Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cloth Diapering According to Facebook

It wasn't long after I started cloth diapering that I joined a few cloth-diaper related groups on Facebook. From time to time, cloth diapering memes, infographics, and other pictures would pop up in my news feed. I started saving them because I found them so amusing. They definitely tell you a thing or two about the cloth diapering community (like that some moms find it totally addicting). Here's a few of my favorites that I wanted to share!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vintage Apron Tutorial

Wanna know how to make it? Read on!
Jon and I attended a wedding this past weekend. A few months ago, I was snooping around on the bride's Pinterest boards to get some ideas for a handmade gift. It wasn't long before I stumbled across these darling aprons:

I LOVE making aprons. I like adding them to a gift bag of other kitchen items from a registry, or a cute pair of "his" and "her" mugs. From the look of her other Pinterest boards, this particular bride seemed to appreciate vintage items. So, I decided to make her apron out of fabric I inherited from my grandma's fabric stash. It has this adorable horse-and-buggy print marching across the bottom.

As for the pattern, I modeled the gift apron off of one I received a few years ago. I always wanted to copy its unique way of tying in the back. The shoulder straps actually become the tie at the waist.

I started by folding my fabric in half and cutting pieces away so that it looked like my cherry apron.

I used some of the extra fabric to cut out pockets.

Next, I hemmed the long sides of the apron.

To make the ruffle for the bottom, I cut a long, two-inch wide strip of fabric and hemmed one of the sides (double roll, one seam through all the layers). It was about two yards long.

I then sewed the non-hemmed edge to the bottom of the apron. I rolled up the very end of the strip for a nice, clean edge, and then proceeded to pinch the fabric to make an "accordion" ruffle. I made sure that I had a long enough strip so that I wouldn't run out of ruffle when I came to the end of the apron.

After the ruffle was attached to the bottom edge, I noticed that it didn't lay flat. Rather than merely ironing, I ran another seam along the ruffle's top edge. Essentially, this forced the ruffle to point "down" instead of "out."

Mommy's little distraction...I mean "helper!"
Next, I made the straps. I sewed a long tube of fabric, about three yards long, by folding a 3-inch wide strip over and sewing the edges to each other.  This tube then had to be turned inside out so that the seam was hidden inside. This took a little longer than planned because Jadon wanted to get in on the fun (story of my life these days!). When I finally finished turning it inside out, I centered the seam in the middle of the tube, and ironed it flat. I also tucked in the ends of the tub for a nice, clean finish.

Because aprons tend to get dirty, and therefore need to be washed, I decided to sew along the sides of my tube so that the straps would stay flat. Then, I cut this three-yard long flat tube in half so that I would have two separate straps.

The next step was probably the trickiest of the whole project. I wanted the straps to connect to the top of the apron behind another ruffle. This meant I had a lot of layering to do, and in the right order (see above). With my apron body facing down, I first laid down the ruffle. I made sure to roll the end and start my "accordion" look before proceeding (just like the bottom ruffle). Then, I placed the end of the strap on top of the ruffle. Carefully holding all these layers in place, I slowly sewed through them all, stopping after I passed the strap (top left picture, above). Then, I had to continue pinching and folding my accordion ruffle (top right). Before I reached the end of the ruffle, I added the other strap, and carefully sewed it in place (bottom right). I rolled the other end of my ruffle as I came to the edge of the apron.

Like the bottom ruffle, my top ruffle stuck out awkwardly, so I ran another seam along the edge of the ruffle to tack it down. Hopefully, the pictures above make the process a little clearer!

The straps have to go through a small loop in order to function for the shoulders and waist. I cut two small rectangles of fabric (maybe two inches by six inches?), folded the edges, ironed the folds, and sewed a zig-zag stitch down the center to hold it all together. Then, I sewed the loops on the apron for the straps to go through.

Final step: pockets. I cut small slits in the "hand opening" so that I could fold down the edge without the fabric bunching up (top right picture, above), and sewed the fold in place. Then, I ironed a narrow fold around the perimeter of the rest of the pocket (bottom left). Now the pocket was ready to be sewn to the apron, leaving the hand opening open, of course. I kind of like how the pockets are "camouflaged" with the rest of the apron (bottom right).

