My final post

February 8, 2008 at 2:20 am | Posted in Personal, simplicity | 12 Comments

I do believe this is going to be my final post. I find myself becoming stressed out over the idea of writing a post. I find myself waffling on what my “focus” should be. Then, a few days ago, I was talking to someone about how I fell smack dab in between two worlds. The conversation was something like this,

“I know folks that are consumers, and not environmentally conscience. I know folks that follow the suggestions of “institutions” over research and common sense in the raising of their children. Then, I have those that I know that are so crunchy and environmentally green that they are vegan, no toilet tissue (cloth if you need to know) using, no vaccination homeschoolers. Quite a range I know, but I like that in my life. It helps keep me balanced in knowing that I am making changes, even if I am not where I want to be yet. I love to be kept thinking.”

Then a few days later, when I was trying to narrow down what my next post was going to be, I realized that I couldn’t keep it up. I read great blogs (see the blogroll) of persons who “specialize” in areas I am interested in. I can keep up on politics, home schooling, living plastic free, recycling, simple living, and even how to make a great party drink! There are folks out there keeping me informed on issues I want to stay abreast of, such as GLBT issues, mental health issues, and empowerment to homebirth and breastfeeding advocacy.

Then, there are my friends. The reason I started this. We all wound up all over the country, with my in-laws in England, it was to be to keep in touch. Well, the folks in England didn’t use it for that, and most of us here in the states are now so busy raising our kids, that we have little blog time. We catch up in quick phone calls, and online chats. I love reading your blogs and knowing what is going on with your lives, and I love watching your kids grow. I want to provide that, but being a single mom now, I just have to give some things up, and this blog is going to be one of them.

Maybe one day, I will pick it up again, with a focus. But for now, it is time to say goodbye. I have mixed feelings of relief and sadness at this decision, but I know it is for the best. So, thank you all for your love and support, and keep up the great work on all your blogs! And think of me every time you laugh at http://icanhascheezburger.com/

Peace love and namaste!

Kamrin

Handmade and recycled cards

November 24, 2007 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Craft, frugal, Personal, recycling, simplicity | 5 Comments

In the continuing effort of going handmade

I would like to remind you of the handmade cards you can make. This is a post from last year as a reminder for all you “first timers” at the handmade thing!

Recycling those holiday cards

December 29, 2006 at 2:52 pm | In recycling | | Edit this post

Whatever holiday you celebrate, you probably got cards. These could come from anyone, including, but not limited to, family and your insurance agent. I have always just put them into the recycling bin at the end of the season, but this year I did something different. I looked around on the net and compiled some ideas for how to re-use them. This is a fun project for kids of all ages, a way to start pulling down the decorations, and a way to get a head start on your holidays next year!You take your cards and carefully remove the front from the back. gift-labels.jpgWhat we did is take Christmas and Yule shaped cookie cutters, or you could use Chanukah cutters, and if nothing else, jar lids, and then traced the shape around the inside saying. This was then cut out and decorated, if desired. We used some gold and silver glitter, and then hole punched it so that ribbon can be pulled through. Do not put the ribbon through now because these can be used for gift tags next year and your gift may already have wrapping (free wrapping) and you don’t want a smashed bow. All you will have to do is write names on it and attach. Then you have a sparkly and themed gift tag to brighten up even the most mundane present! If the shape is a long one, consider making it into a book mark. bookmarks.jpg Next, some of the more “plain” cards, we cut around the front image and again decorated them some if desired. If a person has written on the back side of the front of the card, gluing a piece of colored construction paper will cover it nicely. backs-of-cards.jpg

Now that you have this lovely card all ready, what to do, right? Well, you can use them to send as holiday postcards (we don’t do this cause we don’t send cards) or you can use them as recipe cards. So, when you make that batch of homemade play dough, or a loaf of bread, you can write, or print off on computer and paste, the recipe on the back side of the card and attach to the gift.This not only dresses up the present, but it also allows them to be able to re-create the gift for themselves. If you are a person who uses gift bags, you can even glue the card to the front of a plain paper bag to dress the bag up for the holidays.rec-cards.jpg

Finally, for the really pretty and ornate cards, we again used the front image, dressed it up if desired, and then we recycled scrap fabric by gluing it on the back side of the card.

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You can also add that extra ribbon you didn’t use, or that came on a present, on the edge, or even crochet around the edges ( a great way to practice different edging techniques for those later projects). Anything to make it look super fancy. You now have a one-of-a-kind ornament. Again, this can supplement a gift, or you can give it as a gift itself.

