20 April 2012

{this moment}

Joining Soulemama's {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

16 April 2012

Children's Art to T-Shirt

Early April was Papa Juise's Birthday, and we ignored the pressing matters of Spring for awhile to make him some gifts with our hands and our hearts. One of those was a T-shirt, made with Kaia's art, and I have to admit, I am kind of jealous. We yet again used the freezer paper method of printing, and I fell in love with it all over again! Aside from the onesies that I made for Kaia as a babe, we did some freezer paper printing together last year, which I think I failed to post anything about. Oops? Anyway, it is easy, and fun, and very rewarding, here is how we did ours.

I taped freezer paper to the table for Kaia to draw on, shiny side down, so that the papery side is the drawing surface. I drew boxes on each of them as guidelines for Kaia to stay within so that I would be left with a border on the pictures. I explained to her that I would need to have some paper all the way around her drawings in order to put them on Papa's shirt, and asked her to try to keep her drawings inside those boxes. Then I handed her a Sharpie. Okay, fine, you do not need to give your child a Sharpie if you do not want to, but the thick, bold lines were nice when it came time to cut them out, and the shiny side of the freezer paper doesn't let it bleed through. At least, ours didn't. I don't want to be responsible for your fancy dining table or anything.

When she was done drawing, I started the iron warming, pulled some paperboard out of the recycling, and got to work with my exact-o blade. I'm sure you could probably pull it off with scissors, but I wouldn't want to try. This is a job for the razor. Next you want to cut all the positive space out of the drawings, leaving the negative space intact. That is to say, you want to cut all drawn lines out of the background, and it is okay if you dice those lines up, but the background itself is what you are going to use as your stencil, so don't cut into it. If that seems confusing, hopefully the next few pictures help clear it up. I cut first around the outside borders of her pictures, and used those to decide where to place the images on the shirt.

In the picture on the left you can see that the empty space forms the lines of the drawing, and in the picture on the right you can see the parts which are being removed. I still have the top half of the face to cut out and iron to the shirt in this picture, but the rest is chaff. I did not bother trying to cut out eyes, little noses, or belly buttons, because those are much easier to dot on later than to cut out of the stencil.

I ironed the pieces in place as I cut them out, mostly because some of the pictures needed to be cut into a handful of pieces and I didn't want to lose track of where they all went. The simplest one was done in two pieces, and I think the most any of these had to be cut into was seven.

Iron the freezer paper shiny side down for about 15 seconds. It will stick to the surface of your cloth. Make sure the edges are all adhered, and then you are ready to paint. Place another piece of freezer paper, cardboard, or something of the like, inside your shirt to keep the paint from bleeding through the back layer. I used screen printing ink, but I have in the past used acrylics. I found that mixing the acrylic with a little water made the end product much softer, and helped it last longer. Either way, though, eventually acrylic will begin to crack, especially over large areas.

Dab the paint in. You want to get the lines filled in, but you don't want to leave globs of paint on the shirt, or have thick layers. Use just enough to give a solid coat, then lift any excess paint back off with your brush. Be careful not to paint over the borders of your stencils, or any areas you wish to be a different colour.

Wait for the paint to dry completely. No, seriously. Be patient. Waiting for the next day would be best. I have messed prints up before because I decided the paint was "dry enough", it's not worth it. Once the paint has set, peel off the freezer paper. It comes up very easily. For eyes, noses, and bellybuttons, I trimmed the swab part off a cotton swab and used the stem to dot paint on in the appropriate places. I found it useful to have taken pictures of the drawings beforehand that I could reference in getting the details in the correct positions. For smaller needs, I used a toothpick.

I think it came out super cute, and Papa Juise loved it! Kaia pretty much wants him to wear it every day and doesn't quite understand why he won't. She's ready to make another, and I don't think it will be long.

13 April 2012


Hello all, dropping by to say hi, and that, yes, we do still exist. It has been a very busy season for us, I have a few projects that I would like to get up very soon as things should be slowing down a bit around here. Here is an update on our lives for those that may be curious.

 We have been doing a lot of work preparing beds, starting seeds, cleaning the chicken coop, and "clean up" through the woods on our property as well. My have we got a huge burn pile!

The kids are very happy to be getting their hands back into the soil, as am I. It feels good to be turning the earth, and nestling our little seeds in. They are planted with such love and tenderness, and carry with them so many hopes.

The children got to dye Easter eggs for the first time this year, which was very exciting for them. (For those that do not know, we have been vegan, and still adhere to a vegan diet with the exception now of eggs from our own backyard flock of free-ranging, organic-fed chickies.) I was not sure how well our brown and cream eggs would take the colour, but they came out beautiful. It was fun to see the different colours the eggs came out when they were put into the same dye bath, but started as different shades of brown. I hope next year to use natural dyes, but, oh! Things have just been so busy, I actually picked up your standard nasty store bought dyes. Chalk one up against me. The next morning, while admiring our colourful eggs, Kaia told me, "You know, Mom, we didn't dye our eggs." I replied that, gosh, I thought we had, to which she responded, "No, my chickens lay rainbow eggs." Ha!

We are putting in one nice, big plot for our veggies this year. Up until now, we have been growing them in many small beds all around the house. I am very excited to be getting them all in one, big, easily rotatable, more protectable bed! Winning that bed from the dune grass, though... not as exciting. This is where it is going, in this picture I have started laying down sheets of old cardboard and plywood to smother the dune grass, I will post another picture when I get all the layers down. We are trying a "lasagna" style garden, so it will have many layers, which it is going to need since this is all sand under the dune grass.

I put down a layer of our "hot" compost first, and that is going to have a layer of mulch over it. Then some greens, then straw, then our not-so-hot compost, and finally, topsoil. The long strip of cardboard pictured was once Kaia's boat, I think this is a good final resting place for it.

I have also been busy with six new chicks. First I built a "tractor" for them, (which is basically a chicken coop and run that you can move around.) I didn't get quite finished painting it before it was time to pick up the chicks, but they have not complained yet. I also had to put up a quarantine fence to keep them separate from our older chickens, and that was a lot more work than I thought it would be!

Here they are in the box we brought them home in. They are all very sweet, and quite cute, and they all became ill. Not so "yay". I am very glad that we did quarantine them, so the risk to our older birds is as minimal as we can make it. Now I just have to jab a swab down a few of their throats and overnight it to the lab to find out what ails them, which I am so totally looking forward to. Fingers crossed that it is an innocent infection and inconsequential. (Oh, pleaaassee!)

Here is Katalin holding one of the little Leghorns when we picked them up, the girls are both overjoyed with them. The two Leghorns were all Kaia's idea, she sees white eggs everywhere, but the only eggs she has ever had are ours, so she thinks white eggs are really rare and special, hehe. So these two will add some white eggs to our baskets. The two brown stripey chicks are Araucanas, and will lay blue, green, or pink eggs, as will the little black Easter Egger. The speckled black one is a mutt of some sort, and we will just have to wait and see what she becomes. Unless, of course, they are hes. It is fun to wait and wonder! Our big (chicken) girls have also been enjoying the warmer weather, and the grass, and other greens and availability of bugs to scratch up.

We have managed to nab some free time amidst all the work and bustle, and have been enjoying hikes, picnics, and generalized exploration of the world, as well. We've even done a handful of crafts, I swear. I just haven't yet had the time to share them, which I will be trying to get to this week.

Thank you for stopping by, my next post will be more along the normal lines of crafting with children, in the meantime, be well!