Here's the finished apron! I'm hoping it brightens the kitchen of the newlyweds as they start their lives together.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Witnessing a Home Birth

For those of you who have read Jadon's birth story, you know that we planned on having a home birth, but ended up with a c-section. Jadon turned breech during my labor at home, and I wasn't comfortable with the risks of having him there in that position.

I've recounted the details of Jadon's birth to myself a hundred times since he was born. I don't regret any of the decisions I made in those moments. Yet, I still wish I could have experienced the home setting that I planned for. I look forward to birthing our future children at home.

Throughout my pregnancy and surgery recovery, I read a lot of birth stories, most of which were natural home births. There was one story that has really stuck with me, and it was almost entirely told in pictures. This image in particular has been etched in my mind:

Click here to go to the story and more pictures!
The woman in the birth pool just delivered her third child. Her first two were born in a hospital. She wanted to have a lot of support giving birth at home, so she invited friends who would be interested in seeing a home birth. She also invited some women who could not give birth vaginally.

I love the joy on the faces of the witnesses.

One week ago, I experienced that same joy. I was present at the home of a dear friend when she and her husband welcomed a baby boy into the world, their second child. This friend also happened to be my doula, who faithfully journeyed with me through my pregnancy, home labor, hospital transfer, and surgical birth. I was so honored that she asked me, of all people, to be present at her home birth as her doula.

I started praying for the birth when we got a text early in the morning because her water broke. I arrived when my friend's contractions were just starting to get more intense. I helped put pressure on her back during contractions when her husband was out of the room. I made dinner for the midwives, and hoped that kitchen noises were somehow comforting to my "foodie" friend. The midwife let me help catch the baby and hand him to his mother. I helped my friend get out of the birth pool. I helped put her bedroom back in order while she gave directions from the bed. I stayed the night with Jon and Jadon. I stayed the next day to help with little tasks. I saw the big sister meet her little brother for the first time.

While I won't recount all the details of the birth (that's my friend's story to tell!), I will say that I can relate to all the women in the photograph above because of that experience. I know what it's like to feel triumph just watching a baby be born. I know what those gloves feel like in the water. I also hope beyond hope that I will get to be the women in the tub someday.

I'm already reading a lot of VBAC home birth stories.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Make Your Own Butter

I'm always on a mission to eat healthy and save money, so I can't believe I haven't started making butter at home sooner. 

You may be surprised to see that I said "healthy" and "butter" in the same sentence. If so, you should read the untold story of butter. Our bodies need saturated fats like butter. Butter is also a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals, and more. If you eat raw butter from grassfed cows, you maximize your benefits. Too bad raw butter is hard to come by, and expensive, right?

Wrong! Making raw butter yourself is easy. All you need is access to fresh raw milk, and a means for whipping the heck out of the cream. Here's what I did to make the freshest butter I've ever tasted:

The cream is getting thicker!
First, I skimmed the cream off the top of my raw milk. I poured about one cup of cream into my blender, and started the machine. For the first few minutes of blending, the cream did not appear to change much. After about five minutes, I noticed that it was getting thicker along the sides of the glass.

You can see on the spoon how the buttermilk separated.
After about ten minutes, the thicker parts seemed to slowly disappear. While the blender was running, all I could see was very runny cream. However, when I stopped the blender, the clumps of better was easy to see. It appeared runny at first because the buttermilk separated from the cream.

Next, I poured the contents of the blender through a strainer. There was a lot more buttermilk than I expected (maybe I'll make pancakes with it!). My butter still seemed a little too wet, though.

I decided to put the butter back in the blender for a little more beating. That separated out a little more buttermilk. By this time, the butter was very warm, soft, and whipped. I put it in a bowl and placed it in the fridge to cool and harden. Within an hour, it was stiff. 

Now I'm going to have to start searching for a mold to make fancy butters for special occasions...or maybe I'll just use my fruit snacks molds?