Thrifty Thursday: Patching Kids Jeans

I used to buy all of Henry’s jeans used and then I passed them on to E.  But there comes an age when you can no longer find any used jeans in your son’s size.  It starts around 4T and there is a virtual jean desert until… well, H wears a 6 slim and I still can’t find them.  Because boys this age are HARD on jeans.

I have not been able to pass jeans down either.  By the time one boy is done with them, there is only enough jean left for shorts, if I’m lucky.  Besides that, E is determined to keep growing and seems to be catching up to his older brother.  They are only one size apart now.  Some things fit both of them.

All of this is to tell you that patching jeans has become an important skill in this house.

Here is a quick tutorial of how I keep my boys’ knees covered through the winter.  This method give the jeans that popular “destroyed” look, except they are hole-free and will hold up for a few more months.

Here we have a pair on holey jeans…

Holey Jeans

I have yet to buy a patch, instead I have cut “patches” from the lower legs and backs of jeans that were too holey to be repaired.  I use pinking shears to cut a piece of denim large enough to cover the hole.  If you don’t have any jeans to cut from, you can buy jean patches at a fabric store.

Pin your patch to the inside of the jeans, with the pins on the outside so you can pull them out as you sew.

Pin patch to inside

My sewing machine has this crazy stitch.  All machines are different, but select the craziest stitch you have.

Select crazy stitch

Next I remove the accessories box that allows my machine to have a free arm…

Free the arm

And then I slide the leg of the jeans over the arm.  This is so that I can stitch the patch on without sewing through the whole leg, closing it on accident.

Slide leg over

Now start sewing.  You are going to stitch all over the hole and the patch.  Back-stitch is your friend, because with the jeans over the arm like this you can’t turn them at all.

Crazy stitch all over the hole

I found it helpful to stick my left hand in the top of the jeans and use my right hand to operate the back-stitch lever.  Now sew, sew, sew.  Cover the entire hole and all around it.

Back stich a lot

Almost done.  Sew like crazy.

view from inside

After the patch is covered with crazy stitches, slide the jeans off the machine arm, turn inside out and trim any excess patch away.

All done!  A little extra life with a rough and tough patch for your kids’ jeans!

All done

Depending on the thread you use, you can really make the patch stand out with contrasting thread, or disappear if you can get a good color match.  I have about four different blues.  I try to get close, but thankfully, my boys are at an age where they really don’t care either way.

Do you patch kids’ clothes?  What tips do you have?

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Categories: DIY, Thrift | 6 Comments

Plugging In

During a long talk with Rick at the beginning of November, during which I was feeling quite overwhelmed with projects and homeschooling and life in general, I decided to go ahead and normalize our kitchen again.  We plugged the fridge back in.

We unplugged the fridge in May of 2011. It was supposed to be a month-long experiment.  We left it unplugged for a year and a half.  So, I guess in that way, it was a total success.  We had a great system down, and we pretty much forgot what life with a refrigerator was like.

I liked it, being weird and different and extreme.  But also, Rick and I were getting to the point where we craved a little normalcy and simplicity in our lives in general.  The fridge was a sort of symbol for me of this crazy, hippie extreme life that I wanted to have.  And, Rick, being super supportive, has come along for the ride, and for the most part, we have that life.

We grow our food or buy from local farms, we have chickens and bees.  I never buy cereal or use paper plates or paper towels.  I’ve made our own laundry soap and dishwasher detergent.  We’ve cloth diapered (3 kids), etc.  You get the point.

IMG_6868

But sometimes being weird can wear on you.  It was wearing on us both (not the fridge, but you know… everything).

One of my good friends talks about how tough it can be to live in two worlds.  You know the two… one in which all your friends only buy gluten-free, sustainably harvested, BPA-free, GMO-free, soy-free, local, handmade, hand loomed, home-grown, vegetarian fed, and free range.  And the other world: the on sale, easy clean-up, big box, double coupon, plastic, convenient, drive-thru, battery operated, disposable one.

I mean, take a kid’s birthday party.  Imagine hosting 25 people but using nothing disposable.  No paper plates or plastic forks or crêpe paper streamers.  Or if you do use plastic cups you feel guilty, even for the biodegradable ones.  The guilt.

So I decided to let go.  Not of everything.  Sometimes I use a paper towel or 100% recycled paper plate.  The fridge was something simple that could go back to normal, not be so weird.

You wouldn’t believe how novel it felt.  Having a freezer inside the house, having room for anything in the fridge.  We hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I let the turkey thaw in the fridge, and there was room for other things.  It was amazing!   (By the way, we also hosted T-day without a fridge, it’s totally doable).

This doesn’t mean I’m going all conventional, back to disposable everything.  But it does mean I’m giving myself more grace.  I don’t need to be perfect or extreme.  I just need to keep trying.