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We used mostly Freecycled paint, and cotton crochet thread to continue with the frugal theme. However, most of the craft stores have their Christmas and Chanukah item up to 70% off so you can purchase if you want without breaking the bank! To add to the fun, my kids enjoyed using the scraps of paper left over from all the cutting to make geometric (geometry lesson) pictures they glued onto (Freecycled) construction paper. Even our scraps didn’t go to waste! shape-cards.jpg

This project (or projects) can easily be broken down to child size time bits as you often must wait (dreaded four letter word to kids!) for paint and glue to dry. Doing this project also includes some of our home schooling lessons. While doing this we talk about recycling, consumerism, history (paper ornaments, ribbons, crochet), counting, and they also get some science in with viscosity of paints, and art in the color application and mixing. It also works on their fine motor skills and concentration abilities. I plan to put all of these in a small storage box so that if I find something I want to add to them during the year, I can. I also plan to start doing this with birthday and anniversary cards. So, I hope that this gave you a few ideas for things you can do with your cards. There are tons more ideas out there on the net, just look it up! If you want more details, let me know, I am full stuff ; )

I pledge to Buy Hand Made, or make it myself

November 20, 2007 at 11:54 pm | Posted in Craft, frugal, getting involved, Personal, recycling, simplicity | 3 Comments

Let’s face it, there is only so many bottles of lotions and perfumes a person can use in a life time.As many of you know, we did the simplicity route few years ago, so we have very few folks we gift to throughout the year. However, when we do, I try to make it as personal as possible, and homemade is preferred. So, I have been busy as of late with several projects for folks birthdays, and for holidays. Here are some photos of the “skunk” hats I made recently for a birthday present. These were for our park interpreter who teaches our Native American classes and told us that the tail was often left on the garment as a symbol of status, so that is what I tried to do. The first hat is the prototype that was made, and undone so many times that it is now a “dress-up” hat. It has no tail.

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These are a set of Harry Potter scarves for a set of friends of ours. The kids are wearing the trial versions, and the larger and longer set are the final product.

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We also have kippahs kippot on the way (no photo here so that the receiver can be surprised). This is so much fun! Happy hand made ya’ll!

http://www.buyhandmade.org/

Pow Wow

November 15, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal, simplicity | 7 Comments

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I am so behind on all the exciting things we have been doing around here! One of the coolest things we have done was to go to a Mountain Man camp at Pinnacle Mountain ( http://www.partnersforpinnacle.org/Rendezvous.htm ).

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We were able to enjoy seeing lye soap made, a blacksmith forging metal tools, and talk to the “traders” about the kinds of goods available in pioneer times. After visiting with the pioneers, we then went on to visit the Native American encampment. We were fortunate enough to be invited into a lodge by it’s owner and told about some of the contents and the ways of this tribe. It was fantastic! We really learned so much from the visit and the kids wanted to learn more, so the next day we went back for the Pow Wow. And the day after that too. The kids and I were so mesmerized by the dancing, and storytelling presented by the Inter Tribal Association of Arkansas. (I can’t find a working link for them)

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 So, for now, here are some photos of the dancing and storytelling.

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We know that my grandfathers on both sides were of Native American ancestry, but I have had no luck finding the name of the tribes they belonged to. I had held off on this post because I wanted to be able to announce my findings, but that does not look like it will be happening. I think the kids would love to be able to learn more about a particular tribe. As for right now, they are taking a series of classes with the Pinnacle Mountain park interpreters on the Native Americans of Arkansas. We have learned about their tools, and cooking (the Caddo) and are hoping to learn even more!

More plarn than you can shake a stick at!

November 13, 2007 at 4:24 am | Posted in Craft, frugal, getting involved, Personal, recycling, simplicity | 1 Comment

Well, shake a crochet hook at least!  

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I made another bag using the pattern from http://www.myrecycledbags.com/

Which is more than slightly modified by myself because apparently I can’t read a pattern to save myself! Again, I used the bags that newspapers come in as they are a “softer” material which I like for a bag being carried over my shoulder and under my pudgy arms. I can easily hold a gallon of milk and some other groceries in this one bag! I love it that when it gets wet, all I have to do is to hang it up to dry! Also, our local stores now offer a discount for each of your own bags you bring in. Remember to ask for it as those pennies add up in the budget!

Plarn rocks, especially if you are collecting it from neighbors, not getting it yourself. This also allows me to remind them that I am doing this because all these bags are bad for the environment and ask them if they have started using canvas yet. Subversive? Yes. Effective? Not sure yet.

I also found that if you go to a store like Target, where they take a lot of returns, they just throw their bags at the end of the day, so if you ask a store manager, they will likely let you take them for your next plarn project. So, get out there and reduce the amount of plastic being sent to the landfill in your neighborhood ~ Crochet a bag!

Camping with the Karma kids

November 5, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, Personal, simplicity | 1 Comment

Yup, you read right! I went camping with the Karma kids! Our home school group was offered a chance to go camping with the park rangers and park interpreters at Pinnacle Mountain, so we did. Now I haven’t been camping since I was a kid and Daddy was in charge so I didn’t really have to “do” anything. Now this was backwoods camping so there were no toilets and no running water, we had to do it all!

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We got to go on a hike at night to listen to the night creatures, and we learned to build a fire using a bow-and-string, cook in a Dutch oven, make burn out bowls like the native Americans,

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listened to story times from a ranger and roast marshmallows. The kids had so much fun playing together and didn’t seem to even notice that they were learning anything. So cool! Here is our morning after group photo, all of us unwashed and mountain fresh! Of course, Karma Boy decided to wait till this photo was taken to try and lift up on my head, resulting in a beautiful look and stance from me! Sigh. I have no good photos of myself.

