thispoorgirllife











{November 15, 2013}   Weighted Sensory Bears

Having a child with ASD and sensory issues prompted me to make these bears. They are soft, tough, unique and weighted. Weighted toys, blankets, vests and lap pads are commonly used for children with autism, sensory processing disorders and ADHD, as the weight helps to refocus their energy and calm them down. Children who have trouble sleeping, sitting still or focusing during a quiet time can benefit from these products. This link gives some examples of the benefits of weighted blankets. http://www.especialneeds.com/benefits-of-using-weighted-blankets-to-help-children-with-sensory-processing.html

I designed my bears to be something a little more convenient and comforting, you can’t always have a blanket with you, and the friendship a toy offers can add a little extra comfort! Now I now you are thinking, the cost of these seems really high! Alot of time and love go into each of these bears. They are completely hand made, and made from entirely natural products. There is nothing synthetic in these bears. I use pure wool, as it retains body heat (the more you snuggle your bear, the warmer it feels) and the felting process makes the fabric very, very strong. These bears are crocheted, felted, stuffed and sewn. I needle felt all of the seams to make them stronger. If your bear is weighted with a felted rock, that is also done by hand. The bears which are weighted with rice packs, contain a handmade cotton bag containing the desired weight of rice. I’ve posted a few photos of the process behind the bears to give you an idea. Including drying time, it can take up to 2 days to make a single bear.

Crocheting bear body

Crocheting bear body

drying felted parts

drying felted parts

pure wool stuffing
pure wool stuffing

wet felting a rock
wet felting a rock

Needle felting a face

Needle felting a face

 

 



{September 4, 2013}   I’m not a supermom.

I’m not. I cry, I curse, I lose my temper. I do a lot, some days. My house is rarely clean, and if it is miraculously clean, that will only last a day. I have at least a dozen projects (or the supplies and intentions for them) strewn throughout not only my studio, but also my living room. My kids’ rooms are a mess, and I rarely ever fold, let alone put away, my laundry. I grow a large garden, raise chickens and ducks, dogs and tarantulas. Kids too. I bake, can and things of that nature. I try to feed my family the best stuff I can, even if that means shoving loads of shredded veggies into a store-bought cake mix (they can tell if I do it from scratch and they boycott. Even with the addition of chocolate chips.)  I work from home, and I work several hours a day usually seven days a week. In the winter I work 18 hour days, 6-7 days a week. On a good year, I break even. I spend a weekend preparing the meals for the month during the winter so I can spend my time between work and family. I bake, chop, label and freeze. I have a teenage daughter (enough said.). I have a son with ASD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Some days I spend my sleeping hours working, because my working hours are spent with him when he is having a rough day. We spend hours with therapists, school counselors and teachers, in hopes that we can help him make sense of the world. And so I understand how to help him. I am scatterbrained, forgetful, and often stressed. I have more on my “to-do” list than I can ever hope to do. But I am living my dream. I will reach my goals. And I know that the only way to do so is by working hard, because your dreams don’t come easy. They don’t come neatly wrapped in a package, they come with pain, sweat, a lot of tears and some foul language (maybe a lot of foul language.) If you relax too much you will lose it, it will fall apart. You will have to start over again, and work twice as hard to get it back. If you have the strength to do so. It is a hard fall to take. Every morning while the kids are still in bed, I enjoy the quiet and my coffee and I look at my life. I think about my goals, I think about what has to be done to get to where I want to be. Where I want my family to be. I think about my Matty, who has more faith in me than I do myself, and how much he helps me. He’s the wall I lean on, the one who loves me even when I’m a bawling, snotty mess. The one who tells me everything will be ok, and that he knows I can do this. I think about my kids who need me to be positive and there for them. I try to take some time for myself, do some yoga, go for a walk, usually I just spend some time in the chicken yard or garden and reflect. I’m thankful for my life. I am blessed. The path is long, and it is really hard, but it is my path to forge. Everything I do either helps me get ahead, or pushes me back. Ultimately, it is me who decides where this path is going, not someone else, not the gods or fates. Just me. So today I’ll bake, knit, and sew while the house is quiet. I’ll play with my pets and my kids, and take some time to watch a movie with my honey after he gets home from work (with knitting in hand of course… have to multitask) and hope that my choices move me a little further ahead.



{February 25, 2013}   The Year of the Underdog!

“The Year of the Underdog” This has been my mantra lately, and the more I push for it the more opportunities present themselves to me! So far this year has started off with a bang, and though my motivation has been a little off lately I have come pretty far! I really try to help out my friends in the industry where I can, because without a good core group of awesome people, you are only as good as yourself! By all of us working together, we create a whole new awesomeness, and help each other reach our goals.