Categories: Simple Living, Unplugging the Fridge | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

What to Expect from the Lazy Homesteader in 2013

I’ve thought pretty hard about the “resolutions” I want to share on the blog for this year.  I’ve had a hard time thinking of specific goals, and I’m not really into the “lose twenty pounds” type of resolutions.  I’ve decided that instead of goals I wanted to focus on some themes that are both personal to me and yet very applicable to the homesteading way of life.

This year, you can expect to see posts (hopefully weekly, realistically a couple of times a month) having to do with one or two of the following themes.

Rick hikng with C on his backCommunity – In 2012, I established a monthly potluck to help build community.  I made some new friends and built connections.  In 2013 I want to do this more.  I want more connection, more real relationships.  I have realized that no one can live this life alone.  We need each other and I want more of it.  I have a challenge in mind for this theme this year.  I’m excited about it, though it’s going to be a tough one.

Preparedness – Colorado had the worst wild-fire of all time in 2012.  There were hurricanes on the East coast.  For much of the country, there were record heat waves and drought.  Across the country there were poor harvest and food prices are on the rise.  I’m not a panicky or prepper or anything like that, but I have started thinking about the benefits of being prepared in a real emergency.

Thrift – Expect to see more DIY posts this year.  From homemade to making-do to doing without, I plan to share more thrifty ideas this year.

Food Connections – This is the thing that sent me down the homesteading path all those years ago; being connected to our food.  I have plans to share about sustainable food sources, processing your own meat (including wild game and hunting), and of course the garden.  This year I am going to explore as many aspects of food connection as I can.  I hope to close some of the gaps we’ve had in our own food sources as well.

Grace – This year I plan to go easier on myself.  You guys know I love a crazy goal.  But I also need a little more balance, and my kids certainly need a sane mommy.  So I plan to cut myself a little slack this year.  I’ve realized that this journey to being green and crunchy and self-sufficient is just that, a journey.  I don’t have to do it all at once.  It’s ok to take small steps and find what is feasible for our family.  I’m not throwing the baby out with the grey water or anything, but I am going to focus more on things like simplicity, peace, and well, the categories mentioned above.  :)

I’m really looking forward to 2013 and what it will bring.  And I’m excited to share our homestead with you as always.

Categories: Community, DIY, Simple Living, Thrift, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top Seven Posts of 2012

Here we are, the last day of the year.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to welcome 2013.  Before we get there, I thought I’d recap some of my 2012 posts for you.  I published 80 posts this year (this post makes 81).

This year, pinterest came on the scene for my blog, and I had to start upping the ante on my photos.   I also started getting some movement on reddit.  It has been a fun year of writing for me, and I hope to do even more in 2013.

Below are the top posts in seven different categories.  Some of them are the most popular and some are posts that I thought were a bit overlooked.  Almost all of them have to do with food.

Most commented on post: Homestead Failures: Confessions of What I Didn’t Do.  Seems like you guys could relate!

Best food post of 2012Garlic Scapes Two Ways.  It’s hard to go wrong with garlic scapes, and they are pretty too.

The most overlooked food post of 2012:  Despite having quite a few comments, there were not very many hits on my Spicy Hot Lava Cakes recipe.  It’s a quick and easy dessert, and very tasty.  Check it out!

Most overlooked how-to post:  When to Harvest Garlic.  Was this old news?  Or not many people growing garlic?  Just bad timing?  I’m not sure why the hits here were low here.

The most popular post of 2012: Practical Ways to Store Food without a Fridge which, thanks to pinterest, surpassed my previous all-time most popular post: 2010’s Handmade Halloween – Garden Gnome Tutorial.

Most “controversial” post of the year: Five Things No One Tells You about Keeping Chickens.  I got some heat on reddit, where this post ruffled the feathers of the chicken huggers there.  Despite that, it has stayed in the all time top twelve of /r/homestead.  It was actually in the top ten until the middle of November.  So yay for that!

The 2012 post I’m most proud ofThe Gamey Taste of Game Meat, Part I.  I really love how this post turned out.  I worked hard on putting it together and it was well received.  I hope to do a few more hunting/game meat posts int he coming year.

If you enjoyed this recap, make sure to check out my top posts of 2011 as well.

I would personally like to thank you, my readers, for visiting my blog, especially those of you who take the time to comment.  Many of you are regulars and I appreciate your frequent comments:  Annie at Learning As We Go, Cynthia in Denver, Jessie: Improved, Robin at Seventh Acre Heaven, Laura H., City Sister, John (aka El Goucho), Alice, Roxanne, dixiebelle, and so many others (I’m sorry I can’t list you all!).  Seeing that people are interested in what I have to say keeps the blog fun and exciting for me.  All of you who comment add so much to the information here.  Thank you!  I hope all of you have a safe and happy new year.  See you in 2013!

