Saturday, June 26, 2010

does this ever happen to you?!

it's a darned good thing we have a sense of humour around here.  but watch where you step on our kitchen floor.  better yet, wear shoes.

i hope you are all having a good weekend, and a tidier one than I am!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

been a BAD blogger

so I got insanely overwhelmed at the sheer amount of computer-type things related to being an online seller.... and then the good weather hit.  and the baba learned to talk (and tantrum)... and I kept putting off blogging.  and even thought about stopping!  but then i realised it's FUN!... oh, and also, I randomly compose new blog articles in my head as I'm wandering around, or falling asleep, or whatever... so I'll keep going.  If you'll let me?  in the mean time, here're a few of my most recent items!
My newest model, baby Mattea, is making life in the land of photography VERY much cuter....isn't she adorable?!
I love my baba.  but she's not a willing model most of the time......and a lot of my stuff just isn't her size!  here's mattea again (by the way.. those baby pants are CASHMERE!!!):
I've REALLY gotten into the crocheting... it's a lot easier to sit with the kids doing whatever they want to do while crocheting than it is to sit at the sewing machine....and you can't take the machine with you like crocheting!!! apparently I'm getting addicted?!!
Here're my lovely girls showing off another beautiful hat.  Yes, the toddler and the kindergartener both have the same size head......
and some little dudes i've needle felted...

I've been having so much fun... this weekend I think I'm going to make some tye-dyed playsilks for the shop.  I bought some wonderful 55" habotai silk and am just itching for a chance to colour it (and the counters, and my fingers, and probably a shirt......) and add it to my items!  I have several around the house already and they are WELL loved and played with...

thanks for reading - maybe I'll do a post on HOW to do the silks?!!!!
see you soon.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Let There Be Love Rehearsal

Some of you know that I sing in the rainbow Chorus of waterloo wellington region. This coming concert we sing with another LGBT choir - Singing Out! of Toronto. Here's a peek at one of our rehearsals - both choirs singing together! This is the first time we've sung together. I hope u enjoy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

quick and easy.

So pasta.  the quick, easy, last minute meal that happens in this house at least once a week.  I know the adults will eat it, I KNOW the kids will eat it, and it doesn't take long to prepare.

Most of the time I use sauce out of a jar and add extra vegetables to it.  
Occasionally I offer pasta and forget that we don't have sauce!  That's where my wonderful sister-in-law's trick comes in.  I can't remember where she got this recipe, so I can't give it proper credit, sadly... but I've used it LOTS of times.  And it's REALLY GOOD.

quick 'n easy last-minute emergency pasta sauce

one can or jar stewed tomatoes
one can tomato paste
one can condensed tomato soup (yes, trust me)
any other chopped small pasta sauce vegetables or proteins you would like *optional*
(suggestions -mushrooms, onions, spinach is good, some people like carrots, ground meat or meat substitute, sausage, I've added broccoli on occasion cuz my kids love it)
basil to taste
oregano to taste
garlic to taste
bay leaves to taste
salt to taste

Mix it all up in a pot or deep pan and cook until hot and tomatoes are all mixed in well.  Simmer for a bit to let the spice flavours meld in.  If you're using ground meat, brown it first, pour out grease and add at the end.

That's it!  Really.   It takes almost the same amount of time as pasta sauce from a jar, and tastes awesome!
Sometimes its the little things in life.  

Saturday, April 10, 2010


So I finally got time to really work, and had the focus to do it!  got through a whole lotta new stuff - finished stuff I started and made much more - here's a gallery of all the listings!!!!

As always, I appreciate any feedback, pats on the back, talk back, show back, or any other "back"....  and as always, you can find this stuff at BABAZOOBEE - the shop!  Or click on the handy shopping pane on your left.....

Monday, April 5, 2010

baby products I LOVE

okay.. so despite being all environmentally-conscious and shop local, and shop handmade-like, there are a few commercially manufactured products for my kiddos that I have LOVED and don't think I could manage without.  I think I'll take this blog post to share some of them.

