Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hula-hoop weaving

You may remember the finger-knitting video that D, 7 made for you about a month ago. Well, finger knitting has been done so much in our house that we've been looking for ways to use the end product in other crafts! I got out a hula hoop the other day and let the kids loose weaving a mini-rug from a particularly colorful strand of finger-knitter acrylic wool.

Start by wrapping strands of string or twine across the hoop from one side to another. You'll want to tie two of them together because if you don't get an odd number of weaving strands it won't work. See the two at the bottom? (I forgot to get a photo of this before we started weaving.)

Roll up your finger-knitting into a ball to make it easier to thread between the hoops.

Start in the middle of the strands and begin weaving over-under-over-under and so on, all around the hoop.

When you run out of yarn, tie it off on the closest strand and weave the ends under. Now cut the twine at the outside rim of the hoop and weave it through the back side of your mat.

Flip it over and see how pretty it is! Wasn't that a cinch?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring bunting from vintage sheets - quickie tutorial

It doesn't look like spring outside yet, but I had some fun making this bunting from my rather large vintage sheet collection last week! It was super easy so I'm posting the steps in case anyone else would like to give it a try. It took me all of half an hour, and part of that was spent wrestling the puppy off the sewing machine pedal.

vintage sheet buunting tutorial

You'll need:

-fabric (I used vintage sheets because I love them, but pretty much any fabric scraps will do...about a metre in total will do it)
-something to cut it out with
-a sewing machine
-an iron
-a 10 foot double folded binding strip
-some paper and a ruler
-better lighting than I have today if you're taking pics, so your whites actually look white

1. Measure out a triangle on graph paper. Mine was 7' on the long sides and 5' on the short side. Cut it out.

2. Place two layers of the fabric you want to use for your first triangle, right sides in. Use scissors or a rotary cutter and cut the layers out. This was the first rotary cutter I've ever bought and I am kicking myself for now buying one many, many years ago - it made this a cinch!

3. Repeat with the other fabrics until you've cut out all out until you have enough of them.....I found that 9 double layers of triangles was just about right for this length.

4. Now sew them together, right sides in, along the two long sides. I think I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Clip the corner at the bottom (don't snip the seam though!) and turn it right side out. Press. Repeat with all the triangles.

5. Measure to the middle of your binding strip and pin your first triangle top inside the strip (so the raw edge will be tucked inside).

6. Measure 18" from each end of the binding strip and start a triangle at that point. Pin them inside the binding strip.

7. Repeat, eyeballing the spacing, until the triangles are all pinned inside the bunting. Now sew along the binding strip, at about 5/8", so that all of the triangles are safely stitched in there. Don't worry if you miss an edge and have to sew a second seam to attach it; it doesn't affect the final effect one iota.

8. Tie it up and stand back. Admire your handiwork, and try to resist the urge to make enough for every wall in the house and several for outside. (If you're me, the temptation becomes too strong and you may or may not have created a crazy number of them to the point where you are taking them to friends' houses as hostess gifts!)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring nutrition and exercise tips, with a giveaway!

This time of year is that twilight between seasons where it isn't winter any more, exactly, but it's not yet warm and sunny enough in early spring to start any plants outside. The Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes are waking us at dawn as they fly overhead and it's still novel enough that we run outside to watch them come home.

But this time of year is tricky, too. How do you get enough exercise and fresh air when it's hailing constantly - and how do you balance nutrition and outdoor activity to get enough Vitamin D when you risk being blown off your feet several days a week just taking the dogs out? How do you get enough calcium into your kids to make sure that their bones will withstand the inevitable tree climbing that's sure to start any time now?

We have a plan for this.

First, we are somewhat nutrition-obsessed, so we monitor our family's food choices closely. It really is possible to eat delicious food and increase your vegetable intake without being doomed to a life of salads! Take a look at the Moosewood Cookbook, or peruse the internet for options (I'll share a review of our favourite online option very soon).

Second, we go outside regardless of the weather. As longtime readers know, we are outdoor enthusiasts and even in truly awful weather we will spend at least some time outside. This can take many forms, but lately it's included building a chicken coop, getting out the bikes on days when the roads aren't too icy, hiking at a local conservation area, ice fishing, and lots more.