Categories: Recommended Reading, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

2012 Resolutions Revisited

It’s the winter solstice.  The days are going to get longer and spring is on the way.  2012, you have gone by so quickly.

Around this time last year I set out a few resolutions for 2012.  Here’s a recap of what those were:

  1. Grow a giant pumpkin. 
  2. Grow enough in our own neighborhood gardens to feed ourselves for the summer.
  3. Process chickens.  
  4. Harvest Honey. 
  5. Start a monthly potluck circle.

So how did we do with those?  Well, we tried to grow the pumpkin.  We planted it, we watered it, we fed it compost tea.  But it only got to about the size of a volley ball.  So next year, we will have to try again.

Number two, well… not quite yet.  We’ll keep on that road.  We did process chickens this year, as well as harvest our own honey, though.

HHarvest10

The potluck.  We started the monthly potluck in February.  We have hosted one every month since then except in June (kids were all sick) and November (we were out of town, hunting).  And this is one resolution we are definitely keeping up with.

I’m still thinking over what my resolutions for the new year will be.  Do you have any resolutions for yourself yet?  How about ideas for me?  Something you want to see me try?

Categories: Community, Garden, Sustainability, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Stitching Up Stocking Stuffers

Hey, did you guys know that I have an etsy shop?  I do!  I’ve been cooking up a couple of little handmade stocking stuffers for the holidays.  There is still time to get them before Christmas, if you’re interested.

Wool Mistletoe

Felted wool mistletoe (not poisonous!), a reversible coffee cozie…

Birds & Butterflies Coffe Cozie

And, some reusable cloth food bags (two in a set), perfect for bulk items at the store.  These hold about 2 quarts each.

Bulk Food Bags

Have you been making any gifts for Christmas?

Do you have a shop on etsy?  Please share your shop in the comments!

Categories: DIY, Simple Living | 9 Comments

Ax Skills for the Homestead & Wilderness DVD Winner

Drawn by a random number generator….. Cass is the winner!  I will email you, Cass, with instructions on how to get your DVD.

If you didn’t win, make sure you visit oldfedco.com and order a copy for yourself.   Thanks again to Alex and Old Federal Ax Co. for this awesome giveaway!

Categories: DIY, Giveaways, Simple Living, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce and Peach-Cranberry Pie

I hope you aren’t tired of all the recipes I’ve been posting lately.  These next two are actually reprints of recipes I posted back in 2009.  They are so good, however, that they’ve become Thanksgiving favorites.  Both recipes serve about 8 people.

I really love this cranberry sauce.  I have a couple of family members who still prefer the can shaped stuff, but this has been a hit with the rest.  It makes a large batch, which means leftovers and that makes me happy.

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
Makes 3½ cups sauce

2 packages fresh cranberries (24oz each)
1.5 cups sugar
4 large strips of orange peel
1/2 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

Rinse and drain cranberries.  In a large sauce pan, add cranberries, sugar, orange peel and water.  Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes.  Add rosemary sprigs and simmer 5-10 minutes more.  Remove from heat, and stir in orange juice.  Reserve 1 cup of sauce for the pie.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.  To serve, bring to room temperature and remove rosemary and orange peel, garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

The next recipe is a pie that went from a way to use up that leftover cranberry sauce (a great way), to a planned Thanksgiving day dessert.  Rick looks forward to this pie all year long now.

I typically use frozen peaches that we harvested from the Western slope in the summer time.  Fresh peaches would certainly work as well, but they are not really at their peak around Thanksgiving.  Sometimes the frozen peaches release A LOT of juice.  If they are super juicy, I throw a handful or so of rolled oats into the pie filling to soak it up.  This is totally optional, of course.  If you don’t like oats in your pie, just pour off some of the excess juice before adding the peaches into the filling mixture.

Peach-Cranberry Pie

1 home-made pie crust for a double crust pie
6 cups frozen, sliced, unsweetened peaches, defrosted and undrained
1 cup left-over orange-rosemary cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 – 3/4 cup rolled oats (optional)
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 375°.  Put bottom pie crust in a deep-dish pie plate.  Stir together peaches, cranberry sauce, sugar, flour and, if needed, oats.  Pour into prepared crust.  Dot with butter and top with second crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Cover edges of pie crust with foil if the top is browning too quickly.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

This pie is pretty topped with a lattice crust, like I did last year, but I’ve also just thrown chunks of extra rolled out dough on top, or even used a cast iron skillet and only a top crust with simple slits cut into it.  This year I plan to cut slits into my top crust to look like a rosemary sprig.  Wish me luck with that fanciness.  ;)

Next week I’ll announce the winner of the DVD giveaway.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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