Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

Antidote March 23, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,D.I.Why,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 10:45 am
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(click for project details)

Knitting is the antidote to a world that is always changing and too often hostile.

It’s a simple act that provides you with multiple choices to which there are no wrong answers – wool or silk, cotton or linen, solid color or a variegated rainbow? The options are initially overwhelming, but you soon learn to revel in them, to embrace this opportunity to answer to only yourself.

Knitting also helps you understand that you have the power to effect change. Maybe the pattern you’re following has long sleeves but you want them to be three-quarter length, or perhaps you need a few extra inches of length in the body to avoid a chilly midriff. As you knit, you learn to analyze what you need and want, and develop strategies for tweaking and reworking a pattern until it’s exactly right for you.

Finally, knitting gives you control. When stock markets crash and your in-laws gripe and your children proudly reveal a permanently autographed sofa, you can pick up your knitting and wield utter and complete control over that one small part of your world.

Knitting reminds you of the power you have to make your own choices, work towards your goals, and take pleasure in the results, no matter what the world throws at you.


Unplugged Kids: Finger Knitting January 12, 2011

Filed under: D.I.Why,Kids,Simplicity — bethanyjoy @ 12:14 pm
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Is it just me, or is it growing increasingly more difficult to get kids “unplugged”? Not that it’s surprising, given the way technology has taken over life in general…in the process of putting together this post, I used my cellphone/camera and netbook, internet, and multiple apps. Ironic, no? Well, it is what it is! 🙂 So, this is the first techology-produced post in a series of posts designed to help us get our kids doing more low-tech activities. Once you’re over the inherent contradiction there, I hope you’ll give the following activity a whirl!

Unplugged Kids #1 – Finger Knitting

  • Why Try? Finger knitting improves fine motor skills, gives you an excuse (not that you need one!) to snuggle up together on the couch for a few minutes and provides an opportunity for your child to experience the thrill of “making something” – collars like those shown above or scarves for stuffies are a BIG hit at my house – C&E made the ones in the picture in less than 20 minutes. Added bonus? A children’s therapist shared with me a very helpful tidbit of information: activities that involve the hands in rhythmic, side-to-side motions are incredibly calming for kids. Even my bouncy-tigger boy loves finger knitting – it’s one of the few activities where he will voluntarily sit still. 🙂  
  • Age Range – 4+ (A 3 year old with excellent dexterity could probably manage, but my kids all figured this out at the same age they learned to read.)
  • Level of Difficulty: Easier than getting them into their snowsuits!
  • Materials Needed: thick yarn (bulky, bright and fuzzy seem to be popular with the kindergarten crowd) – once they’ve figured out the technique, you can mix different yarns by holding two strands together. But for starters, choose something thick and fluffy.
  • How To: I was going to do a tutorial, but then I thought, “Hey, self, save yourself some time and just link them to the awesome tutorial that you used to teach yourself!” So, go check out Pretty Ditty’s Finger Knitting Tutorial for a great step-by-step visual. (You can also achieve the same result by wrapping the second row of yarn around your fingers above the first in the same manner – ie, looping it around each finger – and then passing the bottom loops over the top ones.)

Let me know if you give this a try! I’d also love to hear any suggestions you have for Unplugged Kids activities – what quick, easy, simple projects or activities work for you and your kids?


Unfinished December 30, 2010

Filed under: Blahging,D.I.Why,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 10:15 pm
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Life is like an unfinished sweater… 

…full of potential. No matter how messy it looks halfway done, there is always hope that by the time you cast off, you’ll have created something special.

…a learning process. Even with skills and a plan, there will always be mistakes to make and grow from.

…an opportunity for simply winging it, for taking in hand whatever humble materials you possess and plying them into something uniquely your own.

Life is like an unfinished sweater…make it fit.


In Which I Pretend To Be A Techie November 30, 2010

Filed under: Blahging,D.I.Why,Penny Saved — bethanyjoy @ 9:29 pm
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I’ve been having fun with my early Christmas present – an iPhone4 – and have finally figured out a way to access my collection of ebooks that doesn’t involve the computer equivalent of brain surgery. No importing-exporting .xml library crazy talk. None of that. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Oh, and it’s free. Because I’m cheap – er, thrifty – like that.