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Heifer International

October 30, 2007 at 2:51 pm | Posted in getting involved, Homeschooling, Personal, simplicity | 3 Comments

One of out recent home school co-op fieldtrips was to take a tour of the Heifer International Ranch.http://www.heiferfoundation.org/seminars/ranchinfo.cfmThe kids got to see some of the “sanitation stations” that Heifer is using to teach proper hygiene in other countries, meet the animals that are used to help others, and to see a global village that represents some of the living situations of the world. There were tin shanty towns,

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 African round huts, and a Thai home. This place was great for learning about how one animal can affect a family’s existence and bring their standard of living up. I really enjoyed getting to see how they do it all.

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We were able to see the different animals that Heifer sends around the world and learn how many ways each one can effect a family. I am still sold on a Llama for myself. Wool, milk, hauling, and protection (excellent guard animals).

It served to bolster my reasoning to becoming more self sufficient also because I can see how it is the little things that can make such a big difference. How just one animal can provide so much as to help one stay independent.

Some of the poverty issues were above the my kid’s heads, but overall, I think some of it sunk in. For, me, I left reminded of how good I have it, even when things are rough.

Learning fun!

October 23, 2007 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Homeschooling, simplicity | 3 Comments

The kids and I have been busy~busy lately! I have made a commitment to do more activities outside the house and so far I am managing to do so. It is hard to manage both the kids in open spaces, around a bunch of other kids, all by myself. I am always paranoid that something will happen to them when I am distracted. So far, nothing has happened and learning has been going on. The coolest thing we are doing is a set of lessons offered by one of our local state parks, http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/pinnaclemountain/.The park rangers there are top notch at these lessons! The kids (and I) have learned so much! We have learned about camouflage and how animals use it to stay safe from predators. The Rangers had the kids dress in camo and play a game of hide-and-seek with some of the other kids being the predators (wearing hunter safety orange). All the kids had so much fun with this!

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We also were introduced to birds of Arkansas and the kids were so excited about that they decided to join the bird watching group in here called Wings over Arkansashttp://www.agfc.com/wildlife-conservation/birds/wingsoverark.aspxWe have been having fun identifying birds and the kid’s observation skills have greatly improved with how much time they spend looking for “new birds.”blogsizeduckcalls.jpg

We also attended a class that taught us what birds eat. This lead, naturally, to us eating bugs. Yes, we all ate a delicious larva! Here we are eyeballing our feasts immediately before ingestion. Yum. (shudders with flashback to the experience) blogsizedlarva.jpg

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And that is just a part of Pinnacle Mountain! We have attended a Dutch oven cooking class, and will have a separate entry for another big event we recently attended there where they had a whole weekend of re-creating the pioneer life of the 1830-1850’s!

Blog Action Day

October 15, 2007 at 2:01 pm | Posted in getting involved, Personal, politics, recycling, simplicity | 4 Comments

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day!(On October 15th – Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind.In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be coordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment.)Yup, even though I try hard to keep my world as environmentally friendly as possible, this is a great way to really raise up the issue and see what can happen. It is all those little changes one can make in life that add up.Last night I baked dinner in the oven. Since the oven was on (Energystar appliance), I went ahead and used the heat to finish several items that needed heating. My kids do not eat the “heels” of the bread and I am not to fond of them either on the store bought whole wheat, so I save them, cut them into crouton sizes, and when I have a substantial amount, I bake them. smallbread.jpgInstant croutons and bread crumbs! smallcrumbs.jpgAfter that, I used the remaining heat to re-season my cast iron cookware. I love using pots and pans that will be around long enough to pass on to my grandkids, but they do have to be taken care of! smallcastiron.jpgSo, with each use of the oven, the heat was being turned down, and since it was cold outside, it was keeping the kitchen and living room (where we were) warm without turning the heat on. It was all very productive, and I not only saved energy, but I cut down on waste and encouraged good nutrition! It is hard not to feel good about that!So, happy Blog Action Day! What have you done to help the environment today?

Crocheted washcloths/face flannels

October 14, 2007 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Craft, frugal, recycling, simplicity | 5 Comments

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So, the kids needed some new washcloths and I decided to try my hand at making them myself. I don’t own a serger, so I decided to use some Freecycled cotton to crochet them. I had just enough of each of the cotton to make a washcloth, or two, so this was a great way to use up the remains. The center, light purple one, I did with a single crochet, but I found it a little to tight and heavy when wet. I tried the yellow with red trim using a half-double crochet. I liked it much better, but I wanted the weave just a little tighter. I kept working down with hook size till I found that using a “h” hook with the HDC gave me a cloth that was not to heavy when filled with water, and was soft and flexible enough that the kids like it’s feel on their faces. So, here they are, my new set of washcloths, cost =$0, recycled = 100%, fun for the kids to have their own homemade washcloths (face flannels) = priceless!

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