Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's in YOUR Emergency Kit?

(photo from CBC News)
Over the weekend, out of control forest fires ripped through the Alberta town of Slave Lake. Extreme winds spread the fire quickly and hampered efforts to contain the blaze. About 40% of the town was destroyed, including the brand new Town Hall and Library, a car dealership, the radio station, and entire neighborhoods.

(photo from CTV News)
I won't tell you exactly where I live - though thankfully, i'm not in Slave Lake - suffice it to say that we are close enough to smell smoke. I used to go shopping in Slave Lake regularly. This town of 7000 people was evacuated, and more than 3000 more were evacuated from surrounding towns. There was enough notice given that everyone made it out safely, but hundreds of homes were completely destroyed, with nothing but the ash-filled foundations left.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I hear the constant counsel of our Prophet on emergency preparedness: food storage, 72-hour kits, etc. Never have I thought too deeply about it until today. I watched every update, in shock of the disaster, and keeping track of the other fires to see if they were getting close to us. I couldn't sleep that first night. I prayed often for these people who have lost so much, and for the continued safety of everyone involved, particularly the firefighters.

And as i watched, i thought, "What would i take if the call comes to evacuate my town?". I made a mental list of things we would need, and things i would like to save, and realized that in the heat of panic, i probably wouldn't remember and/or be able to find many of the important things, such a legal documents for our home and insurance, identification and vital statistics, and backup discs of all our photos. As i discussed it with my husband, we realized the need to have "Grab-and-Go" kits - supplies already packed together and ready in case we have to leave our home in a hurry. We have a 72-hour emergency kit filled with supplies for an emergency where we would be stranded somewhere away from civilization, but i thought it important to gather some basics as well, like normal food, bottled, changes of clothes, petty cash, diapers, toiletries... things that we might forget in a panic, or might take too long to gather.

So many of these people lost so much - some of them were left with just the clothes on their back. As a mother, i want to make sure my children are provided for no matter what our situation, and the thought that we might lose our home, and all we're left with might be whatever we can pack into the van was terrifying. Many of our things can be replaced, but what if i forget some of those things that are irreplaceable? What if we get stuck somewhere and can't make it to an evacuation center?

Natural disasters are becoming more an more common - earthquakes, tsunami, floods, wildfires, tornadoes... The Last Days are here, and I can't keep pretending that out here in a small, landlocked, prairie town we are safe. Stocking food storage is extremely important, but these days i'm thinking that a well-stocked 72 hour kit is even more important - large enough for your family, but small enough to pack up quickly if your house catches fire, or some other disaster devastates your home.

So my question is, do you have a 72-Hour kit? What kinds of things do you have in it?

Friday, May 13, 2011

You Know You're A Craft-a-holic When....

... You put off feeding your 6 month-old baby so you can finish sewing a super-cute Bapron for him to wear...

... and then make him pose for pictures before he finally gets his pureed sweet potatoes.

Sorry, bud! Mommy has issues! i promise, i won't make any more until you're asleep...

P.S. Check out more "You Know You're A Craft-a-Holic When..." here, and have a nice laugh!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Felt Fooding: Sugar Cookies

Today, we'll be making sugar cookies!

For this project, you'll need:

  • light brown felt
  • felt for icing (any color you like - i used boring old white)
  • circle cutter or something round to trace (my plastic kids cup from Ikea measured 3 inches at the top and 2 inches at the bottom - i used both ends)
  • Steam-A-Seam (if you have it. this stuff is amazing and saves time! but it's not absolutely necessary)
  • ebroidery thread in various colors (same light brown for the cookie, and other colors for sprinkles) and a needle.
  • batting or poly-fill
(completely ignore the rotary cutter and supplies - i have no idea why they're there. i think i was working on other projects, and had a mental glitch, thinking they needed to be in this picture. I'm still trying to figure out this whole tutorial thing)

Step one - cut two circles (if you're using a cup like me, use the larger - 3 inch - end) out of the light brown felt. This is the top and bottom of your cookie.

(Sorry there's no picture, but i think you can figure it out)

For the icing (since I'm terrible at free-handing wavy circles), i used the bottom of the cup to trace a circle:

Then i used the line as my guide to cut the wavy circle, making sure the dips don't go below the line.

You could just make a regular circle, a bit smaller than the cookie, if you like. For real sugar cookies, i am adamant that the icing must cover the entire top surface of said cookie. But for the felt ones, i liked the wavy look better.

