Ok, so I don’t update very often. Shoot me. You’ve got to admit I was on a roll there the first of the year. But then the ADD kicked in and I’ve been off to the races ever since. On one of my latest romps around the internet, I stumbled upon the absolute, most fantastic, greatest-site-if-you-want-to-learn-I-mean-REALLY-learn-how-to-construct-a-handbag site. May I present to you HowToMakeADesignerHandbag.com! I’m sorry, but you need to forget about all those patterns available around the internet. Don’t waste your money. Get yourself beyond the market bag and those frustrating frame clutches. Plant yourself in front of this site to get the skinny on all the designer behind-the-stitch secrets this husband and wife team, Linda and Richard, are practically giving away. For full disclosure, my only affiliation with this site is that I jumped on their incredibly dirt cheap year membership after watching some of their free videos. Did I mention it’s a site full of videos showing the step-by-step process of constructing a designer handbag? Well, it is. It’s like being inside their heads as they develop their designs and overcome seemingly insurmountable design roadblocks. All I can say is “YA’LL NEED TO GET OVER TO HOWTOMAKEADESIGNERHANDBAG.COM and take your handbag making to the next level!
That’s all. Get over there. Forget my feeble first attempt at constructing a pattern. It’ll be here. Go get your knowledge on!
Well, last month I was all about the crochet and knit. I credit our multitude of snow storms here in Central Ohio for my new found crochet proficiency. As thankful as I am to have finally grasped the basics of crochet, this month it’s time to shift gears and get ready to garden. We’re still novices in the urban gardening thing. Between hubby and I it’s truly the blind leading the blind. But we spend copious amounts of time at our local garden center plying the employees for bits of garden wisdom. Each year I think we do just a little bit better. Who knows, by the time we’re ready to be put into the ground, we may have figured out how to get something edible out of the ground.
As I posted yesterday, I’ve got my heirloom seeds ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I’m waiting on baited breath now, praying they get here before St. Patty’s day. I’m so excited to have so many heirloom seeds to play with this year. I’ve fallen in love with Baker Creek and their commitment to non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented seeds. I’m jazzed that they refuse to buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis, and that they boycott all gene-altering companies. As I promised yesterday, I did look up Seminis. In 2005 Monsanto purchased Seminis, the largest developer of fruit and vegetable seeds in the world. Many of the seeds we buy at garden centers and nurseries, sold under the brands of various smaller seed companies, come from Seminis. ((http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-garden/2009/12/boycotting-monsanto-seminis-seeds.html)) Well, that’s an eye opener. Two companies I bought seeds from last year are on the “Owned by Seminis” list. Live and learn, right?
I’ve known, for quite some time, about Genetically Modified Organisms and how they’re altering our food supply. Think Frankenfoods. Think a salmon gene injected into a tomato to provide cold weather resistance. ((http://www.justmeans.com/What-if-USDA-didn-t-know-how-be-green-Part-I/10043.html)) Is it a fish tomato or a tomato fish? ((http://www.geneticengineering.net/atomatofishorafishtomato.htm)) I’m aware that here in the U.S. manufacturers do not have to list GMO on their packaging. U.S. soybean production is 95 percent dominated by genetically modified Round Up Ready soybeans. ((http://www.usagnet.com/story-national.php?Id=771&yr=2009)) So much for the health benefits of soy milk folks, unless it’s organic. In a much-cited study from 2000, the Grocery Manufacturers of America estimated that 70 percent of food in the U.S. contains genetically modified traits. ((http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_9716.cfm)) Just think what that percentage might be today? I also know that the main kingpin in all this genetic engineering of our food supply is Monsanto and their Roundup Ready seeds, pesticides and herbicides.
I pulled this from Monsanto’s site. I hope this doesn’t get me on someone’s black list. Won’t be the first I’m probably on.
The Roundup Ready® seeds contain in-plant tolerance to Roundup® agricultural herbicides, allowing growers to spray Roundup agricultural herbicides to kill the weeds without harming the crop. Roundup Ready varieties provide unsurpassed weed control, proven crop safety and maximum yield potential. Roundup Ready products are stacked with other traits such as Bollgard and YieldGard to add insect protection.
So if I understand this, and I don’t think I do, these are seeds that have been injected with “something” to protect them from a poison that would otherwise kill the plant? Then they’re zapped again to get rid of insects? I wonder how this is really impacting our ecosystem? How DID our ancestors survive without all this?
I’m not in any way an expert in any of this. My head nearly exploded just googling for the few articles to verify what I’m saying here. It’s just too much to comprehend. Here’s a couple videos I’ve found discussing what we’re up against when it comes to a behemoth like Monsanto. These are experts. I’m not. Whatever happened to working for the greater good of all? Can’t we all just get along and plant good clean food?
