Nature Notebook

Nature Notebooks.  We have many.  Filled with inspiring photos, sketches, project ideas, observations, & dreams that we never want to forget.  
{secret talks}

{testing out new survivalist skills}

{running free through the grass with only a wool jacket}

If you'd like to share how the natural world has inspired your life this week, please leave the name of your blog and your link in the box below for others to find and enjoy!  Thank you so much and I can't wait to see what you come up with~

Please feel free to add my Nature Notebook button to your blog, so that others may find it and share their inspiration! Just save the button to your desktop. Then add it to your blog as a photo gadget and link it to

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Spring Seeds

With a good six inches of snow on the ground, it doesn't look much like Spring, but the returning of the robins, fresh compost, and the tiny buds on the trees remind me that it won't be long now!  

I've been reading a lot of info lately about Monsanto and their monopoly on the seed industry, which brought us to the decision to learn as much as we can about self sufficient food production before we move, so we're going to try and plant our entire garden from seed this year. My grandpa assures me it's a piece of cake and has given us lots of tips!  

Here are some great resources for heirloom seeds as well as info about Monsanto's destructive hold on food production, and how you can help:
*Seed Savers  {We use this company and love them, but I'm a little biased as I grew up in Iowa!}
*Farmama  {Don't forget to read the fantastic articles she's added to the right hand side of her blog}

With a lot of love and a little luck, we'll have tomato plants sprouting in about a week!

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Sewing in the Zipper... and other finishing touches

Everyone I talk to proclaims sewing in zippers to be a difficult task, but I'm not sure why?  It really isn't difficult at all,  just take it slow and use a lot of pins!
*Pick a zipper at close to the length as possible
*Fold over the edge where you steeked the sweater
*Lay the fabric close to the zipper edge
*Pin the heck out of it! {Yes I know, very bad for the machine, but very good for my patience level}
*Sew a straight line down {or two lines, if you're so inclined}

Cole's a little sensitive to wool on his neck, so I also bought a matching flannel shirt from the thrift shop and added a little extra love to the neck.  I figured while I was at it, I'd add a little at the bottom edge too!  

I have a feeling, I'll be making another jacket in a smaller size.  Luke has only taken it off long enough for Cole to try it on, and approve!!  

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Busy Bee

~Busy as a bee working on new items for the shop this week~
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Around Our Neighborhood

A walk around the neighborhood under the late afternoon sun...

Yes, this is Cole's sweater I steeked here.  Luke snagged it up before Cole even had a chance to try it on!
More about the zipper and finishing on Monday~ 

What's happening in your neighborhood this weekend?
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How to Make Felted Wool Dryer Balls

This winter, we weren't able to hang dry laundry in the house due to some moisture issues in the basement, so I wanted to come up with a more eco~friendly, non~toxic way of doing laundry through the colder months. Wool Dryer Balls are an eco~friendly & safe alternative to toxic dryer sheets, fabric softeners, and other plastic dryer balls.

Just a few of the benefits of natural Wool Dryer Balls:
*Natural Fabric Softener
*Reduces wrinkles
*Eliminates static cling {this was a big one for us, and it really works!!}
*Quiet while tumbling
*Cuts drying time in half by absorbing all of the moisture from the clothing
*Fun & Safe for babies and pets
*Safe for all cloth diapers.  {The waxy residue from fabric softeners and dryer sheets will decrease absorbency of diapers}
*You can scent them naturally with a couple drops of essential oils {just let them dry first}

What's your favorite green laundry routine?
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Steeking a Sweater

Forget skydiving, cliff jumping, or rock climbing to get your adrenaline pumping.   Steeking a sweater is by far one of THE scariest things I've done to date. {o.k. not really, but it's definitely nerve racking}  I do it all the time with my upcycled sweaters, however, it's a little different putting scissors to 20 precious hours of knitted fabric.

Steeking is an old Norwegian term for turning a sweater knit in the round into a cardigan or jacket {especially useful for those of us who loathe purling}, by cutting right up the middle!  In this case, it's a jacket for Cole.  He spied a similar version displayed in our local yarn shop and begged me to make it for him!

To steek a sweater, begin by finding the exact middle front.  With a contrasting yarn and a large blunt needle, weave in and out up the middle row.

Next, you sew a straight line {or two for extra measure} down each side of the orange yarn.  This will keep your ends from unraveling.

Now gently pull the orange yarn out {or you can cut right through it} and with a very sharp scissors cut up the line in between your machine stitches.

That's it, now you have a cardigan! {with no purling necessary} Exhilarating isn't it.  Next, I have to put in a zipper~
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Treadle Treasure

Treasure hunting at our local thrift store this week turned up this beautiful antique treadle sewing machine at an incredibly reasonable price.  I've been searching for one ever since I saw a young girl and her mother treadle sewing a quilt at our local historical museum, but refused to pay the prices that I was finding on Craigslist and Ebay.  My electric machine isn't doing very well, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  Everything seems to be in working order, so all I need is a new belt and we're all set {I think}!  

One thing I am mystified by, is the slot in the front.  I discovered a little knob in one of the drawers that I assume goes in it, but not sure what it's for??  Anyone know??  I found a manual to purchase online, so hopefully that will shed some light onto the mysterious black hole.