**Please note - I worked for 4 years in a baby-stuff shop.  I know a thing or two about baby stuffs.

1) SEWFUNKY BABY SLING - yes, that's an image of me, with toddler D several years ago.   This is my #1 can NOT live without product. I am NEVER without this sling.  or a version of it.  I have many.  I won't tell how many.  Ring slings, pocket slings, mesh pocket sling, meitai - baby wrap - all from this lovely woman.  And to be fair, I am starting off with something that is both a retail store available product AND a home-hand-crafted product.  The woman behind these slings (and yes, it is still a 1 woman operation) is amazing - an inspiration.  And a good friend.

2)  THE SNACK TRAP.  I loved this thing for my FIRST kiddo.  She's 5 and I still give it to her on occasion.  It keeps the majority of the snacks IN, and she can easily get stuff OUT.  To be fair, my 1.5 year old prefers to pull stuff out by the handful and dump it on the floor....but she could do that with anything!

3) MOTHEREASE BAMBOO DIAPERS - I have tried pocket diapers, flat diapers (which are great for tiny infants), disposables of all types, and the motherease one size cottons.  THESE diapers hold a LOT, wash well, dry well, and are fairly leak resistant.  They are comfy to wear (for the baby -she clearly prefers them over the disposables we use on occasion -  and the 5 year old tried them on and said she loved them too - she's a goof.)  These also can be put on like underwear for impatient toddlers/training toddlers

4) MOTHEREASE AIRFLOW COVERS - the absolute BEST diaper cover I have used - fits well, adjusts at waist and thighs seperately, is breathable, and fits a lot of sizes - very rarely have I had a leak out of these -  and when I have, it's either because i've been neglectful and left kiddo in the diaper for like 6 or more house (don't tell anyone i've done that...)or have accidentally left some of the diaper exposed.

5)  SOPHIE THE GIRAFFE - I don't think I need to say more about this.  Everyone knows her.  She's great.  And the kiddo loves her.  Both of them.  Again, the 5 year old is a goof.

6) BRITAX CAR SEATS - I won't use another kind with my kids.  Check the website.  and the ratings.  and reviews.  You'll be converted.  Despite the price.

7) BABY BJORN POTTY -   best design ever.  Simple, Easy to use.  and the little potty lives in our car for road trip emergencies.  Even yes, for the 5 year old.

8)  KETTLER TRIKES - the best of ofthe best.  and man did we look around.  Ours is on kid 2 and still looks brand brand brand new.  and half of the neighbourhood (including 8 and 9 year olds) has ridden ours.

9)  THE TINY DINER - the best travel feeding tray EVER.   a little scoop off the table lets food drops land there - not on restaurant or friends' floors, not on laps!

10) THE TEETHING FEEDER - Actually works amazingly for both purposes!!!  When both my daughters were before food feeding age and were teething we'd freeze cubes of formula or breastmilk and put them in the mesh bag for the girls to chew/suck on.... As feeding age came apon us, solid foods that were soft (like pieces of mango, peach, cooked carrots, sweet potato, etc) placed in there gave baby something to chew on for teething, while feeding them at the same time!  Worked amazingly for both my picky eater (who hardly ate anything) AND my eats-anything baby (who STILL wants whatever we have whenever we have it and won't take no for an answer)

I do not take myself as an expert, nor is this advice for anyone else entering the world of parenting.  These are just things I loved/still love - and have had access to.  YES this is a biased account.  It is also only a partial list.  I did not list anything I can or have made myself.  That's a posting for another day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

the diaper bag!!!

I finally finished it!   The epic journey to create a diaper bag out of wool sweaters has come to a close.  Well, almost.  The grand finale will be someone buying it!  I won't tell you how many hours it took, but it did take 2 sweater bodies, cotton linen from some extra length of two IKEA curtains (how tall do they think a room IS, anyhow?!!) and some stretch cotton (3% lycra).   Oh, and some amazing vintage buttons, to boot!  Here're the results.  Not sure I'm Loving the Pics.. will see.....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

my how-to of the month - recycled packaging

Now, when I thought of recycled packaging originally, I thought of that beat up manilla envelope with the lines on the one side that the teachers handed back and forth in grade school - the wrinkly, torn, scribbled thing that you thought should just be chucked out.

Then I read on Paddle My Canoe the shop of my friend Leah, that she used recycled cereal boxes and the like.  My first instinct was that she cut them up and made envelopes out of them.  Which works, but only for small things.  So I experimented, ripped a few boxes, cut a few the wrong way around, and then discovered that it is ridiculously easy to make a professional looking, simple cardboard package with only a bit of packing tape!

really, I just turned the box inside out.  Here are the pics:

there!  doesn't that look like a nice professional packing box?  You can also cut the cardboard (when it is still flattened) to a custom size - just make sure to leave enough cardboard to make flaps!   