Last night I finally got around to ordering seeds for this year’s garden. I promised myself I wouldn’t wait till the last minute like last year (read that as the day plants are supposed to be in the ground). It’s pretty hard to start seedlings that late in the season and expect much success. To some it may seem a bit soon to start thinking about gardening, but we’ve learned that die-hard gardeners start right after Christmas. This year I ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - RareSeeds.com online. They’re a great family owned company and the catalog is coffee table quality. All their seeds are non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented. They do not buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis (ok, I don’t know who Seminis is, but I’ll look them up. I do know and understand the evils of Monstano though). They boycott all gene-altering companies. They work with a network of about 50 small farmers, gardeners and seed growers and offer over 1300 varieties of seeds from 70 countries. This is really my type of company. Even from the start, it was nonconformist. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds started in 1998 when 17 year old Jere Gettle sent out his first 550 seed catalogs, filling all orders himself in his bedroom. This year Baker Creek printed over 250,000 full color catalogs. It’s been called the “Vogue” of seed catalogs by enthusiastic customers. After reading nearly every description in this 120 page catalog, I ordered online last night (I’m too anxious to use the mail-in order form). I can’t tell you how many varieties are already sold out. The grow-your-own-food movement is really taking hold. Hip Hip Hooray!!!!
One of the greatest things about this catalog is the seed descriptions themselves. I’m learning things about seeds I just never knew. Every description is a tiny time capsule of history. Sit back and take in this description of a Granny Catrell German Red Tomato:
This meaty beefsteak-type tomato is named after Lettie Cantrell, who received seeds from a soldier returning from Germany during World War II. She grew this tomato in the hills of eastern Kentucky for many years. This was her favorite tomato and the only one she grew. Each year she saved seeds from the largest tomatoes, some of which reached 2 1/2 lbs. Our growers find it to be quite productive. Ahh! What a flavor! This variety was named best tasting tomato of the year at the 2006 Heirloom Garden Show in our taste testing contest.
And now I get to enjoy this perfect bit of history in my little urban garden in Central Ohio. I already feel such a connection!
The art of seed saving may be a dying art, but the Gettle family is certainly doing their part to revive it. I’m so glad I found them. And I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work with all these rare heirloom seeds this year. I think I’ll even try my hand at seed saving myself.
I don’t like to get too opinionated on my blog. It’s just a little to early to ruffle any feathers. Besides I’m not up for any cyber fighting. However, I read a tweet the other day cyber-begging for money for a new laptop. Not any laptop mind you, but specifically a Mac laptop because a cheaper option just wouldn’t do. After following little Layla Grace and her final fight with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma cancer, this tweet just rubbed me the wrong way. Now I know, live and let live. You’re probably saying, “it ain’t nunya bizness.” And, in fact, it isn’t. But the appeal for this laptop (remember gotta be a Mac), which was elaborated on the person’s site, was so lame I almost lost my lunch. Yes, I did click through the link in the tweet. I admit I was curious about someone begging for money for a personal laptop. I thought there must be a legitimate reason – some life threatening crisis that only a tricked out Mac Pro would ease. But alas, it was simply a case of two young lovers, separated by the Atlantic, not being able to Skype because of a failing computer. I’m no stranger to long distance relationships and the inherent difficulties in maintaining them. I’d like to think most people would be a little more industrious and creative when faced with an uncomfortable situation like this. After all, back in pre-historic times, circa 2005 A.D., we didn’t have free phone calls with video, much less free calls to another country. But I wax nostalgic. This is 2010. Things have changed. There are traditional land line phones and cell phones with international calling, but I suppose those costs are prohibitive compared to the cost of a Mac Pro. It appears searching for a library or a cyber cafe and settling for the instantaneous email is just too much of an uphill battle. Maybe beg for a netbook instead? And I know I cross the line here, but what about that arcane manner of communication called snail mail? Last I heard it still works. Now here’s the clincher on that. You have to actually sit down with pen and paper, compose your thoughts, write them down and put them in a mail box. Then, Oh God, you have to wait. Sometimes days, even weeks before you get a response. No instant gratification with a letter. How did people do that back in the day? Were lovers less passionate then? No, I think not. Consider for a moment, the anticipation, probably coupled with anxiety, a young girl must have experienced as she waited daily for the post man to deliver a letter from her beau fighting a war in some far off land. Can you imagine the immense pleasure, no utter rapture, that was experienced when she finally fondled that anticipated letter in her trembling hands, only moments away from sitting and reading her lover’s words? Wow, just imagine. Ok, so that was then, this now you say. It is the digital age. But will the world stop, will love fade for the lack of a Skype connection via Mac Pro? When the first line of communication fails is it really all that painful to explore the alternatives? Get used to what really is only a minor inconvenience? Wouldn’t it be better to leave the cyber begging for more worthy causes like helping a dying baby’s family with medical costs? Or sending relief to Haiti or Chili? We do not lack for serious life threatening causes that the power of twitter can help alleviate. Am I being too opinionated? What do you think? And if you do disagree with me, I’ve had my eye on that 27″ screen iMac, a 3000 square foot house on a hill, and a really cute Mercedes Roadster I just don’t think can I live without. Can I count on you to help me out?
