Call to Action!

The CPSC & CPSIA have passed a new law to go into full effect February 10th 2009 requiring extensive testing for hazardous chemicals on all items manufactured that are intended for use by children. This sounds like a good idea on the surface. I mean, with all of the lead paint recalls and scary stuff coming out of China, who’s not for stricter regulation and more rigorous testing? When it comes to children, you can’t be too safe. Or can you?

The problem with this law is that the testing is required to be done by the manufacturer, and no exemption or allowance is included for size of business. The tests we’re talking about can cost up to $5,000 with the average being around $500. And they need to be performed on every component of every item produced. Even large businesses are struggling to meet these new testing requirements, but small businesses and work at home moms don’t stand a chance. Moms that sew boutique children’s clothing in their homes, dads that make wooden toys, and small manufacturers would be required to test every button, every spool of thread, every bolt of cloth, every can of paint that is used in the production of any product intended for children. At $500 a pop, this puts most of us out of business.

Not only does this include small businesses and work at home parents, but the re-sale of children’s items are subject to the same testing requirements. In addition to mandatory testing, the law states that any children’s items produced before Feb. 10, 2009 that have not been tested will not be able to be sold. To sell the like new Christmas jumper that your daughter only wore once without complying with the mandatory testing would be considered a felony punishable by thousands of dollars in fines and jail time. Toy stores like Larson’s and Sprout Soup will have thousands of dollars of unsellable inventory just sitting in their stock rooms.

The law extends even to foreign countries who wish to export items to the United States. If they don’t comply with the testing, the US won’t let the items in. In light of this, many terrific companies of wonderful, quality children’s toys and clothing are going to stop shipping to the US. They just can’t afford to. And don’t think that a law like this could never be passed in the US. It already has. The best we can hope for now is to get an amendment to either provide exemption based on business size, or to put the burden of testing on the raw materials manufacturers. Require the cloth manufacturer to test, and then the sewing mamas can buy already tested/approved materials to work with.

Feb. 10, 2009 is being referred to as “National Bankruptcy Day” by many businesses and manufacturers. Please help us by making your voice heard!

Sign the petition:

The Handmade Toy Alliance has provided a sample letter and listed contact info for your Congress Person and Senators:

National Bankruptcy Day Site:

Write to man who sponsored this bill and send him an item of yours that will be illegal to sell after Feb 9th, 2009 in protest.

Bobby L. Rush (D)
Washington Office
2416 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
phone: 202-225-4372
fax: 202-226-0333


When I decided I wanted to make a real gingerbread house this year, this is what I had in mind. Something beautifully elaborate and detailed, down to the little candy candles in the windows and a snowy landscape that Santa himself would be jealous of. Well I looked a pictures and got ideas and recipes. I went to the grocery and got decorators icing, toothpicks, and more different kinds of candy than anyone could actually put on one gingerbread house. You should have seen Owen’s eyes as I loaded up that shopping cart. I don’t think he’s seen that much candy in one place in his three years on this earth. I’m sure he thought mom was off her rocker, but who was he to question his good fortune?

Ever frugal, I cut my templates from empty cereal boxes. I mixed my ginger bread, rolled and cut all of my pieces. They looked surprisingly good. Here is the recipe I used for the gingerbread:

1 C butter, softened
1 3/4 C packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp dark molasses
1 1/4 C granulated sugar
6 eggs
6 C all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice

1)Cream butter and sugars. Stir in eggs and molasses
2)Sift all dry ingredients together separately
3)Mix dry ingredients into wet until just combined, don’t over mix
4)Knead dough on floured surface until completely combined
5)Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour
6)Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut template pieces
7)Bake on greased cookie sheet for 15 min at 325*, cool completely

I cut windows into the gingerbread when it was hot out of the oven. When all the pieces were cool, I put crushed butterscotch into the window pieces and baked them at 350* for about another 5 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet. Here’s the window pieces with the crushed butterscotch candy:

And the windows once they were melted:
When everything was completely cool and ready to assemble I mixed up a batch of royal icing. I wanted most of the house to be edible, so I just used this for the construction, and used a butter cream for the rest of the decorating. Here’s the royal icing recipe, and be warned, this stuff dries like cement, so work quickly and clean up as you go.

1 lb powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
3 egg whites

Beat slowly until stiff peaks form

And the butter cream recipe:

1/2 C white shortening*
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp clear vanilla*
1/4 tsp almond extract*
3-4 Tbsp milk or hot water

Beat shortening and flavoring for a minute, then slowly add half of the sugar, mixing well. Add half of the milk or water and mix well. Add the rest of the sugar and just enough water for the desired consistency, either spreading or piping.

*I used butter and regular vanilla, so my butter cream came out off white. I don’t mind, I think it’s pretty, and I hate Crisco, so there you go. I also left out the almond extract as I didn’t have any, and I still think my icing tasted pretty good.