As I dusted of the cobwebs, I imagined each scratch and scuff telling a story of mothers and wives sewing plaid flannel shirts for their boys to keep them warm through the long, hard Wisconsin winters or of beautiful new Spring dresses for the girls made from cotton calico prints...  I hope I can do them justice.

Like most of my creating, I take pleasure in the slow, natural flow of the process and am really looking forward to getting to know my new piece from the past.
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Introducing.. The Sitting Tree Soaps

We originally started making handmade soap over a year ago because my boys and husband suffered from extremely dry, cracked skin along with severe eczema.  We have spent a small fortune on creams and lotions, but nothing ever gave them any relief.  Mike spent some time researching natural remedies and found that our commercially based soaps were likely the culprit.   He began making handmade soap for family and friends; perfecting the recipe, experimenting with different oils, mixing scents...  then we tested them through the winter season.  We're thrilled to report that ALL of the boys' eczema is gone and Mike's hands have been free from chapped skin & cracks all winter!  We've been selling them locally for awhile now and because they've done so well, we're making the move to expand online!
{just look at those soft hands}

What is handmade soap?
Handmade soap is a cleaning agent created by combining oils, water, and lye. Oils attract the dirt which can then be easily washed away.

How do we make our soaps?
All of our soaps are made with natural ingredients, one batch at a time. Using the hot process method, the water and lye are mixed with the oils and cooked to saponification.  The mixture is then poured into the mold and let to cure overnight.  After 24 hours, we cut each of the bars by hand and let them dry for about a week.  Then they are packaged and sent off to local stores.  This summer we plan to learn how to make all the soap outside over an open fire, in preparation for off~grid living!!

What about lye?
ALL soap is made from lye.  Lye by itself is very dangerous {so we wear lots of safety gear} but when it's saponified all of the lye magically disappears and makes an organically natural bar of soap!

Why buy handmade soap?
*ALL the ingredients can be found at your local coop and are of sustainable resources!  
*We add no preservatives or petroleum based products
*All of the glycerine is retained for maximum moisture {Commercial producers remove it and sell it to cosmetic and food companies.  Then they replace the glycerine with a synthetic version which is drying and irritating to the skin}
*Our packaging is made from recycled materials.

For the next week, we're offering a Buy 2 Get One Free Deal on any of our new soaps {while supplies last}!

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For me it's stepping out of my creative comfort zone...

For my kids, it's seeing how many bubbly concoctions they can create...

For my husband, it's all about the soap...  stop back tomorrow and see how his experimentations have turned out!

What have you been experimenting with lately?

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The Mira Sweater

Now that it's half way through March, I've finally gotten last month's pattern written up!  A larger version of the Luna Sweater, Mira is knit from the top down for a simple, modern design. This versatile sweater can be worn all year long, layered with long sleeves or over a top for those cool morning walks in the park.  Available in sizes newborn to 6 years.

{Don't have a Ravelry or Etsy account?  No worries... click the "buy now" button and pay directly through Paypal.}
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{this moment}

{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. ~soulemama

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Moving in the Right Direction

Do you ever have one of those moments when everything feels like it's going in the right direction?  That's what I feel like right now.  I finally finished a monumental knitting project, our soap labels are complete, and our new off~grid homesteading adventures are feeling just within reach~

More to come about knitting, handmade soap, and other affairs of natural living this week. {And no I haven't forgotten about February's knit~a~long pattern! We've just been a little crazy this last month, as my husband's Aunt and Uncle have moved in with us.}

~I wish you all a week filled with inspiration and peaceful adventures~
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Treasury ~ Spring Cleaning

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{this moment}

{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. ~soulemama

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Tutorial: Upcycled Easter Baskets

Looking for an all~natural, eco~friendly alternative to the standard toxic easter baskets you find on the shelves of the big box stores?  Make your own this year out of recycled clothing!  

1 linen skirt/top at least 18" wide (or any thin fabric) for the lining
1 thick wool felted sweater/blanket at least 18" wide for the body

1.  Cut out a square 18" x 18".  Then in each of the 4 corners, cut out a 6" square.  You'll end up with an x shape.  The middle square will be the bottom of the basket, and the outside pieces will fold up to make the sides!

2.  Now bring your neighboring corners together.   Pin and sew all four edges together.

Repeat these steps again with the thick wool fabric.

3. Cut out two pieces of linen 2.5" x 5" for the handles.  Press each edge to the middle and then press the whole thing in half again. Sew them closed.
 4.  With right sides together, match up the corners and pin lining to the body.
 Pin the handles upside down, in between the two fabrics.  Do the same thing on the opposite side.  Sew along the edge of THREE SIDES ONLY {Make sure to include both handled edges in three sides ~ I didn't of course!}

Next, take out all your pins and turn the basket right side out.  Press your top seam flat and adjust the lining.  Hand sew the opening closed and you're done! {My wool was so thick that the top seam didn't want to stay flat so I stitched along the top again to hold it down}

Not just for Spring, these upcycled baskets are great for home organizing and storage too!  Fill them with toys,  food, or {gasp} yarn!!

Need a few non~toxic, all~natural items to compliment your new basket??  I've added several new Spring items to my shop this week ~ Bunnies, eggs, and a seriously sweet pinafore!

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