Here’s how:

  1. Do the Dropbox thing – it’s pretty straightforward. Get it active on your computer and download the Dropbox App to your iPhone.
  2. Download Calibre and during installation set the library location (the file where you save them on your computer) to be within Dropbox. [I’ve heard the public folder works best?] If you already have Calibre up and running on your computer, you can change the library location so it is within Dropbox.
  3. Convert your ebooks to .epub files. (If they’re .pdf’s, you can skip this step if you choose to buy the GoodReader app – try the reflow option, it makes reading pdf’s a bit more book-like.)
  4. Install the Stanza app on your iPhone. It’s free, and works way better than iBooks in my opinion – faster and more stable.
  5. Pour a coffee – you’re done. 🙂 To read your books, simply open the Dropbox app on your iPhone. Tap through to your library, tap on the book you want and download it. A little box-with-a-curvy-arrow icon appears in the bottom right corner of your screen; tap that and you’ll be given the option to export your file to Stanza. (Or GoodReader.) Do so.

Happy reading!


#5 – Knit Bry A Sweater – Done! October 31, 2010

They are fabulous, aren’t they? From left to right we have Harry Potter, Rockstar, Fairy-Princess and Ron Weasley.

Something else that’s fabulous? I can cross off another item off my 30 Before 30 list – Bryan has a sweater! (And so does Joey. And they’re freaking HUGE sweaters; can I have brownie points for this, can I, huh, can I?!)

Lots of knitty-gritty (haha…get it? Yeah. This is why I shouldn’t be posting at 10pm) details are on my Ravelry project pages here and here.

Also…see those stupendous, authentic Quidditch brooms? We made those, too. AND the Rockstar’s guitar. AND the cool round corners on the pictures.

Yep. Am totally rockin’ the creative wave…

…and NANOWRIMO starts in 2.5 hours!

🙂 Cheers, all!


Pocket Hugs September 15, 2010

It has been a busy couple weeks. Joey and Bry are back in the swing of school – Grade 3 and 1, how did that happen already?! And I’m cramming to try and finish up the online course I’m taking…I’d rather be blogging, but there’s only so many hours. Just wanted to share a little something that we’re finding helpful this year, in dealing with some separationa anxiety issues.

Theirs, not mine. But I will probably be a wee bit of a basketcase when C&E start classes tomorrow…

Anyway; enough with the blahging. Here’s a nifty little pattern for crocheted hearts; it’s quick, easy, and you can whip up a pile of them in an evening. I highly recommend stockpiling them, as they have a tendency to disappear in the washing machine.

To use, make a big show of “charging” the heart full of hugs and kisses, then tuck it in your child’s pocket as part of your heading-to-school routine. Anytime they’re feeling sad or worried, they can hold the heart and get a hug.

Simple, but they love it!

(Thanks to Meleesa for the suggestion of a heart when I deliberating over what to make!)


Backpack Rack August 18, 2010

Say that five times fast! 🙂 I’ve spent the last few years tripping over first one backpack, then two…but starting four weeks from now, I’ll have four in school. Visions of having to climb over a backpack mountain when I come in the front door scared me into finally coming up with a solution. A trip to the local Habitat Restore turned up a nifty looking piece of wood (maybe part of an old bedframe? I have no clue.) for $3.00 and a bunch of brand-new nickel-finish hooks, two for a buck.  Perfect! Here is how I put it all together…

Step One: make use of some of gazillion empty boxes I’ve been piling on the back patio as I unpack to create a spray-paint studio. In the name of efficiency, I put out everything else I could think of that I was planning to paint – hence the picture frames and coat rack. You’ll see those later. 🙂

Step Two: Panic when it begins to rain after you’ve finished the first coat. Cover items with boxes and duck inside. Panic doubly when thunder and lightning join the party. Spend the next 40 minutes hoping desperately that your projects aren’t destroyed.

Step Three: Dry projects and apply final coat of spray paint.

Step Four: (next day) Distress board. Conveniently, the spots with water damage added to the aged-and-weathered effect. 😉

Step Five: Space hooks out evenly; I put mine at 12″ intervals so the backpacks could hang side by side.

Step Six: Hang on the wall; finding the studs is a smart idea.

I just used Krylon Interior/Exterior Flat Black spray paint that I picked up at the local Canadian Tire, not chalkboard paint, but it works as well – at least for this application, it might not stand up to a lot of chalk art. I like the old-fashioned, schoolhousey sort of feel to this…and at a total of $5.00, the price works!

Linking up to the CSI Project…the projects there put mine to shame, but hey, I did use spray paint! 😉



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