As far as my motivation goes, well I think I have overwhelmed myself with goals and responsibilities, and though I have tried to pare them down I only seem to acquire more. Maybe if I write about them here, it will help kick me into high gear. (Also, the sun is coming out more and more which really helps my motivation!) So here they are!

  • So, goal #1 is FOOD! I am buying in bulk to save money, making everything I can from scratch to improve quality and reduce additives. Everything from Pop-tarts to tortillas, I have made alot this last month! And Cut the grocery bill nearly in half 🙂 I’m pretty pleased about this! It really only takes 1 day of meal prep for dinners (2 weeks worth) and 1 day a week for baking. That leaves me all the rest of the week to get my work and other family stuff done! Bread is one thing I buy, I do make it once a week or so, but with packed lunches we go through a loaf every other day. I can’t keep up!
  • Goal #2 Family Health! I started doing my workout tapes every morning, alternating between a few that I have (I love my 8 minute Tae-Bo, it is the fastest and pretty darn effective!) I decided I can’t have my coffee in the morning until I have done a workout. This is a really good motivator for me, because I am the dragon lady without my coffee. So far it has worked really well! I do take Sunday off though.  I also just ordered a Wii Sorts package, along with the kids Nickelodeon Wii Fit program. I think it is time we all get into better health, plus the kids want one and though I am against video games, I think this is something that will work. It gets them active and I have banned all “gamer” type games. Only fitness and sports, (ok, maybe a little karaoke too) Plus, outdoor season is almost upon us, so we will be doing plenty of hiking and such as usual. Another part of our family health is Mental Health. Having a child with ASD is very hard on ones well being. Not only for the child, but for those who live with them. The unexpected outbursts, the sensory issues, the meltdowns; it is just not something you get used to, even when it is something you expect. We all have a lot to learn, and we are all working together to improve. 
  • Goal #3 the Homestead! This year, the garden will be HUGE! At least, huge by my standards, which means bigger than 2 6X6 plots. Lots of fresh veggies and fruits await us this year! Time to hone my canning skills! We also have a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer for freezing, along with our big chest freezer! We’re getting chickens this year as well, so not only will the kids get to dive into feeding and gathering eggs, but we are going to raise them from little chicks so that they are tame and used to us. By having the kids more involved in where our food comes from and how it’s created, I think will not only give them a sense of real living, but also a good feeling of accomplishment. 
  • Last, but definitely not least, The Business! I have already this year been given opportunities for publication, which is a huge, huge thing for me! I’ve had small mentions here and there, but never been a feature. I am so thankful and thrilled I barely no what to say! It is an amazing opportunity, and one I work hard to share with those who have helped me thus far. The Better Living Show is coming up, and I can’t wait for the exciting new things that are coming to this year’s event! I’m working really hard to come up with new designs, and stocking up to have a good inventory for the show. I hope to see you all there! My biggest goal for this year is to be nominated in the Portland Fashion and Style Awards. This is a huge deal to me, and I don’t care about winning (not that I would complain) my goal is to simply be good enough to be recognized. That means a lot of hard work and dedication, and really getting myself out there. Public speaking and really talking about myself and my business, selling myself if you will, has always been difficult for me. This year I want to get past that and really show them what I’ve got! 

So those are my main goals this year, I have smaller ones intermingled with the rest, but I just want to get the big ones out there, in hopes that it will help remind me and keep me motivated when I feel down. And I do feel down a lot. Family life can be difficult, especially having a child with ASD. The anger, and the tantrums, and the OCD, the sensory issues, the lack of understanding on all parts It is stressful, and time consuming and something we are all working together on to improve. Having our home and health being a main focus in my goals I think will improve all of our moods and lives in turn. 

But I am going to post my “home” goals in the house, and post my “business” goals in my studio to remind me to reach for my stars. I know I’ll never reach them if I keep my feet on the ground, so it is time to put on a helmet and take the leap! 



2012 was a learning year for me; but for every down there was an up that shortly followed.

  • We moved into a place we loved, only to have the owners decide to sell early. We found a new place, which we love, and still has many of the things we loved about the last.
  • My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, while upsetting, at least it gave us information to work with and goals to set. He had a very difficult time in school this fall, and we’re hoping his new school and the work we are doing with him will help make things easier for him.
  • Sales were down this year, and I had some major problems with the postal system this holiday season; which cost me a lot of time, money and stress. 