At this point, for most of my cookies, i used good old Steam-A-Seam to glue the icing on. If you don't have any, go ahead and stitch the icing on (it looks cute too!):

For sprinkles, make short stitches randomly across the top. In making this tutorial, i forgot that i had doubled up the thread for the sprinkles on the other cookies, so these sprinkles are pretty thin. :(

I made three sprinkles with one color and tied it off:

Then i made more - a total of three sprinkles in each of four colors.

The back will be a bit of a mess, but that's okay, it'll be inside the cookie.

If you're using flat batting, cut three circles a bit smaller  than the cookie - about 1/8th (or a little more) of an inch all around.

Stack them up like so. The batting i had was fusible, which was very nice. I sandwiched them, ironed them together and they stayed put!

Apparently i forgot to take more pictures... But for flat stuffing, blanket stitch all the way around and you're done. If you're using regular stuffing, put the top and bottom together (empty) and blanket stitch most of the way around the cookie, then fill with stuffing until you're satisfied. Try to make it as flat as you can. Then finish up the stitch.

The puffy cookies (using poly-fill) were kinda cute, but for some reason, i just preferred the flat ones. But really, it's all up to you.

And now, you're ready for your tea (or cocoa...) party!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


The LDS Church every now and then releases short inspirational videos on various topics called "Mormon Messages". They are all wonderful and uplifting and strengthening. This is one of my absolute favorites! It always makes me weep. We young mothers need to be reminded often of this:

Happy Mother's Day!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Speaking of Strawberries...

Have you ever bought a food item just because it was strange or made you laugh?

I was buying strawberries at the local grocery store yesterday, checking the packages for the best berries, when i saw this:

The package didn't contain the BEST berries - no mold or huge problems, and i'm sure they'll still be delicious, but there were a few small bruises. But i saw this mutant berry on the bottom and had to buy it! this thing was HUGE! it took up the entire bottom of the 1 lb package it was in!

Anyway, hope you're having a great weekend!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Felt Strawberries

Sorry for the long drought of posts - family life has been very demanding, and tutorials take a lot more time than i realized! I just want to take a moment and say thank you to all the wonderful people who make the effort to put together free tutorials, because i now know it really is EFFORT! Not that many of them will read this post, but i'm putting it out there anyway! And making more efforts to comment on blogs i read, and show my appreciation to them.

Anyway, on to the tutorial! One of the simplest (and cutest!!) foods i made for our little friend were the strawberries. She was having a strawberry themed party, and so it was only natural that we would throw in some of those little red fruit. (and I totally LOVE strawberries too)

Since there were so many pics in this tutorial, i made some collages - let me know how you like them! Great? Lame? Easier to follow? More difficult to follow?

Anyway, here is how you make these adorable berries!

You will need:
  • Red felt
  • Green scraps of felt
  • a circle cutter, or something round to trace (5-6 inch diameter)
  • embroidery thread
  • poly-fill  (or your craft stuffing of choice)
  • cutting and sewing supplies
  • hot glue gun

Start by cutting a circle out of red felt. I used a very high tech instrument known as a cereal bowl to trace my circle. It has a diameter of 5 1/2 inches, and produced two 1 1/2 x 2 inch berries - the perfect size, i think. But if you want bigger or smaller, go for it! Then cut the circle in half.

Fold the half-circles and stitch the straight edges together with your sewing machine to create a cone (1/4 inch seam allowance). You may trim the point if you want to, but i preferred to just leave it. I like the end of the berry to be rounder myself, though there's not a HUGE difference, so i just saved myself the extra step.
Now turn your berry right side out.

Stitch along the edge of the berry (no more than a 1/4 inch from the top), keeping the thread ends to the inside. I used embroidery floss, but you could just as easily use a strong thread if you prefer.

Stuff the berry with poly-fill and then tighten the thread ends to close up the top as much as possible. Tie a knot or two and either trim off the excess thread or stuff the ends back inside the berry.

I used a pale pink embroidery thread to make the seeds. Tie a knot at the end of your thread. Stick your needle through the hole at the top and out the side. With the distraction of stopping every 30 seconds to take a picture, i forgot that i like to start the seeds at the bottom, but it doesn't make a huge difference where you start, really. There's no need to tie knots (unless you're feeling extra ambitious), just make small stitches around the berry until you're satisfied.

Bring the thread back out at the top, catching the edge of the opening. Tie a knot, stick the needle back inside the berry and out the side and trim off the excess thread.

Cut out some rounded five-point stars out of your green felt (1 1/2 inches or more from point to point). I was making multiple berries, so i traced a template onto cardstock, since it's hard for me to get a perfect star every time. I didn't care enough to figure out how to stitch the top on so it would look nice, so i just hot glued it on. They stay really well, so i'm sticking with it (no pun intended!). And you're done! Now you can go make a whole bushel!