Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Lionus" -- a Rag Tag Blanket

Last month I introduced "Maggie the Taggie Owl" a sensory tag blanket for babies. Today I'd like to give you a sneak peak of...

Lionus {pronouced "Linus"} is another sensory tag blanket for infants. He would be the perfect blanket for a little one who roars -- if you know what I mean. Tag blankets have been known to have a calming affect on babies. By interacting with and exploring the different surfaces of the blanket and ribbons, babies senses can be both soothed and stimulated. {"Soothed" being the "operative" word in that sentence.}

Tag blankets were first invented by a woman who noticed that her infant played with the tags of the toys more than the toys themselves. I'm sure we've all been around children who are more fixated on the tag of a blanket than the blanket itself. My first grandchild was like that. The tag on her blanket had to be replaced with a tag from another blanket because she wore out the first. These tag blankets are the perfect gift for a child like that...

I love the full, ribboned, rag-tag mane of Lionus and his sweet, bashful expression...

On Lionus if one ribboned tag wears out there are 44 more to keep little hands busy...

The pattern for Lionus still needs to be tweaked a little. That always happens when I make something for the first time, but overall I'm happy with the results.

I'm going to relax Labor Day weekend, but soon after I'll post the pattern and tutorial for "Lionus -- The Rag-Tag Blanket" for my blog readers. You'll only have 24 hours to request the pattern free of charge, then I'll place the pattern in my Etsy shop -- so stay tuned!

Update to yesterday's post: "Thank you" to all who commented and sent me emails yesterday with words of encouragement. I truly appreciate it. To answer some of your questions, the sites that "scrape" blog posts (or entire blogs) are document-sharing websites that allow users to post documents of various formats, and embed them into a web page. When I contacted the site (Scribd) where my posts and patterns had been published and informed them of the copyright infringement, the posts were removed within 24 hours, and they sent this message:

The documents listed above were added to Scribd's copyright management system automatically upon removal from the site. This system makes encoded digital "fingerprints" of the copyrighted works and stores them in a database that's inaccessible to the public. New uploads to the site are checked against the encoded "fingerprints" in our copyright system. If there's a significant match, the content is removed from Scribd.

So... the chances of those same posts being scraped and placed on this website a second time is slim, but that doesn't discourage people from lifting different posts on my blog and downloading them to this same site or others. Look  here under "Criticism" for some interesting reading.

I found out that my posts had been lifted after reading about other people having their posts confiscated in this way. I decided to "google" some of my more popular posts and found them on this site. I think by having my readers email me for my patterns, it will discourage this kind of copyright infringement.

A little FYI -- I consider it a compliment when other bloggers refer their readers to my blog by posting a picture of something I've created and linking it to my blog. I had several people who had done that show concern yesterday. To be featured on another blog is an honor. I also love it when people post their own creations from my patterns on their blog and then have the courtesy to link to my blog -- so nice! If you have a question, simply refer to my "Copyright Policy" on the sidebar of my blog. ;o)

Thanks again for your encouraging words. I don't let these kinds of things bother me for long. After my rant yesterday I was "done" with it! ;o) Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Unscrupulous People and Dishonest Sites...

For the last few years I've enjoyed distributing most of my patterns free of charge to my readers. It has brought a lot of joy and satisfaction to my life knowing that there are people who appreciate my hard work in coming up with a fun and unique pattern and a set of instructions that people can understand and follow. There have been some that have taken advantage of my copyright policies in the past -- using items from my patterns and instructions to promote their own businesses, but for the most part I've been grateful that people have been respectful of my wishes to honor my copyrighted materials.

Recently, however, I've come upon some sites that have scraped entire blog posts from my blog and my patterns from These awful sites gather the "best" content from popular blogsites and display it on their website. It's a violation of copyrights, but that doesn't seem to "bother them" until they are caught. The process of having your blog content removed from one of these sites is often laborious. I imagine this violation is sure to continue and get worse with time.

