Monday, January 30, 2012

And the winner is...

Emily R.

Congrats, Emily! You just won a $10 store credit to Crafty Crow Couture. I hope you enjoy our products.

For those of you who didn't win, check back in the next couple of weeks. There should be two more giveaways coming up, including one on Facebook.

Otherwise, I hope you'll stop by my shop for something for yourself and please recommend us to your friends.

Thanks for your participation!

Mom Monday- Luckiest mom ever!

How lucky am I?

So lucky, my three year old likes to help me clean and yes she is vacuuming up crumbs from dinner. ;)


Giveaway extended

Hi all,

I'm extending the giveaway one more day to let my fellow Kindermusik mommies register.

Look for a winner tomorrow morning!

Best to you all!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Nichole tagged me last week, and I am just now getting around to it.  My apologies, we've been a bit busy.  But here you go, a little bit more about me.

the rules:
1. you must post the rules.
2. post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
4. tag eleven people and link them on your post
5. let them know you've tagged them!

my {fun} facts 
1. I'm happily married, and we have two little girls ages 3yrs and 10 months.  If you've read this blog you probably already know this...but it's the main fun fact about me.

2. I secretly want to be a farmer.  This year my goal is to raise chickens and expand our garden even further.  I'm reading up on organic gardening practices and canning.  Hoping for a bumper crop!

3. I don't make my students call me Dr, but I'll admit it makes me feel nice when they do.  I did work for a long time for my degree and it's a small perk.

4. I've recently become a whole foods advocate.  We're on the earliest parts of our whole food journey, but I'm hoping we'll be further along by the end of the year and healthier for it.  Our next step is to eliminate as much processed sugar as possible.  Look for a blog post about it!

5. I love babies, but I'm not the best with babies.  I deal much better with kids that can tell me what they need...of course, that's a double edged sword since now I answer questions, all day long.

6. I'm a coffee snob.  I don't drink a lot of it, maybe at most a cup a day (there are lots of days I don't drink any), but if I"m going to indulge in a cup I want the good stuff.  No freeze dried stale coffee for me.  I roast our own coffee beans, and we brew using either a drip cup or french press.  I want a quality cup, not speed or convenience.  Besides freshly roasted coffee is a totally different flavor and so much cheaper!!

7. I wish I could knit.  It's been years since I've tried and I'd love to be able to do it again.  Knitting has a little more versatility than crocheting, and I would love to make the girls clothes!

8. I'm a cat person.  Not that I don't like dogs, in fact, I love dogs...I just happen to like cats more.  I think it's because they are so self sufficient.

9. I sing in the choir, but I'm not a good singer. But I figure the Lord calls us to make a joyful noise, so even if my noise is well,'s at least joyful.

10. My husband and I collect vinyl records.  It's a better quality sound than digital and I love the feel of an old record.  We buy most of our new music on vinyl and it comes with digital downloads for our Ipods.  Great deal if you ask me!

11. I'm a liberal Christian.  Before you start scratching your head, you did read that right.  Liberal and Christian can go together, in fact I'd say a lot of us have liberal leanings even if we don't think we do.  But that's a whole other post.  So why liberal?  Well, I have no issue with women leading church services.  I believe that the particular passages so many believe about women in leadership roles in church are interpreted incorrectly.  In fact, my church has a woman Reverend.  I also believe in egalitarian roles in marriage.  Mark and I have one head of our relationship- Jesus.  Plain and simple.  I guess there are other reasons too, but I think that is sufficiently interesting, maybe even a little controversial. ;)

 the questions
1. What is your favorite sound?
      -I guess I would say, baby babble.  It's so cute especially when they first start.  Evie and I started having "conversations" and now she is saying more words than ever.  I'll miss the babble.

2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
      -This is hard.  I hope that we'll have a couple of more kids (what can I say, I like kids) and be done with pregnancy (I'm not the best pregnant lady).  I also hope that we will still be here in East TN, and either have this house fixed up or move to a new one...but I require land.  See my second fun fact. :)  I think I might like to go back to school, I know scary, so I could possibly become a Physician's Assistant.  A strange thing for a PhD who was in research to want to do, but I'm not sure I want to teach forever and I like medicine. Or if my ideas for home businesses takes off, maybe I'll be doing that.  Finally, I hope we are still active in our current church.  I love our church and being more active has been a lot of fun!

3. If you could have 6 hours without kids, what would you do?
      -What wouldn't I do?  Watch a movie, eat out with my husband, take a nap, read a book, crochet, sew...the list would go on.