I usually add a colour printed thank you card with washing instructions specific to the item, and a handwritten thanks inside!  Oh, and a couple of business cards, of course  ;)  If  I have any tissue paper from a recent gift, I'll wrap the article in that too..But I never buy the stuff...
I have whole-sheet printing labels - when you print your mailing labels online they stick on the front perfectly and just look so professional and purty!  And then I just stick it in the mailbox.. No waiting in line!

Sometimes things are so simple they completely escape us as good ideas!  I have a whole box of flattened cereal, cracker, and snackfood boxes...mostly cereal though.  This idea is good for shipping just about anything - and it's great for gift giving too - for boxing fabric gifts before trying to wrap them - or better yet, get your child to colour all over the flattened box and make it the wrapping too!  the forests will thank you!

Hope this becomes an upcycling project in your neck of the woods!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

my love-hate relationship with crochet.

so it started out as a necessity.  I needed to learn to crochet so i could make the caps for the waldorf-doll hair.  (you make a cap, sew it to the dolls' head, and then latchhook each hair into place individually - tedious, but then the hair is playable and styleable).   I sucked at it.  HUGE.   But hey, no one saw it, cuz it was all latch hooked over, so it didn't matter.

Then, my friend tanja, of sewfunky slings, made my daughter a beautiful crocheted winter earflap hat for her first birthday.  I decided at that point that I wasn't going to remain bad and slow at crocheting, if only to get more proficient at making the doll wig caps....

Something happened.  I'm still no good at reading patterns, though a really really really good book is helping me figure that out (the stitch 'n bitch guide - the happy hooker) - i got it out of the local library, have used all 6 weeks (including my renewal) and am onto my partner's library card with it!  But I can crochet!  I can chain, single, half double, double, and triple stitch along with the best of them!!!!

And to top it all off... I'm HOOKED (pardon the pun).  I can't stop crocheting little hats and shoes!  It started with the hat and booties from my previous how-to post (the hand dyed wool), and now I'm doing summer hats out of cotton!  Eventually I'll consider moving onto other things, but the great thing about hats is that they're fun, I seem to be good at creating patterns for them in my head (I can see the end project and easily figure out how to get there - can't do that with knitting as well) and they're pretty quick (well, maybe not as quick for me as others, but the gratification is pretty instantaneous)....

So here they are.  A few more hats.  And I have a couple more on the go.  Trying for some bigger brims, and for some more gender neutral and "boyish" styles...Check them out at the shop, heart them, heart the shop, heart what you like!  (hearts are well loved on etsy.  they help us crafters feel encouraged to continue our passion.  Working from home means no co-workers to pat us on the back
  Oh.  And I'm opening the shop up to special orders, requests, custom orders, etc..  I've gotten a few orders from people who were brave enough to ask about it, so I thought I'd make it official.   I've done the slippers in toddler and children and adult sizes, I'm working to summer designs for the slippers with leather instead of sheepskin, and I'll do the hats in other colours and sizes too!!!  Just let me know in the conversation section of  my etsy shop and I'll let you know what I am capable of.

Coming soon:  Upcycled DIAPER BAGS - working on one of wool right now!  Will let you in on how it goes soon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

and the winner is.....

I wrote the names of the 5 entrants down on papers, shuffled them about a bunch of times and grabbed one: The OFFICIAL WINNER OF THE FEEDBACK DRAW IS (insert drumroll please) ☺☻♥☺☻♥♪♫♪♫♪KRISTI KEMP of Hamilton ON♫♪♫♪♥☻☺♥☻☺

contact me to arrange your prize!!!!!
thank  you to all who entered....
new draws and giveaways coming soon!

Friday, February 26, 2010

FINALLY - my adventures with reclaimed wool!