2012 was a roller coaster, there is no other way to put it. 2013 will have it’s share of ups and downs as well, but I think the more difficult ones are behind me, and I have the tools to face 2013 bravely. I have been learning new skills where I can, and have been researching new online sales venues for my products. I have come up with a list of products lines to try out, and I have a small shop on my property where I can not only work in peace, but can also bring people to shop or create custom designs for. 

I have downloaded several books on Asperger’s Syndrome, teaching social skills, and working on explosive behavior, in hopes that I can make 2013 a better year for my son as well. We learned alot last year about visual aids; schedules, chore charts, and moods, so I plan to take my new knowledge and incorporate it into these visual aids. 

I have a touch of ADD, and I am working on creating a schedule for myself as well. I plan to follow my schedule, keep my shop organized, and make everything run more smoothly. 

I am taking this year by the throat. I have determination, I have goals, and dammit, I will reach them! 

  1. We will work as a family to make our life together more peaceful. We will argue less, set goals for us, and work hard to reach them together. 
  2. We will be more positive. The whole family. This last year the kids have really moved away from each other, and in essence divided themselves from us. It became a chore to go on family outings, and made it so stressful for everyone. This year is going to be different. 
  3. I will run my business more smoothly. I won’t over work,I will stock up more, I will follow my schedule, I will create new designs, and I will work hard to network and market myself more. I need to be proud of what I do, and that needs to show in my networking and social skills. 
  4. I won’t let things get me down. I tend to let things really bother me; if something doesn’t go the way I plan, I tend to look at it as if I failed. Instead, I need to look more at difficulties as lessons. If a design doesn’t come out right, maybe it needs to be changed, if my kids argue, they need to do something together rather than go their separate ways. 

This year I have a lot more to learn, a lot of knowledge to apply, and I will need a lot of strength to get me through. I couldn’t have gotten through last year without Matt. He was my  shoulder to cry on, my comfort, the one who gave me a shove when I needed it (even when I didn’t think I was ready for it.) He encourages me in every way, tells me he’s proud of me, he tells me he knows I can do it, even when I am sure I can’t. He pushes me when I want to give up, and sticks up for me when I can’t. He has put up with so much over the years, and hasn’t walked away from us. I often wonder how he can handle it all, and still look at me the way he does. 

So here is to 2013; beat the downs, reach the stars, and never look back on what was or could have been. Your goals are ahead, not behind you. 



The busy season has begun, so if you are thinking of making some purchases, here are the dates you need to know! Please remember, everything I have is made by hand, and over the holiday season custom orders can take up to two weeks to be completed and shipped. I do my best to get everything completed as quickly as possible, but I will not sacrifice quality for time.

Please note the following shipping schedules for holiday orders:

International Purchases need to be made by December 3rd  for ‘Custom Made’ items, December 10th for ‘Ready to Ship’ in order to ensure they will arrive in time for Christmas.  Please note some countries may charge customers a Customs Fee, this fee varies, and the purchaser is responsible for that fee. I have only seen this happen once, so it is not common, but it can occur.

Domestic Ready to Ship’ purchases can be placed up to December 18th to arrive by Christmas. ‘Custom Made’ orders need to be placed by December 10th in order to ensure they will be ready to ship in time for Christmas arrival. Orders place in time will be shipped by December 20th, with an estimated 2-3 day arrival time.

I do offer discounts on multiple purchases, please contact me for a custom listing with the discount.

Rush orders may be available for a small fee, please contact me for details.

*Please note that I am not responsible for delays within the postal service. I will ship all items by the above listed dates if they are ordered within the proper time frame. Orders can still be placed after these dates, but I cannot guarantee that they will arrive by Christmas.



{September 6, 2012}   I have a rant

I usually don’t rant, bitch, peeve or otherwise voice my opinion on touchy topics, but I’m moody today so we’ll blame it on that. So everywhere I look, I see Breast Cancer Awareness. Billboards, newspapers, magazines, marathons, bumper stickers, contests, concerts, knitting and crochet patterns even! Not that I am against them, I am totally for their cause, don’t get me wrong! But there are other cancers out there, just as awful, just as deadly, and not just for women! Testicular cancer for example; ever see a bumper sticker that says “Feel your nuts”? I see “Feel your boobies” all the time! I am a survivor of Cervical Cancer, and I never once have seen anything supporting Cervical Cancer. No hats, scarves, bumper stickers, magazine ads; no support groups, no fundraisers….. I have to say it pisses me off. I had a hysterectomy at 26, I was lucky! I was able to make it through with several surgeries rather than chemo, and haven’t had any rebounds. I only had my family to support me, no groups, no marathons, no one to help pay my surgery bills. Maybe talking about the “nether-regions” is too taboo. It’s ok to have “truck nuts” but a bumper sticker that says “Test Your Testes!.” These cancers are just as deadly, and many people have lost family members and friends, or suffered through chemo or surgeries if they are lucky enough to catch it.

