Getting Crafty – Built-in Purse Keychain

The key holder on our messenger bag inspired this project!

I dispensed with a major pet peeve of mine–digging through my purse to find my keys–today with a simple craft project using only items I had laying around the house!

My beloved Timbuk2 messenger bag has a nifty little clip on the end of a ribbon, so I can attach my keys and never lose them in the otherwise cavernous bag. So why not my other purses?

Now each of my purses is outfitted with a clip made to hold my keys. It was quick and easy, even for a novice with needle and thread like myself.


  • 1 keychain with a swivel hook and several detachable key rings or several individual swivel-hooks as pictured
  • several 4-8″ pieces of remnant ribbon, preferably in colors that coordinate with your handbags
  • heavy-duty thread that matches the thread
  • sewing needle

Here’s how I did it…
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Easter Crafts (or the day I kicked Martha Stewart’s ass!)

Our Easter craftiness involved a lot more than dying eggs this year!

Maybe it’s because we’ve had so many sleety Easters in Colorado over the years, or maybe it was divine inspiration, but I decided yesterday that we were going to embark on a multi-day Easter-related crafty project. When we woke up today to a gray, rainy morning, instead of being disappointed, we had plenty of Easter crafts to keep us occupied.

First up on our list was planting rye grass for Easter, a Finnish tradition the kids wanted to try. But that was such a quickie that I had to come up with a few more things. We’d already boiled eggs, but I had another half dozen that hadn’t fit in the pan, so I decided to make blown eggs. This is something the kids did every year at their preschool back in the US, so they were anxious to try again.

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Decluttering Your Child’s Artwork

Some paintings created by my son Gabriel
I particularly like the colors in these two paintings by my son, Gabriel
I talked a bit in my post, Letting Go, about our recent attempts at getting rid of things that we don’t love, need, use. What if you love something, but it exists in such tremendous quantities that something has to be done about it? Christmas ornaments come to mind, but I’ll save that for a different post because what I want to talk about is my children’s artwork.

Let’s say we don’t put a crayon into our child’s hand until they are a year old (it was earlier than that for us!). That means that, when I began my decluttering adventure, I found roughly 8 years’ worth of artwork (combined total for two children) in a giant stack in my basement. We do craft projects nearly every day, and they spent part of every day of their preschool lives doing craft as well, so you can see how quickly that can multiply. Each piece is unique, captures their developmental milestones in visual format, and, especially now that my son writes “To Mommy” on almost every piece, is very difficult to let go.

And yet, I could not justify taking a three-foot stack of kids’ artwork to Helsinki with us. What to do, what to do? I turned to the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra for help with this tricky situation! Read more

Learning to Knit

picture of knitted hat & scarf
My first knitting project - A hat & scarf for my daughter
This past fall, I started knitting. Oh sure, I knitted a scarf or a pot holder or something when I was 12, but this was the first time I’d given it a go as an adult. Armed with a copy of Patons Next Steps, a pair of size 10 bamboo needles, and a couple of skeins of wool, I jumped right in on scarves, hats & mittens for my children. I’m lucky to have several friends (both here in town and far away) who knit, and their guidance was invaluable while I was learning, but at a certain point, you can’t have a knitting lesson with 800 children running around and have to find another resource.

Well, I’m here to tell you about some of my favorites. If you’ve always wanted to knit (did I mention that it’s very meditative???), these resources can help! I’ve now been knitting for six months or so and have graduated from scarves and hats to more complicated projects with the help of the following resources. I still consider myself a beginner, but I’m a beginner who is ready to tackle a few new stitches and techniques. Read more

March Phat Fiber “Fluff” – The Elements

A photo of March's Phat Fiber Fluff box
My first ever Phat Fiber box!

My father used to tell this great story about sawing off the treadle of my grandmother’s spinning wheel as retribution for her not letting he and my uncle go out to hunt. In the end, they climbed out the window and went anyway, and I can only imagine my grandfather’s reaction when he learned what the boys had done. Personally, if it were my wheel, I think Dad would have had to worry more about my wrath than Grampy’s, but who knows.

Those of you who have been coming here to read all about gardening are probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about. I admit it: I’m taking a break from gardening posts to talk about another (relatively new) hobby of mine–spinning. Read more

A Few Holiday Crafts for Cold Weather Fun

PICT5508We had a solid week of single-digit temperatures, leaving me with two kids wilder than the Mad Hatter and a desperate need for fun indoor craft activities. Here are few things we did that were cheap, easy, and used mainly things we already had around the house:

Making them each their own miniature Christmas tree out of a Rosemary plant occupied a whole evening by the time we made popcorn, ate most of it, strung some on thread with dried cranberries using dull tapestry needles, and topped the lot with a star taped to a wooden chopstick and stuck in the dirt behind the tree. Don’t ask me why the kids opted for the Star of David instead of a traditional star. Matt drew out a five-pointed star and Gabriel said no, he wanted a six-pointer. Lily had to have the same, of course. Read more

Breaking My Addiction to Holiday “Stuff”

Durango sleeping in a pile of holiday wrapping paper
Durango sleeping in a pile of holiday wrapping paper

Hi, my name is Julie, and I’m a holiday addict. You know, the kind who can’t resist adorable Christmas ornaments, or holiday cards on clearance sale. The kind who has a ten-year supply of wire ribbon for wrapping presents and who starts listening to Christmas songs the day after Halloween. Yeah, one of those.

I think each of us forms our impression of what the holidays should be about during childhood. For us, there was a fairly elaborate procession of golf trophies and framed pictures being boxed and moved downstairs, and then a reverse procession of worn and familiar boxes of Christmas ornaments moving upstairs. We listened to Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing carols while we unwrapped decorations. It usually took most of the day, and I loved every minute of it, Read more

Dying with Kool-Aid!

I recently ordered some undyed play silks (basically 3×3′ pieces of silk that can be used for costumes, capes, whatever, that are much cheaper than pre-dyed silks) for Gabriel. Someone suggested dying with Kool-Aid, so¬†Gabriel & I dyed his silks this afternoon–it was one of my favorite craft activities yet!

We used the very simple microwave instructions that I found on this web site: I used Grape, Lemon-Lime, Strawberry, & Orange Kool-Aid (1 packet of Kool-Aid per silk) and then did a beautiful yellow one with 1 t saffron using the same process described on the Kool-Aid dye site.

I also let Gabriel paint dye (including a home-made blueberry dye with 2T blueberries, 2 T boiling water & 1 T vinegar) on one silk, then processed it as described in the microwave to make this funky tie-dye colored one. He painted his silk (in his diaper because it’s very messy!) while I dyed the other ones and he had a blast! He had to go straight in the bath, of course, and my fingers are pretty stained (they recommend gloves and I didn’t use them…Oops!).

The silks are gorgeous and even though the color is not 100% even across the entire silk, they still look great for the $2 it cost me to dye them. I’d really like to try some felted-wool projects and may try dying the wool myself now that I know how easy this was. Gabriel is so excited about his silks (he was already playing with them before we even dyed them!) and wanted to play with them while they were still wet. I hope they dry before he gets up from his nap. I also let Gabriel use up the rest of the blueberry dye painting on some water color paper and I have to say that I wish I’d done a whole silk with blueberry.

It’s such a gorgeous color on paper and the little bit that made it on to his silk is also a very pretty color. I was going to try a pomegranate dye, but tried bottled juice and it just looked too dull. Some other things I would consider are raspberries, cherries, and turmeric (which may be more cost-effective then saffron). What a fun afternoon project. It’s so exciting that he’s finally old enough to do these types of things with me. I’ll have to post some pictures of our silks in action once they’ve dried…