4. Where is your favorite place?
      -Easy, my Granny's house in Southwest Virginia.  No one lives there now, so it is sad to go back.  But hands down if I could go back in time, I'd go there when she was alive.  Great memories.

5. What is your best memory?
      -When my babies were born.  Every mother knows and cannot adequately explain that moment when you meet your baby.  It's a mixed bag of emotions, but one emotion is particularly strong- Love.  For me, knowing that they were safe and here was the best moment of my life.

6. Are you right or left handed?

7. What is your favorite outfit?
      -Not sure, I guess I would say jeans with a comfortable tshirt, I like fitted ones.  I'm not a fancy person at all.  I love the threadless shirts in particular.  So clever and cute. 

8. Where did you meet your significant other?
      -At a college party.  It was at his house actually.  His roommate and I were both psychology majors that had a few classes together.  He asked me and my friends over for a party and Mark was there just home from work.  We hit it off, talking about our vinyl collections.  From there it just blossomed.

9. Why do you blog?
     -Originally to record our family adventures for the rest of our family.  It's gone from that to meeting people, and I'll admit trying to promote my Etsy store.

10. What is your favorite color?
       -This is hard.  I guess green, though purple or pink would be a close second.  When I was little it was yellow, because who can be sad around yellow or in a yellow room.  Guess what color my room was?

11. What do you think is your best feature and why?
     -My hair color.  I'm not crazy about my curly hair.  I wish I could brush it and do everything straight haired people do.  But I do like my color, I've never dyed it.  Not even once. 

Ok, so I'm going to punk out on the rest.  Mainly because I don't know hardly anyone in the bloggy world to tag and the ones I do know have already been tagged.  So I hope you enjoyed my answers and facts.  Best to you all!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Hey all!

I've extended the giveaway to give people a chance to sign up.  So please don't forget to leave me a comment on this post and like Crafty Crow Couture on facebook.

You could win a $10 credit to the store and remember we are completely customizable to your preferences.

Hope you'll join me in celebrating the opening of my store!

Giveaway ends- 1/29/12, announcement on Monday.

Worthwhile Wednesday- Laundry Soap

For almost a year, we've been using homemade laundry soap. 

It all started with looking for a laundry soap for cloth diapers that we didn't have to order special.  Detergents can build up in cloth diapers and then you are left with funny smelling diapers...and nobody wants bad smelling diapers.

After a lot of looking around and searching for a recipe that we could make with items from our area we finally settled on this one:

Homemade Laundry Detergent for Cloth Diapers:

2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
2 cups of Oxygen cleaning powder, we use Sun brand from Walmart (a lot easier to find and cheaper than Oxyclean)

Mix well. Use 1 Tablespoon for small loads & 2 Tablespoons for large loads.
Store in air tight container.

This is low suds version that is perfect for HE models.

**Please note that this is not my original recipe, but one I found on multiple sites on the internet and after trying fully recommend**

After washing our diapers with homemade detergent, we started to wonder why on earth weren't we making a regular detergent for our clothes?!?

So more searching and we found a powdered version we like a lot:

Homemade Laundrey Detergent

1 bar finely grated Fels-Naptha Soap (found at Walmart)
1 cup of Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup of Sun Powder

I had more than one rasp for fine grating, so I just donated one to soap and it works great.  Also if you are a bit clumsy, wear tough gloves why you grate so you don't nick your fingers.  If you like your clothes to have a distinct smell just add a drop or two of essential oil when you start your load.

This is low suds version that is perfect for HE models. 

**Please note that this is not my original recipe, but one I found on multiple sites on the internet and after trying fully recommend**

Finally, we were looking for a great stain remover, and stumbling onto another blog, we found this one:

Stain Pretreater

½ c. vinegar
½ c. ammonia
½ c. homemade liquid detergent or regular detergent if you prefer
½ c. water

This works great!  Plus it is so easy to make and cheaper.  I just rinsed out an old cleaner bottle and refilled it with my pretreater.  Spray on stains and throw in the wash.  I was a little worried that it might spot my clothes, but so far it is fabulous.

Lastly, is homemade liquid detergent.  Now we haven't made or used this yet, but now that I'm making my own pretreater, we'll definitely being making it.  (I used a sample packet of detergent I had to make the first batch)  Here's a common recipe I was able to find and plan to use:

Liquid Laundry Soap

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Powder
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled.

Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-For Top Load Machine - use 5/8 Cup per load
-For Front Load Machines – use ¼ Cup per load

All of these recipes will save you lots of money and cut down on the amount of build up in your clothes! 

Two wonderful wins and very worthwhile.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crafty Crow Couture

Welcome back everyone!

