Sunday, August 21, 2011

The End of a Season

School officially starts again for Sarah and Caleb tomorrow morning. Where has the summer gone? As a working mom, it has been a real trial to balance work with helping to create a magical time with the kids. We had the BIG "planned" trip but the kids seemed to have just as much fun with a spur of the moment trip to the lake, fish hatchery, or Collin's Creek... all just minutes away. It has been fun to watch the kids grow and learn this summer. We have ended our summer with memories of our first views of the Rocky Mountains at sunrise, feeding Stumpy the mallard off the back of the boat, Caleb finding the courage to jump off of the top of a houseboat, Sarah learning to ride a dirt bike, and so much more.

One thing I have just started doing this summer is carrying my camera EVERYWHERE. For the past couple of months, it has been as important as my phone or wallet. I could have kicked myself when I forgot it yesterday. Sarah had been feeding a red ear water turtle off the back of the boat and then actually picked it up out of the water. The thing was not small and I would have loved to get that on camera as it fondly reminded me of myself at that age. I can not encourage everyone enough to keep the camera handy at all times. While it is sad to see the end of summer, I know fall will bring many more wonderful memories.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Awesomeness in Arkansas

We are finally enjoying some cooler temperatures after what has seemed like endless weeks of extreme heat. Not just heat.... heat plus super high humidity. Give me a dessert out west any day compared to this weather. Everything green has pretty much died outside and swimming in the lake feels more like taking a warm bath. As we headed home from work today, we ran into some serious rain. The kind of rain where you are driving and really can't see anything. To my shock, we got several inches of rain within probably an hour. As soon as the rain and lightning show ended, I sent the kids out to play and let the chickens out to free range. I was so happy I had the camera home today because what came after the storm was sheer awesomeness. First we had a rainbow in a dark sky in the backyard. Then a few minutes later the show moved to the front yard with these mammatus clouds. God's handiwork is truly awesome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Throw Your Sweater Shaver Away...

Or run over it with the car or bury it. I hate those obnoxiously loud things that can't suck up a lint ball or hair if its life depended on it. Believe me... I have threatened them and it doesn't work. Working with wool every single day I tried many things. Each Woollybottom that we ship out must look like new wool when it leaves here free of lint, fuzz, and those matted pill balls. We have received some pretty nasty wool. When we get a shipment of sweaters, we have no idea what kind of life it had previously. Everything goes into a hot wash to remove any impurities and to gently felt the wool (felting helps a diaper cover be more effective). While this cleans the wool it doesn't take off the pill balls and fuzz. In a time of desperation and sore fingers, I picked up a pumice stone in the beauty department of a local store and took it back to the shop. I found that it worked better than I could have imagined. Just lay the wool flat and "brush" it with the stone and everything collects in a ball at the bottom of the wool. The stone is gentle and even putting a lot of pressure on the wool, there has never been any damage to the wool. I have this piece of gnarly lambswool and did half of it as you can see here. It took about a minute to completely clean the left side of the wool and it looked brand new! If your woolies are looking kind of shabby (as they will from normal use) brush them with a pumice stone, gather up the fuzz and you will have a brand new looking pair of woolies again. If you have black wool, you can take a piece of packing tape and press it on the wool to remove any lint. Hopefully these tips will make life a bit easier on caring for your wool. And if you are wondering how long that pumice stone will last, well we haven't been able to wear one out yet. We have used a single stone literally on several thousand pieces of wool. If you buy a new stone, you may want to pre-rinse it in water to remove any dust or loose particles. You may see some small particles come off with the first time you clean your wool. If that happens, just shake the wool out and with further use, the stone will not do that after the initial use.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recycled T-Shirt Market Bags Results

So, I had hoped to finish these bags last week and it didn't happen until today actually. They were so time consuming and all ;) Seriously it took me less than 10 minutes to finish 4 of them. I found that the small t-shirts work the best and are actually more close to the size bag I wanted. I wasn't really thinking when I bought a couple of XL shirts and started cutting them and realized these bags were going to be BIG. Not really what I will reach for to use with groceries but I realized these will be great for hauling towels and blankets back and forth to the boat this summer. I usually load everyone's arms up with towels and blankets to try to make one trip from the car to the boat and then I hold my breath that nothing ends up into the water on the walk across the dock. These big bags will really help and we can carry back the dirty laundry easily.

So, do you want to know why I was a slacker last week and didn't finish the bags? Well, we moved.... again. Many of you that have been around since we started back in 2004 have followed my nomadic trek through the years. We started off here at the house in the kitchen and had the infamous wall of wool that actually insulated the east side of the house. Then we bought a small cabin and put it in the back yard (you can scroll down to some older posts to see that). Then my husband and I bought a building in town and shared it. It is divided into 3 spaces and I moved into one and he moved into another. We had someone come by that wanted to rent the space I was in so I packed up and scooted to another office. Not really easy with tons of wool and machines and things. This past week our tenant moved out and I really wanted that space again so we moved again. Here is where we are now. I thought I better take some pictures while it is fairly clean and I have had several people ask what my setup looks like. I am not done with it yet obviously. I am going to add some things to the walls and the kiddo section is kind of temporary. I want to put in a table and chairs so they can have a fun space to craft, do homework, or play. The long table is the packing/shipping area and the big L-shaped area is where all the constructing goes down. You can sort of see through the doorway to the room with the green walls... that is my husband's office. I often help him through the day so I can easily move from one space to the other and keep my space closed off with the door. The kids can also easily visit with both of us at any time. You can also see the doorway to a room with beige walls... that is where the cutting, wool washing, and storage happens. I am so NOT taking you in there with me right now. I have just kind of thrown everything in there until I can go through and organize and it is scary.... really scary. The space back there is about the same size as the sewing/packing/kiddo area so it is really going to be a great space with all my materials close at hand.

Have you all been making your t-shirt bags? If you haven't, get to it! This is a great summer day project to do with the kids as well.