?

4. Eggplant Parmesan
I do not believe that eggplant is a fall vegetable, but I cannot bear to turn on the oven when it is in season. So, I save this dish for fall. I was going to make this version the other day, but my eggplant froze in the refrigerator. I made the sauce and put it over chicken roll-ups instead. The sauce caramelized in the oven and I was scraping the yummy bits off of the pan.

5. Candied Nuts
My new frugalista self has stopped buying candied nuts at the grocery store and I am making them at home. I like the nuts on the aforementioned pear and arugula salad, and they are surprisingly easy to make. We use Texas pecans because we are lucky enough to have pecan trees. Try this version.

6. Pumpkin
I like pumpkin as a savory ingredient, so I make pumpkin soup or a great pumpkin sauté with black beans. I am going to make this pumpkin and black bean tostada from the chefs at Dean & DeLuca.

7. Cranberries
The Cranberry Tart with the Nut Crust from Martha Stewart’s Entertaining book is out of this world. No, really. People who do not enjoy the cranberry like this tart. Pile on the whipped cream and it will disappear. I am thinking of adding a layer of chocolate to it this year. Too much? Nah!

7 Bold Quotes

May 22nd, 2009 by Amy

This week I have seen a lot of boldness.


It seems that everyone I know is reaching out and making changes.


New jobs.

New relationships.

New decisions.

New experiences.

New lives.


It takes a good deal of courage to push your life forward in a new direction.


This is for all of you who are!


1.  Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.   Aristotle


2.  First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.   Epictetus


3.  Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.   Alfred Adler


4.  Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.   Helen Keller

5.  Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout,
and laughingly dash with your hair.   Walt Whitman

6.  How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  
Annie Dillard

7.  Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?   Mary Oliver

7 Ways To Restyle An Old T-shirt – Redux

May 12th, 2009 by Amy

One of the most common ways readers find our blog is through a Google search for “restyling an old t-shirt.”


Given that the warm weather is here to stay and y’all are looking for T-shirt ideas … here is the original 7of  … and here are some more!


1.  Chaos

The “Chaos” T (at right) is brought to you from the fun folks at Compai … who are also the masterminds behind 99 Ways to Cut, Sew, Trim, and Tie Your T-Shirt into Something Special.

The following can all be found at (links provided):


2.  Flapper

Feisty and very feminine … you’d never guess this little number (at left) was made from unflattering Ts.


3.  Gathered Yoke

A tailored look … very little sewing required!


4.  Pin Tuck

Form-fitting, yet entirely flexible.


5.  Ruffles



6.  Scarf

Paul, over at, sent in his idea for transforming pre-loved Ts into scarves … cozy!


7.  Skirt

Fun, flirty, and totally functional (at right). 

7 Ways I am Saving Money this Month

May 11th, 2009 by Jane

Everyone I know is feeling some sort of a money crunch lately, myself included. I am researching simple ways to save a few dollars and I thought I would share them with all of you. Please send us any of your great money-saving ideas!

1. Beverages
I love a nice soy chai latte from the coffee shop, but at $5.00 a cup I have started cutting back on my frequency.  I have been making them at home with Celestial Seasonings chai tea and regular soy milk. Delish! And I have been brewing iced green tea with mint for my husband. These little tips save us about $6.50 every time we drink a cup!

2. Cable
We are cutting out our cable for the summer and renting shows on Netflix. I plan on catching up on The Tudors. Total monthly savings: $100.00.

3. Crock Pot
A few friends and I are planning to host a few crock pot parties.  Each family brings a crock pot dish and we all feast! For the cost of about $7.00 per family, we have a fun night that is much cheaper than meeting at a restaurant.

4. Kids’ Parties
My twins just had their 5th birthday and we hosted the party in our backyard. I glued craft sticks together to make dragonflies and other insects, which the guests painted and took home. I saved a bundle by having the party at home and I feel great about not buying cheap plastic toys for party favors. I also made the cupcakes. Tip: a Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix with homemade cream cheese frosting is better and cheaper than any store bought cake you can find.

5. Rain Barrels
We are ordering rain barrels to cut down on our water bill.  Or build your own and save even more money. Now we just need it to rain!

6. Sitting Co-Op
Some friends and I have agreed to help each other out with babysitting for the summer.  There are about 5 of us whose children get along really well and we are planning to alternate days for sitting. This will save me hundreds over the course of the summer and my kids will have a great time with their friends. 

7. Websites
I have found some great ideas on some websites like the Federal Citizen Information Center website and  the online magazine Shoestring

7 Quesadilla Fillings

April 22nd, 2009 by Amy

It’s lunchtime and I’m starving. Instead of making a meal, I’m sitting here writing about the one I wish would magically appear on my desk.


I’ll have to check the refrigerator, but if I have these seven ingredients I’m going to sauté them together (adding the mango afterwards) and stuff them in a hot, gooey, cheesy flour tortilla quesadilla and smother the whole thing with salsa. Yum!