As a result I've taken a couple of my "special" patterns out of Google docs and am selling them in my Etsy store or giving them away free of charge by having you email me for the pattern. In the future I will still create many free patterns that will be available to my readers, but they will only be available by emailing me for the pattern (instead of posting them on the web in or directly onto one of my posts). This process of answering emails takes a good deal of my time, but I don't want my patterns stolen and placed on other websites, so it's worth the extra time and effort to me.

I have to admit, I'm frustrated with people who blatantly steal what isn't theirs. 

Update: Thanks to all who commented and sent me emails of encouragement. Go here (to the bottom of the post) for an update.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Zucchini Bread & Applesauce ...

I'm finally finished with the painting that kept me busy these last two weeks, and I've moved on to using some of the produce that our garden is dishing out...

Ahhh, zucchini -- the one plant you can invariably count on to produce copious amounts of squash day in and day out. We haven't reached "our limit," but we're getting close. Last week I made a double recipe of Paula Dean's Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. This recipe {at least in my oven} produces a crispy "crust" with a moist, delicious center -- so yummy. And, as we all know, a recipe can only be improved with the addition of chocolate.

I've also had a bumper crop of Granny Smith apples to deal with this year...

Last Friday I got up early and made 14 jars of applesauce. Years ago when I canned applesauce I used quart jars to feed our large family. With only my husband and me living at home these days, I use 8 oz. jam or jelly jars. This is the perfect serving size for my husband and me. Instead of opening a large jar, refrigerating most of it, and having it petrify in the fridge, we open the small jar and use it up in one sitting. If you're not into canning, just ladle the applesauce into freezer containers and freeze it. It lasts beautifully up to a year in the freezer!

Applesauce is so easy to make, and there are a myriad of recipes out there. I just cook my apples in apple juice {or water}, and add a little brown and granulated sugar {I go really easy on the sugar}, lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon to taste. It's as simple as that. Then I pour it into jars, and process it in a water bath canner for about 15 minutes {less if you're closer to sea level}.

The result is delicious...

I derive a good deal of satisfaction from growing something, processing it, and enjoying it throughout the year. There's nothing better than opening a jar of homemade applesauce in mid January and being reminded of the taste of summer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bloomin' Tuesday...

Temps in the 100's for weeks on end may have put corn crops in other parts of the country in difficult circumstances, but in Colorado we've seen bumper crops of heat-loving fruits and veggies. Warmer than usual weather has produced crops that are at least two weeks ahead of their usual production schedule. Our fruit trees have certainly benefited from the hot weather and the rain that we {thankfully} received in July.

Last night we had just enough time before it began sprinkling, to pick our first bowl of these luscious apples. I'll turn this batch into applesauce, and this weekend I'll make some into a homemade apple pie. This variety is "Granny Smith" so it's perfect for cooking and baking. Delicious!

I love having fruit trees and a veggie garden in our yard. There's something wonderful about stepping outside and picking a bowl of fresh fruit or vegetables. The difference in taste and texture between fresh produce and produce we buy in the stores is enormous!

Linked to:
Bloomin' Tuesday @ Ms. Green Thumb Jeans
Garden Tuesday @ Sidewalk Shoes

Monday, August 20, 2012

Still painting...

Last week I mentioned that I was painting my kitchen, informal dining area, and family room. We plan on redoing our kitchen in the next few years, but I didn't want to wait until then to give it a little update. By Thursday I had two coats of paint on the ceiling and had finished the kitchen and dining areas with two coats of paint on the walls. I decided to take Friday off so my aching muscles could recover. Today and tomorrow I'll finish by painting the walls in the family room.

It took me the good part of a week to settle in on the color that I wanted to use in the kitchen. I tried various sample colors on the walls, and we finally decided upon "Parachute Silk" by Behr. I am so happy with the results. It's a beautiful neutral light grayish tan, and it goes well with my blue and white plate collection that I have on the soffit above my cabinets.

The ceiling was painted ultra white, which I love! A few weeks ago my son-in-law put up these shelves above a little side table in the informal dining area. I filled it with colorful knick-knacks that I bought at local stores and flea markets, and the bright items added a punch of color to the whole room!