 I also have a dog-walking friend next door and we take them for a 5 km walk down the road and back every morning, laughing and sharing our lives as we go. If you've never attempted to walk 4 dogs at once, let me tell you that's it's a great and comical workout! My husband and K, 22, jog the dogs down the trail every evening too, just as the sun sets.

Third, we make sure that we take a multivitamin that contains the vitamin D and calcium we're likely to be lacking right now (did you know that researchers have found up to 85% of people in North America aren't getting enough Vitamin D? and that you also need it to help absorb calcium? You can read more about this and other things you may not know by signing up for Life Science Nutritional's free newsletter.)

We are using the Vitamin D-added gummis this month and when they run out we will move on to the Iron Kids Gummis with Calcium. As I may have told you, they're gluten-, dairy- and nut-free and have no sugar coating, no artificial flavours and no artificial colours (especially important if your kids, like mine, react very poorly to the dyes!)

These vitamins have been such a hit with my kids (all ages) that I've been given permission to offer one of my Canadian readers a bottle of each of two IronKids vitamins (the added-calcium and added-Vitamin D bottles). To enter, just leave me a comment below telling me how you make sure your family gets the fresh air and good nutrition that they thrive on!

Leave me a way to get hold of you, too, and I'll notify the winner on April 8th. Good luck! You'll love them!

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Science Nutritionals blogger program with Influence Central and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, March 2, 2015

5 tips for proper nutrition outside of growing season

At this time of year, we're down to the bare bones of all the produce we grew, froze, canned, or stored in the basement last fall. At the same time, it's still snowing and storming often enough that deliveries to our local grocery stores are delayed or cancelled altogether......and if they do make it through, more often that not they have traveled thousands of miles before reaching the shelves, not to mention costing a fortune!

This presents a real challenge for those of us who cook mostly from scratch and prefer locally grown/organic fruits and vegetables. How do we make certain that our family is getting the nutrition that growing (or aging!) bodies need?

Here are a few things you can do while you're waiting for growing season to start up again:
5 tips for proper nutrition
These blueberries may not be pretty, but they taste delicious!

-Buy frozen, not "fresh". Most frozen produce was prepared where it was grown and at its peak, so you're going to get more vitamins and nutrients from frozen than anywhere else right now. Most "fresh" produce, by the time it reaches your grocery store, has traveled for a couple of weeks and many thousands of miles. The frozen food may not be as pretty, but it packs more of a nutritional wallop.

-Aim to increase your garden size this spring; or if you don't have garden space, buy your produce seasonally from the local farmers' market and prep/freeze/can/store it as you would with your own. You'll pay less and eat healthier.

-For next winter, plan to prepare freezer meals from your garden's bounty as you pick it, as well as storing individual items. That way you won't be scrambling for substitute ingredients come next March. .

-Include lots of legumes. Dried lentils and beans are an excellent source of iron, fiber, and other natural goodness, and you can cook them from dry and save a pile of money as well.

-Add a multivitamin to your daily routine. We look for high quality and easy-to-take vitamins, so we were delighted to be offered the chance to try Adult Essentials Gummies Multivitamin. M, 14, takes an adult multivitamin but can not swallow pills to save her life, so these chewables are ideal.....no more grown-up sized teen taking kids' chewables!

5 tips for proper nutrition
D, 7, loved the kids' vitamins, and I was happy that they offer some with added vitamin D, so important in the winter! They're also sugar free, which I heartily approve.

ironkids gummies with vitamin d

They won the 2015 Canadian Living Best New Product Award in the Health category, as voted on by over 60K Canadian consumers, so I'm obviously not the only one singing their praises.  They're formulated with the unique nutritional needs of men and women in mind, and have created enhanced options such as multivitamins with added Omega 3, Vitamin D, Omega 3, B12, B-Complex, or Fibre. They're also gluten, dairy and nut free. Score!

You can get more details on the Life Science Nutritionals site, and use their retailer tool to find out where they're sold in your neck of the woods. They'll also be at the National Women’s Show in Montreal on March 13, 14 and 15. They will be available to chat with and it's a great opportunity to learn more about Adult Essentials and IronKids Gummies.

 How do you meet your family's nutrition needs in the off season?

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Science Nutritionals blogger program with Influence Central and I receive special perks (like the vitamins, to try them ourselves) as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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