So after assembly and decoration (and barely making a dent in all the candy I bought to make this thing) Here is the final product!

Not quite magazine cover worthy, but not bad for my first try.

WallabyBags and Rosie Cheeks

So here an entire week has passed and I have barely mentioned what it is that I do. Well, other than mother, cook, clean, sew, can, and thriftshop. I have a shop on Etsy with recycled wool longies and diaper covers, and WallabyBags. The brand name for my longies is “Rosie Cheeks”, and, well, they kind of speak for them selves.

I also do wrap style Velcro closure diaper covers.

Wool makes such a great diaper cover. It’s anti microbial so it doesn’t need washed after every wear. Just air it out between uses and the lanolin in the wool naturally neutralizes odors. It allows air to circulate to baby’s bum, so hit helps cut down on diaper rash, and it is a natural fiber, which many moms like to keep next to their baby’s skin.

I also designed and produce the patent-pending WallabyBags. In our home we have switched to reusable almost everything over the past couple of years. We use cloth diapers, towels, shopping bags and the thought of cloth tp is playing in the back of my mind. My husband might not go for that though. But we still went through a lot of plastic baggies. I pack my husbands lunch every day, and several days a week the boys and I are out around lunch time and I try to pack ours as well. I knew there had to be a better way. And thus was born the WallabyBag. They’re laminated on the inside with polyurethane so they’re water proof and keep your sandwich fresh. They fold over the top like the old school sandwich baggies to keep snacks contained with out Velcro to catch and hold crumbs, and they have a flat bottom to stand on their own for easy snacking. I put everything from peach slices to cheerios in these. I use them in the fridge to store cheese or cut veggies. My aunt had me make her several large ones and she uses them to store washed and cut greens for salad. And the best part? They’re machine washable and dryable.

Thanks for taking a minute to check out my stuff. Hope you like it!

Sweater: Deconstructed

And then reconstructed to fit much better.

I get 99% of clothes for myself and the boys at the thrift store. I love my thrift store. I have so many good things to say about thrift shopping that it deserves it’s own post. Soon. But today we’re talking about a sweater.

It’s a beautiful sweater. The colors are so earthy and warm, perfect for fall. I love the rolled neck line. I hate the fit. I can never try things on at thrift stores because I always have a baby on my back and a preschooler in the cart and honestly, for $.50 I can afford for a few things to not fit quite right. Usually things that don’t fit get turned around and immediately re-donated, but I thought this sweater deserved one last chance. It’s a size Large, and I need it to be about a medium. I had already taken in the side seams by about two inches, but it fit very poorly in the shoulders. It really needed to be taken apart and overhauled. So here is what I did:

First I took out the serging from the previous attempt at taking in the sweater. Then I created a new arm scye about an inch inside the old one.

Next I trimmed the excess from the sleeve. Here are all my pieces once they’ve been cut down to size:

I also opened the sleeve about half way down the arm. The sweater was baggy under the arm too so I made the new arm scye a little smaller. When this is sewn up it will blend gently into the rest of the arm. Then I opened the sweater flat, and pinned the sleeve to the shoulder, right sides together.

For most projects that use the serger, I don’t bother to sew before I serge. It’s an extra step and I have very little patients. But for a project like this I do sew first. That way I can try it on before I serge. A single sewing machine seam is a lot easier to rip out then a serged seam if for some reason it’s not quite right.

I tried it on at this point, to make sure the shoulder seams were in the right place. You want this seam serged before you sew up the side seam and underarm, so better to make sure it fits now. Once you’re sure the seams fall nicely, go ahead and serge or zigzag stitch this seam.

Next you’ll sew and then serge the side seams. Start at the hem and sew toward the armpit. Once to the point where the body meets the sleeve, line up your seams and sew on into the arm seam. Side seam and under arm seam are done in one long seam. Again you may want to try it on before you go back and serge this seam.

To finish your seams, thread all of your loose threads through a large eye needle and thread back through the first half inch of serging.

And you’re done!!

Keeping Warm

Brrrr! The weather here has taken a sudden turn for frigid, and my hands are cold. I hate cold hands. What to do? Ah yes, make mittens! But I hate mittens. And I don’t have the confidence in my knitting yet to attempt honest to goodness gloves, plus all I have in my yarn stash is worsted, and that would make a pretty bulky glove. The solution? Fingerless mittens!

I used the Evangeline pattern available on Ravelry. I love the cables in this pattern. Since my baby has the chicken pox and I can’t really leave the house, I raided my yarn stash for some suitable wool. This is either Payton’s or Lion brand wool, I don’t remember. It was almost a soaker, but got frogged due to being short a few yards to finish the project. And yes, I discovered this when I was just a few rows away from being done. Since the yarn came from my stash, I am considering these gloves essentially free. I love free stuff. So now it’s fingerless mittens for me. This project knitted up in just two days, which is pretty fast for me. Winter, here I come!