Now for my tip of the day. I've painted a ton over the years and have learned many techniques to make the job easier. I don't ever tape anything, because I have a fairly steady hand and taping has never worked well for me. I've learned that a quality paint brush makes a big difference in detail work when painting. Take the example below...

Because I painted the ceiling white, I needed to have a sure hand as I painted the wall at the ceiling. There is also a small ledge on the underside of the soffit next to the cabinets that was difficult to reach and made painting the kitchen more challenging. {see arrows in the photo above} I generally don't skimp on paint brushes when I paint a difficult space. A higher quality brush makes the job much easier. This time I mistakenly bought a different brush than I normally buy, and I was so happy with the result. Most often I buy Purdy brushes which usually get the job done, but this time I bought a 1.5" Wooster Pro Thin Angle Sash (packaging looks similar to Purdy brushes) and the quality of the brush made the job much easier! The thin angle made getting into tight spots like those above the cabinets a breeze!

In a few minutes I'm going to tackle the family room. Most of the furniture is moved out of the room and it will get a couple of coats of "Baja" by Behr...

I'm looking forward to this project getting done, o I can do a little creating by the end of the week!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Building...

Earlier this summer my husband and I traveled with a small group of friends and family to Alaska. It was an amazing trip. I fell in love with the pristine beauty in this part of our country. {You can read more about our trip here and here.} We took about a kajillion pictures -- a million of which turned out fabulous. I chose thirty that I loved and made a book about our adventure...

I've decided this is a fabulous way to chronicle a trip or event. I love the fact that you can add some comments of your own with the photos. I made this book at Blurb, but there are many different online publishing companies. I love how Blurb allows you to have full page photos or collages.

{This is just an endorsement, not an advertisement -- I'm not getting compensated in any way.}

Our book is about 20 pages and was $33. I have a special cover on it and chose a premium paper for that price. I love everything about it. It reminds me of the special time we had with our wonderful friends and family in this magical place...

I've decided this year to make a book for each one of our grandchildren for his/her birthday. Each one will be unique and will feature them in a different way, but it will be about shared experiences we've had with them. Should make for some fun projects throughout the year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Birdie Bib...

It seems I'm obsessed with making baby bibs lately. I've analyzed this addictive behavior the last few days as I've painted (and painted and painted) the ceiling in our kitchen/nook/family room area. Painting gives you gobs of time for self examination.

{For example, I've also figured out why I haven't been able to stick to a diet the last couple of years... 1.) I like to eat. 2.) I don't like to diet. If anyone knows how to make a diet more fun than eating, please leave a comment below. Your remark might be the breakthrough I need to kick-start a diet for good!}

Anywho, I haven't had a lot of time for creating lately, and a bib is just about the quickest project one can ever produce, so I'm sure that's why I've been compelled to produce a myriad of baby bibs of late. Like the little Birdie Bib I posted on Monday, this one has the same adorable embroidered pattern. You can find the pattern and inspiration for this bib here at Soule Mama.

As you can see I chose to add a little ruffle on the bib this time...

I finished painting the ceilings yesterday and today I begin the kitchen walls. I'm excited to give my kitchen a little boost. 

Along with the diet suggestions, if any of you know a good online source for lighting fixtures, could you send  the information my way? Maybe a store that has some different or more original items. I'd like to purchase a new semi-flush mount ceiling fixture for my family room, so I'm interested in a good on-line source. Thanks! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bloomin' Tuesday...

We are finally getting a break in the heat in Colorado. For weeks we've been topping the thermometer around 100, but the forecasts say we will be at least 10 degrees cooler for the foreseeable future. I'm grateful. It's hard to keep a garden limping along at such high temperatures, and I can tell already that my plants are giving a little sigh of relief as they perk back up. I just came inside from taking this potpourri of photos. I love this time of the morning when there's a coolness to the air and the plants are just waking up...

I hope you're basking in some cooler temps as well!

 Linked to:
Bloomin' Tuesday @ Ms. Green Thumb Jeans
Garden Tuesday @ Sidewalk Shoes