I want to change this. I want to get something big going, something that draws attention to these cancers. Screw the subject matter, it is real, and it happens every day! We need to make it a big deal. Who wants to get on board? Let’s make something happen! I’m going to come up with some new patterns and get ahold of some organizations to set up some fundraising! Please get ahold of me if you want to help!

I started a Facebook group as well, please join!

https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/280325345406881/members/



So, if you follow my blog, you know we recently moved out to the country. Way out to the country. Our town consists of a post office, two mini mart/gas stations, a bar and some campgrounds. I’m learning alot in my time here, even though it has only been a month and a half; we decided with the move we were going to make some major lifestyle changes as well.

We planted a garden, small but growing happily. We got a clothes line to air dry our laundry, and I made my first batch of homemade laundry soap. I learned that it is best to make the liquid version, than the powdered; as I pick soap flakes off my clothes while hanging them to dry. I learned that giant forrest slugs are very determined to eat baby cucumber plants, but that fortunatly these seeds grow fast. I’ve learned that the fish in our lakes here are smart, and you have to go on a boat to fish, rather than off shore. I swear they steal our bait and laugh at us when we try to fish from the bank, or they intentionally lodge our lures in sticks and rocks. I have also learned that I love picking, drying and using the lush herb garden that is growing really well! (We literally pick herbs twice a week right now.) We’ve been picking wild thimbleberries and waiting most impatiently for the blackberries to ripen so I can make jam and pies. I have learned that I can put zucchini in almost everything, and the kids are none the wiser!

While on a walk through the fields of brush we have found not only where elk and deer rest, but also where a pack of coyotes have been gathering. We’re teaching our kids how to read tracks and poo, to know what animal has been by and how recently. We followed elk through the brush, but they were much faster than we were and we only heard them and their crashing through the brush (which made a nice trail for us!) We’ve learned that our dog, Leeloo, will not pass the coyotes territory boundries, and that she knows her way home without us.

We’ve also learned that AT&T runs all phone and internet access, and that our phone company simply contracts through their towers. We lost internet and phones for nearly 18 hours, the whole town of Cougar. No credit card machines at the market, no phones, nothing. It was total isolation, because there is nothing else out here until you drive the 26 miles to Woodland. And, of course, AT&T are the only cell phones that work out here, no one else gets coverage. Good thing we all had other things to do, and no emergencies or anything took place. We are well prepared for emergencies, so I’m not worried.

On another note, I have been working hard on a new line for Rock the Runways 7, which takes place next week. (It is a fantastic event supporting a wonderful charity! Check it out at the link below!) I’ve learned so many new stitches in my trial and error phases of pattern-writing, some of which I love, and look awesome, wheter or not I used them, and some which I hate, simply because they didn’t work AT ALL with the tiny tiny yarn I am using for dresses and light tops. It’s hard to work when there is so much outdoors to explore! I find myself up late at night, stitching away while listening to the coyotes hunt and yip at each other.

 

Links!!!

http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-laundry-detergent-soap/  Laundry soap! I used my own homemade castille soap, but I have seen the soap brands they list at the store.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-brownies/  Zucchini brownies, yum! I left out the nuts, and added peanut butter to the frosting, and of course subbed vanilla soymilk for the milk!

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucchini_fritters/  I made these zucchini fritters to go with the Tzatziki that I made…oh heaven!!!!

http://greek.food.com/recipe/tzatziki-59336 Tzatziki to die for! I subbed plain greek yogurt for the sour cream, and added a dash of lime juice. I eat this stuff on everything!

Rock the Runways 7! http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/250530

 



So having spent three weeks in the country, we have been working hard on de-citifying ourselves. So far, we have come to realize that when we do make trips into town, we are irritable and impatient. People drive like loonies, there are too many people in general, and Walmart is hell on earth. I used to enjoy wandering about the stores, just looking at things; but now I have a list and I can’t wait to get out. If I forgot something…well… I’ll substitute something else until Matt goes to work or we have another trip to make.

On a happier note, three garden beds are installed and growing happily, and the deer fensing is put up. One more bed to dig and (unless I get a wild hare and alot more seeds/plants) we should be done. We planted tomatoes, potatoes, an herb garden, kale, peas, cucumbers, beans, zucchini, crookneck squash, pumpkins and peppers. Oh, and Charlie, the sad plum tree. Maia has dug and planted a wild-flower fairy garden, and is going to make a birdbath and some fairy houses to go along. I’ve been snipping herbs almost daily to add to our dinner, I can’t wait to start drying them!