In case you didn't guess, I finally took the plunge and have opened my own Etsy store.

I've got some cute models.
Why the sudden turn around?  I have an opportunity for some free advertising, so I pushed my time table up a little bit.

I'm really excited, and I hope you all like my shop.  In fact, here's a little bit more about my shop:

Crafty Crow Couture is completely customizable shop for the whole family. You choose your desired colors and materials, while we take care of the rest. Our goal is to create unique items that are tailored to your taste for a reasonable cost.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our products, ability to customize, or if there is a product you might like that we do not have listed. As a completely customizable shop, we can create almost any custom order for you.

So since today is the grand opening, it means GIVEAWAY time!  One lucky reader will be getting a $10 credit to the new shop.

My other cute model.
Here's how it is going to work.

1) First visit my shop and then in a comment let me know what you like the best. (REQUIRED)
2) Like my shop on facebook and leave me a comment on the wall and here to let me know. (1 Entry)
3) Share my shop page in your facebook feed and tag the shop in the link.  Let me know in a comment (1 Entry)
4) Share my shop on your blog and let me know about it (link in comment).  (2 Entries)

Deadline is 11pm, Monday 1/30/12.

I'll then draw a random winner and post the winner on Tuesday morning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mom Monday- Finding a Gem

Sometimes being a mom is frustrating, particularly being a mom with a camera and an obsession to get some good candid shots.

Like when you dress your girls up and they refuse to smile for a picture...

Or when after "flirting" with everyone at Starbucks they throw themselves down when you pull out your camera...

But every once in awhile, you catch a gem.

The two of them playing together.

The first time one they learn to roll a toy.

The moment you realize they inherited your curls.

Smiling, happy, and clean...

or just being silly!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Exciting News

Hi all!

Before you think I'm pregnant, I'm not.

Ha, ha. I know a couple of folks who just sighed a big sigh of relief. ;)

No, I have an opportunity to do something I've been talking about for months. So I'm taking it and working hard this weekend to get a bunch of things done.

Check back with me on Tuesday, I expect to have everything ready by then. If you haven't figured it out, I'll at least tempt you back by saying there will be a giveaway! Maybe even several...

Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Worthwhile Wednesday- Dishcloths

This Christmas, I got some great books on Tunisian crocheting, also called afghan crocheting. Big thanks to Fran!!!

It gives you the look of knit, but with crocheting. Perfect for me, an avid crocheter.

To try it out I used some cotton yarn I got on sale awhile back. (have you noticed I'm all about using what I already have on hand?)

I loved it!!

First I just did the simple stitch.

Then I combined it with the purl stitch for this great honeycomb pattern.

Finally I tried the knit stitch, awesome!!

Sorry for the shadow, I couldn't get it right. :(

I made all dishcloths and washcloths to get used to the technique. Very simple and a great practice, plus more dishcloths which we needed.

To boot, these are stylish dishcloths that took very little time to make and cost a fraction of what even walmart charges. Since I got my yarn on sale, all in all my dishcloths maybe cost at most .50 cents a piece, for a much better look.

Next up is a bag for my bible study materials. I've been using a reusable grocery bag, and it's time to move up.  I'm thinking I can make my bag for less than $3, using similar cotton yarn that I got at a fraction of the price.

Below is the pattern for the honeycomb cloth. If you need clarification on any of it, let me know.

Next up on my crocheting adventures: plarn. What's plarn? It's "yarn" made out of plastic grocery bags. The bad thing about plastic grocery bags is they aren't strong enough. Now, we use reusable bags to shop, but every once in awhile we get stuck with plastic bags and before we started using reusable bags we have a bunch leftover!

My goal is to use up my plastic bags, making stronger crocheted grocery bags. Plus if they get worn out or dirty, off to the recycling bin. A great way to reuse and then recycle later!  (Even better, it gives us more reusable bags to take to the store without purchasing any!)

Look for some plarn adventures in the near future and happy dishcloth making!!

Honeycomb pattern dishcloth-

Chain 25, using h sized Tunisian hook and cotton yarn of your choice. Organic natural peaches and cream brand is always a favorite of mine!

Complete a foundation row forward- insert hook in second chain from hook. Yo, pull up lp. *insert hook in next chain. Yo, pull up lp. Awarding another stitch to hook. Repeat from * across. You will have 25 lps on your hook.

Foundation row return- yo, pull through 1 lp. *yo, pull through 2 lps. Repeat from * until 1 lp remains on hook.

Row 1- sk first vertical bar. *tps in next vertical bar, tss in next vertical bar. Repeat from * across, ending with tss.