So I had heard of people taking apart sweaters and reusing the yarn to make new things, and I also learned how to dye yarn at a workshop at the knit-a-thon a while back... I thought I'd combine the two projects into one superproject, and share it with you..
I started by buying an off white 100% wool sweater at Value Village (called Savers in some places) for  $4.00 at a 1/2 price sale in January.  Read a few articles on how to take the sweater apart, and then gave it a go.....  Here's the sweater:

Next, I hunted down all the stitched seams, and discombobulated the sweater - that is, took my stitch ripper to all the stitched seams until the sweater was in several parts - the front body, the back body, each sleeve opened and flattened, and the bottom cuffs (it took me a bit to figure out they were seperate pieces from the body.

Next, I took FOREVER to figure out which end the sweater knitting had finished at, and picked apart the bottom row with the stitch ripper, making a HUGE mess, but I couldn't figure out how else to get things loose.... I ripped the edge loops a stitch at a time until I got a loose end of yarn that would pull apart from the sweater and keep going.  Failing to have a fancy nick-nack to wrap the yarn on as I went, I just wrapped it around my knee - which gave me a good 15 minutes at a time where I had a perfectly good excuse to make my partner chase after the kids instead of me:  "I'm sorry, dear, I can't move right now, I'm tied up!"

luckily the little coloured yarns added to this sweater were just tied one end to the other and sewed into place - very easy to pull out... the cats quite liked them, but they were too short to be useful for anything else except the kids' craft bin....  

In the end I had 4 HUGE ball-type thingies of yarn that looked like this:
all from $4 worth of sweater, remember.
This yarn is all kinky at this point from having lived in knitted formation for so long.  I'm keeping one ball exactly this way to do some curly blonde hair on a doll or two, but each other ball is getting a different treatment.

To dye the wool, first I needed to rewrap my yarn into a hank (or a skein - different people call it different things) - basically a big loop of yarn.  Again, failing to have a fancy tool for this, I opted to wrap the yarn around my swivel office-chair back - after a few loops I could sit on the adjacent couch and just spin the chair round and round until the yarn was gone - this took a LONG time - each of those balls is over 200 YARDS of plied wool yarn!  Luckily B loved the ride  :)
Then I tied the hank in 4 or so places with some acrylic yarn - I wanted to be able to see the tied on pieces after I dyed the yarn, so I didn't want the ties to be able to be dyed - the acrylic wasn't dyeable...This gave me a neat, yet still kinky hank of yarn that looked much like this:
  Then, I wasted a HUGE lot of time trying different types of dyeing styles.  Here's one way I tried:  soaking the yarn in tubs of vinegar and food colouring.  I soaked them for 30 hours and very little dye took..... what ended up working goes as follows:
I used wilton concentrated food colouring paste.  That's them in the three little tubs in the foreground.  I mixed the dyes in the big tubs with vinegar and water ( I think about 1 Litre of vinegar to about 8 Litres of water, but I don't think I necessarily needed that much) until a scoop of the mixture in a clear glass looked something like what I wanted (in this case, purple and green):

Then I poured the mixtures into big pots, and cooked each side of my hank of yarn in a pot over low-medium heat until the dye absorbed into the yarn - it was cool, cuz the water/vinegar mixture ended up almost colourless in the end, with coloured dye in it...  I dyed purple at one end, green at the other, and after those had cooled, I did red in the middle: 
You can still see how the yarn is a bit kinky, and definitely unevenly stretched out.  To fix this, I hung the yarn to dry around a coat hanger in my laundry room and actually hung a 2 lb hand weight in the loop to stretch out the yarn as it dried!  In the end, I had a beautiful hank of hand-dyed 100% wool yarn.
However, it is impossible to actually create anything with a hank of yarn, so I rolled it into a centre pull ball (didn't know I could do that either) - Basically you grab one end in your fingers, and wrap an entire ball around the thumb of that hand - wrap around your thumb 20 or so times, give the yarn on your thumb a 20 or so degree turn, repeat, until all yarn is balled.  In the end, pull your thumb out of the ball, and the yarn end that you have in that hand is the centre pull yarn
This one huge ball of yarn has created a crocheted pair of sheepskin-soled booties and a matching ear flap hat for a small baby - and there's still TONS of it left.  And don't forget, there are still 3 other balls the same size that I haven't done anything with yet!   All for 4 bucks!  And another piece of preexisting material is saved from landfill and turned into more beautiful useable things with non-toxic materials that I already had in my home!  How much does THAT rock?!!
The booties and hat are available HERE for sale at my shop!