We’ve been busy exploring, and have found a few good places for fishing once we get all of our gear. In two of the places, you can just watch the fish swim by, close enough to know they are black fin and not bull trout (bull trout are endangered.) We can’t wait to have a freezer full of fish, and a few on the grill for supper! Once we have them, I will share my fav. fish recipes!

I’ve been busy working with Max, helping to deal with his troubles and boredom (not a good combination!) He’s been recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, so tempers flair often, and frustration is common. One thing that he really likes doing, is the Mr. Freeze attack. He chooses a few action figures, and I freeze them in various sized containers full of water. Once frozen, he can either melt the ice with his laser beam (water gun) or he can chisel them free with a high-tech mining device (screwdriver.) The only downside to this is waiting for them to freeze. He is happiest when we are at the water and he can swim or play in the sand. He loves sand, but isn’t a fan of dirt. He has to wash instantly when he’s dirty, which is funny because he hates to bathe. Dirt is one of his “sensory” issues, as his Dr. calls it. Soap is another one we have discovered. He will not use bar soap. Absolutely, will not. Another trick that as been really successful, is a visual chart. Having images in place, rather than using words, has been a big help. We put up a daily schedule, and place in image in each time slot so he knows what is going to happen throughout the day. He has choices for free time and chore time that he gets to place on the board. This has been helpful in allowing me to set “mom’s work time” and actually get to sit down and work!

Here is my favorite cheaters recipe this week: Carrot-zucchini cookies, yum!

1 box carrot cake mix

2 eggs

1/2 c oil (or applesauce)

1 c grated zucchini

1/2 c cocoa powder (optional)

mix it all up, drop by spoonfuls onto cookie pan, and bake @350 for 9 min.

Super good, and super sneaky veggie trick!



We have recently given up city life; in order to preserve our sanity, our kids, and to work on our goal of becoming more self-sufficient. We have an acre of land in the foresty area of SW Washington, near Mt. St Helens. So far, it’s nothing short of amazing. We have deer and elk that walk through our yard, we have to watch our weenie dog because of the hawks and eagles, we have huge lakes within walking distance of our door.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are excited about it, and are looking forward to it. The first project, probably the biggest for some time, is the garden. We have a large area behind the pumphouse (yep, we have well water) that is going to be the garden. So far, the herb garden, two squash plants, corn, beans and a plum tree are planted. We have three to four more beds planned, veggies, tomatoes, pumpkins and winter squash (yes, we are buying started plants, we got here to late to start from seed.) We are also going to put in a small greenhouse and possibly some apple trees. Then we have to fence it all off, because the deer, elk and rabbits we so enjoy looking at, will happily munch away at our hard work. In the long run, we want to add chickens and a few goats, but one thing at a time ( I have to keep telling myself this, because I want to jump headfirst into it all.)

In addition to the gardening, what we can’t grow we will pick up at the farmers market. This years’ canning is going to be so much more than my usual applesauce and pears! I’m planning tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pickles, cherries, pickled green beans, peaches, plums, and whatever else I can get my hands on! We are determined to be less toxic, more healthy, and more active. Not only for ourselves, but for the kids. We have been outside more and more every day.  We’ve explored many of the parks around the three lakes here, (Yale, Merwin and Merril) and our next adventures will be where the best spot to fish, taking our little raft out, and heading up the many trails around Mt St Helens.

I’ll be sharing tips and tricks I learn as I go along, as well as recipes and knitting and crochet patterns! I have a lot of new designs in the work for fall, so stay tuned or follow me on Facebook!

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{June 14, 2012}   Been a while!

I haven’t posted in quite a bit. I have a lot going on right now, being summer time I have a market booth to run, a fall line to design and test, kids almost out of school (eegads) and to top it off we are moving! We have found damn near the house of our dreams for rent; 2 acres, middle of nowhere, lakes, hiking and biking nearby, and less than an hour commute to town. Closer and closer to my dreams of homesteading….. So now I have planning a garden and planning how to keep the neighboring deer and elk out of it, to add to my list.

Once we are all moved in and settled, I am going to start blogging regularly, so keep an eye out! I am going to post about our mini-homestead, gardening, canning, recipes, tips and tricks etc. I’m also going to post more DIY projects, I have a wealth of knowledge I feel the need to share! So watch for crochet, knitting, machine knitting, and other fun crafty projects 🙂 I have a runway show coming up, and new lines for fall and winter which I will preview both here and on Facebook. I hope you will all follow along, and please feel free to comment or drop me a post if you are interested in being a guest blogger or have aproject you would like to share!!



et cetera