1.  Corn

2.  Mango

3.  Onion

4.  Avocado

5.  Mushrooms

6.  Black Beans

7.  Poblano Peppers

7 Spring Fabrics

April 20th, 2009 by Jane

Sometimes spring cleaning can morph into spring crafting. If you are a fabric-a-holic like me, then feast your eyes on these wonderful fabrics for projects.

                                        Blues and Greens for Wipe and Go

This Stained glass pattern in blues and greens would be perfect for a table runner on my patio table. It is vinyl coated for easy clean-up which makes it just what I need.

On The Road Again
This cute Road Trip print would be an adorable tote bag for your kids car games. Or stitch up a little travel pillow for them.


                                                         Kitschy Kitchen
My Friend Peggy is a fanatic for I Love Lucy, so this Lucy in the Chocolate Factory print would make a great apron to give her. 

                                                  Cute Mousepad
The Japanese fabric on this mouse pad is adorable and I need it! 

                                                     Breezy Skirt Fabric
I love this mum print from designer Heather Bailey. It is a cute summer skirt waiting to happen. 

                                                   Upholstery Fabric
I have a pair of mod vintage slipper chairs that would look fabulous in this polka dot print. Yum! 

                                                       Outdoor Fabric
I have an old iron daybed on my back porch that needs a mattress cover that can withstand the elements. This kicky sunburst pattern is just the ticket, don’t you think? 

7 Smells That Bring Back Memories

April 16th, 2009 by Amy

The other day I rinsed a colander of strawberries in the sink.


Just after the water hit the berries, the sweet smell of early summer hit my face – and took me all the way back to a certain early strawberry summer that was very sweet indeed.


These smells take me places I love to go:


1.  Onions sautéing

2.  Coffee brewing

3.  Clean sheets

4.  Sunscreen

5.  Hot bread

6.  Babies

7.  Snow

7 Ideas for Leftover Paint

April 15th, 2009 by Jane

I have a plethora of leftover paint in my garage and of course this inspired a 7Of post! So, I have been researching paint crafts and I came across a great site for paint ideas hosted by the folks at Rustoleum. Did you know that the rust-preventive paint was inspired by fish oil? Try some of these projects and you will be helping the environment while cleaning out your garage!

1. Bottles
Event producer David Stark painted bottles from his recycling bin and crowned them with paper doilies to make these adorable and inexpensive vases.  View the whole tablescape in the May issue of Country Living magazine.

2. In the Garden
Refresh that small wrought iron table on your porch, paint your mailbox or spray paint some window boxes.  Look around, I’ll bet you will find something that needs a burst of color!.

3. Place mats

Use leftover chalkboard paint to transform tired plastic place mats into a blank canvas for your kids or guests. 

4. Stair Risers
From the creative minds at Real Simple magazine comes this idea to paint the risers of stairs in your home. I think this would be fabulous with several colors, or each one a different shade of the same color. Just keep adding white paint to lighten the color you choose. 

5. Tchotchkes
In the last year or so, I have seen several design articles on how to paint home decor accessories to make a bigger visual impact. One of my favorite ideas was painting old trophies the same shocking color like electric blue or lime green. Or painting cheap ceramic cat figurines all black or all white. How about painting dime store candlesticks varying shades of your favorite color? Line lots of these on a shelf or table for the strongest impact. 

6. Paint Chips
I have a lot of chips from when we remodeled my house and I have been using them to make greeting cards. Or they could be wall art. Or bookmarks or gift tags. Think of them as colored paper instead of detritus and you will find tons of uses for them.

7. Recycle the Paint!
The fine website, Earth 911, has tips on how to buy the correct amount of paint for the job, how to extend the life of leftover paint and where to recycle paint when you are done with it.

7 Ways To Say Thanks

April 10th, 2009 by Amy

Photo credit  perchpapiers

“Saying thank you is more than good manners.
It is good spirituality.”
Alfred Painter

1.  Apoplectic
For the times when you just want to thank a friend for being unabashedly themselves … go ApoplecticThese surreal cards feature wordy lists of thanks for things like “not seeking employment as a ruthless CEO of a criminally psychopathic multinational company” and “having an interminable nagging sensation that Bill Gates may have more than his fair share.”  

2.  Gesture
Thanking can be complicated, but The Gratitude Campaign encourages folks to do it from the heart. As the movie says, it’s not about politics, it’s about acknowledgement of service.

3.  Lasting
A simple token of thanks becomes something special when given in a Gratitude Bag from Paloma’s Nest (at right). Package of seeds? A special rock? A ring? The bag is sturdy, yet delicate, and the beauty of it is you can re-gift it without an ounce of guilt … just gratitude.

4.  Namaste
Rhode Island artist and designer Maeve Donohue created this sweet print of a kokeshi – a Japanese folk art doll traditionally given as a token of appreciation – and captured the spirit of thanks (below).

5.  Signage
Reach everyone at once with this big show of thanks … so cute it’s sure to become a keepsake. The cheerful photo above is from perchpapiers.

6.  Simple Is Best
Based in the Netherlands, this understated and inspiring Thank You site is filled with well-chosen words of appreciation. For 3 euros, they’ll send yours.

7.  Write Right
Grasping for words? This article will help you construct a heartfelt Thank You note that hits all the highlights.

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