Row 1 return- same as foundation return.

Row 2- sk first vertical bar. *tss in next st, tps in next stitch. (hint you have staggered stitches when compared to previous row) when two stitches remain, tss into next to last st and final st.

Row 2 return- same as foundation row return.

Repeat until desired length.

Final row- slip stitch across in normal stitches, Fasten off at the end. This gives the cloth the same look at the start and end.

This post linked with Frugal Days, Substainable Ways Wednesday.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mom Monday- Trying to be thankful during the worst.

So I had to skip my blog post on Friday, we've been fighting a stomach virus for FOUR days.

Each one of has got it...




It makes for a long and interesting weekend, to say the least. We're all still "off our feed" too (but are getting there).

But in the midst of all this sickness, I've been grateful for a number of things:

1) A husband not afraid to clean up throw up. I don't do throw up well. Blood, guts, and other bodily fluids- no problem. Don't ask why, I can't figure it out myself...

The hubby and I when we got married, trying to remind him why he married me... ;)
 2) A little girl that after throwing up can turn around and play happily...that is once she is cleaned up.

Playing kisses with her sister.

3) Baby snuggles, that allowed us to get a nap after a VERY long night of no sleep.

4) A husband willing to watch the girls while I recovered and then took care of himself in the middle of the night when he got sick. I'm pretty sure that makes me the worse wife ever....sorry, Mark.

Remember we're not always awful, Mark, sometimes we're good too. ;)

All in all a lot to be thankful for, though I could have done without the illness for a reminder. ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Worthwhile Wednesday- Reusable Snack Bags

We use a LOT of sandwich bags. Snacks for the girls, extra pacies, baby spoons...

You name it, and we stick it in a plastic baggie.

The more I thought about it the more wasteful it seemed, not to mentioned expensive.

Now I've seen reusable snack bags before, but had never sat down and made one. But after I threw away another baggie covered in applesauce, I decided it was time!

First I trolled the Internet for good tutorials, but without Velcro and a waterproof fabric on hand I wasn't sure what to do. Then I found this tutorial.

Instead of PUL or nylon, she used heavy duty freezer bags. Perfect for lazy and cheap me, who didn't want to go shopping for extra supplies. Though that said, there is no reason you couldn't sub PUL or nylon for this instead, in fact I'd encourage you too. It's easier to wash. This is just my alternative for $0, using what I had on hand.

I found another construction method I liked better, just like the old sandwich bags that didn't have the zip tops that incorporated the fold over closure. I did this for a couple of reasons, 1) I didn't have any velcro and didn't want to get any, 2) I had heard that Velcro could catch food and get a little dirty, and 3) I wanted a quiet closure in case we were at a meeting or church when we needed to open it.

First I used a cotton fabric I already had from a previous $1 a yard sale. Yay for using up scraps!!

I also cut a regular ziplock freezer bag (I used this since I knew it would hold up- I wash mine to reuse and they work great). These were quart size.

I then cut my fabric to match.

I wanted a finished edged, so I rolled my edges and sewed. If you have access to a serger, I would just serge it instead.

Then I folded the "back" part of the bag to make the fold over. This was about two inches.

I then folded my other side (which will become your front) to match edges and pinned, so the right sides of fabric are together.

Next I sewed up both sides.  Then I trimmed off excess and flipped.

All done!
This picture has the back flap over the top, just like the old sandwich bags.

I made a bunch and in the end even made two for my sister and one for my friend Amie that are embroidered. Too cute, right?

In the end they were sandwich size, which is perfect for us. You could adjust the size if you wanted smaller or larger.

We tried them out the next day, and wonderful, just wipe it out when done or wash in sink. I'm guessing this will cut our sandwich baggie buying by at least half, which is a win for us.

Plus less trash and who doesn't love that!

This post is linked up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mom Monday- Christmas 2011

As promised here is a summary of our Christmas celebrations, prepare for picture overload.

Christmas eve started with lots of cooking for me, but I love to cook, so no chore there.

Before going on to my cousin's house we tried to get a quick picture of the girls.

They didn't exactly cooperate.

We eventually headed to my cousin's house for a quick visit. The girls had lots of fun!

Then we all headed to our Christmas Eve communion service. It's a come as you are, family by family ceremony. Your whole family comes to the kneeling rail to take communion and then the Reverend gives a special blessings for your family. No two blessings are the same.

It is very special and personal.

After the blessing one member of the family lights a candle on the altar representing that family. By the end if the night the church is ablaze in candlelight.

To me there is nothing as beautiful as being reminded not only of Christ's birth, but his sacrifice.