Sometimes something happens, completely by chance, that alters the trajectory of our lives ever so slightly. That happened last night around 8 o’clock. I was skimming through tweets when I came across one imploring prayers for @LaylaGrace. I’m not sure if it was concern or curiosity, but I clicked on @LaylaGrace to see who she was. I just was not prepared for what awaited me at the other side of that click. Layla Grace is a beautiful 2 year old angel who has stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma cancer. For the past 10 months her mother and father have been blogging the incredible heart wrenching journey of their fight for their tiny daughter’s life at laylagrace.org.
Now I’ve never been 100% sold on twitter’s intrinsic value. I know information spreads through it like wildfire. The Iran crisis, the Haiti earthquake, now the Chili disaster. And this is all good. Being a techie, I use twitter along with Facebook more or less to stay in the “game.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m constantly coming in contact with people it would have been impossible to communicate with 5 years ago. I’ve found communities of like-minded people I like to hang out with. From a business and marketing standpoint, twitter is the place to be right now. However, it’s not and probably never will be my social touch stone.
But what’s been happening with little Layla Grace in the twitterverse is truly incredible. Last night when I saw that first tweet Layla’s followers were 25,000+. Right now it’s over 30,000 and climbing. Thirty thousand people, strangers, not like-minded at all, praying together for a little girl and her family that we’ll more than likely never know personally or meet beyond this thing called twitter. Yet combine that with her photolog on Flickr and Layla’s site at laylagrace.org, in 24 short hours I feel like I know this little girl and her family. The internet has helped share their journey with thousands. And here we are, united in a singular goal; praying for Layla and her family, and imploring others to pray with us, one Retweet at a time. More and more fund raisers are popping up. Mom businesses, Etsyians, individuals are all stepping up to the call to help raise money for Layla’s care. It reaffirms my belief in the goodness and generosity of people. And perhaps, just as important, I’ve finally found the intrinsic value in this thing called twitter. Please join us in praying for Layla and her family. We want a miracle, but time is short.
While doing the Thing A Day Challenge for February, I’ve run across a ton of beautiful crochet heart patterns – all for free. These are all first rate designs given freely by the creators. Thanks to each and every one of you for sharing so generously with the crafting community. Since I definitely want to keep track of all these fantastic patterns and tutorials, I thought I’d put them in one place for easy reference. Bookmarking didn’t seem sufficient since I wanted to share the designs and give a shout out to the designers. And of course, what better place to keep track of my life stuff than on my blog, right? Hope you enjoy my little round up of some fantastic crochet and knit designs from some really dynamic designers. As I’ve gotten absolutely obsessed with crocheting and knitting hearts and flowers, I’ll be continually adding to this round up, so bookmark it and subscribe to our rss feed. Stay tuned for a Crochet and Knit Flower Pattern Round Up!
Wanting to make some really small Valentine’s hearts, Julie Kundhi of julie-k whipped up this cute little pattern. Visit her etsy shop at kundhicreative where she’s presently hosting a Flowers for Haiti sale. Proceeds from all flower pins will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.
This free pattern is courtesy of Cocoa Cream’s Craft Closet. I know you just want to grab your nearest yarn and get started on these. They are just too lovely. And do stop by Cocoa Cream Crochet’s etsy shop for some more crochet pleasure.
I found that learning the Magic Ring was a great alternative to starting crochet in the round. Here’s an excellent video from KawaiiGurumi. Although she’s targeting Amigurumi artists, this tutorial works for anyone working in the round, and was by far the most clear that I found. I had my Magic Ring first time around. Thanks for sharing. P.S. If you’re interested in learning amigurumi crochet KawaiiGurumi has an entire Youtube channel on How to Amigurumi!
Coming to us from Bella Dia is this charming little (or big, who’s counting?) Heart Garland. Cassi Griffin has written a tutorial that is extremely detailed and pleasing to the eye with tons and tons of close up pictures. This tutorial was a breeze to follow. Recommended for beginners. This was one of the first hearts I was able to make without a hitch – no mistakes at all. Thanks, Cassi, for a marvelous tutorial! Oh and BTW, Cassie also makes the cutest one-of-a-kind little mushroom houses. You’ve got to take a peek!
This free pattern is an original from RoxyCraft. This one got me started on the Amigurumi craze. If you haven’t been bitten yet, check out Roxycraft’s collection of free patterns. These make up so quick and are so much fun. They’re absolutely addictive!
It’s really another Amigurumi heart, but I like to compare different patterns. Sometimes just a little twist in phrasing can help you understand a pattern so much better. This one comes from Sandra who creates limited edition or one-of-a-kind Pepika Dolls.
Mandy of Little Birdie Secrets teaches you how to crochet these little lovelies with embroidery floss in a great 4 minute video with assurances you’ll be making them in 2. Check out her site to see how she’s incorporated these hearts on cards and scrapbook pages as well as on baby accessories. She’s also got a how-to crochet a flower video that I’m eternally grateful for.
Thank you, Jill of Wool’s Happenin’ for sharing this cute little knit heart dishcloth. I think this cutey pie would brighten up any kitchen all year long, not just Valentine’s Day. While you’re knitting this up, don’t forget to congratulate Jill on following her passion and focusing full time on her business, Starstruck Cat Design, which offers one of a kind hand-crafted items. Good luck in all your endeavors, Jill!