From there we headed to my parent's house for a quick tour of the neighborhood lights- they light bags as a reminder of the star guiding the wise men to Jesus- quickly followed by dinner, which was delicious!!

We then followed on of my favorite traditions, reading the story of Jesus' birth. When we were little my patents wanted us to listen and not focus on presents, so after reading we were asked a question from the story. If you got it right you could open one gift. If not, you had to answer a second question to open your gift, which became the default question- who was the baby?

Over the years, our competitive nature has had us as harder and harder questions of each other, so now we all have it memorized. :)

Elizabeth got her question right.

Evie was too focused on the pretty paper to noticed, but loved her gift too.

Elizabeth also decided she should help everyone open gifts.

After presents, we headed home where we did our next to last advent reading ,

And sat out cookies for Santa.

Did he come?

Ummm, maybe he went a little overboard with his deal shopping...though it was the least he's ever spent in a long time.
Elizabeth's presents.

Evie's gifts.

Mommy and Daddy got some gifts too.
Christmas morning we opened presents from under the tree and had brunch with my family.

So much fun!!!

From there, we packed up again to NC to visit with my dad's family and open more gifts.

Being Silly.

Evie unwrapping.

Evie with my Uncle and Aunt.
Finally, we came home for a blur of a week rest, which turned into crisis week. Mark was gone to Lexington and Elizabeth got sick. We weren't sure if we would make it to his family or not.

In the end, we made it where we opened more gifts.

Elizabeth opening gifts with her Ma.
And cooked a ton of party foods to throw Mark's dad a surprise party. It turned out great.

Mark's Dad opening a gift
We spent New years with some great friends, and headed home the next day.

So that was our whirlwind holidays, as much fun as we had, I'm glad we are home for awhile.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Advent season

So in the next two posts, I want to share a little bit about our holiday season.  The first post- Advent.

We started the month of December with a plenty to do.  I was wrapping up school, which for a teacher means a LOT of grading. Mainly because students wait to the last minute to turn everything in...which, ahem, I never did. ha ha.

But even with a lot to do that doesn't mean we didn't have fun. The first event- Rudolph! My parents had some extra tickets to the Barter Theatre, so off we went.  What fun!  Elizabeth loved the reindeer and even got to go see it again, with her cousins.  Big thanks to mommy and daddy for the tickets!!

Elizabeth with Rudolph herself.
 We also celebrated a few family birthdays, which is always fun!

We then took the girls to see Santa.  Elizabeth was a little shy, hence the half smile.  But Evie was having   none of it.  She never cried, but was SO serious.  She didn't smile until the end.  Elizabeth told Santa she wanted a doll and ponies...and maybe some spiderman stuff. (Yes, she watches spiderman- but the old version ('67 & '81).
Who is this strange man?

I like this man.

Thankfully, we had most of our Christmas presents already purchased and our decorations went up at Thanksgiving.  We've been shopping ahead throughout the year and storing up.  What a difference that makes!!  We spent half as much as we usually do (and the spending was spread out) and with some handmade items, made it really special.

Our now crawling baby enjoyed getting to the presents.

During this time we also directed the kids Christmas program at church.  Evie was a donkey and Elizabeth was the Star of Bethleham.  We had all the kids walk into the church to the choir singing "Mary did you know?".  The kids were great and I was so proud of them all.  Also since we were directing kids, we didn't get pictures.  But I have some people from church sending me some.  Once I get them, I'll be sharing them.

Once my grades were turned in we only had a week until Christmas, YIKES.  But we did a few crafts and lots of baking, especially for Santa.
Cookies for Santa.

Cookies for Daddy!

Throughout this month, Mark was gone one week, then back and then gone again.  Finally the week before Christmas, he was back again.
A picture we sent to Daddy, while he was gone.

In order to keep our minds on the true meaning of the season, Elizabeth and I did a Jesse Tree each day.  It was SO WORTH IT!!  If you've never done one, I totally recommend it.  I read the devotional and then pulled out the main points of the story.  We'd talk about them and then she would stick the symbol on the tree.  Two great things about it, 1) FREE ONLINE & 2)Elizabeth learned so much about the bible.  In fact, I learned so much too.  What a blessing!

This was day two, by the end the whole poster was covered.

Some of our Advent books.

As with each year, we did our advent devotionals at dinner and lit our advent wreath.  A great and beautiful tradition.
My broken candles.  I bought some new ones, but never took a picture.  Whoops!

After all the baking and crafts the week before Christmas, we were ready for the big day...which comes in the next post.  Exciting I know!
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