Author Archives: jessica

Just Getting Warmed Up: DIY Inexpensive Base Layer for Kids

For the last few months, my preparedness focus has been on stocking our family with WARM winter clothing. We live in Utah, and we get our fair share of cold and snow. If you live in an area that is prone to cold temps, or if you plan on taking a trip somewhere that is, it’s a really great idea to be prepared. Our little kiddies are more at risk of developing hypothermia, so it’s important that we dress them to keep the heat in. One great way to do that is to dress in layers.

When layering, you want to start with material that will wick moisture away from your body, dry quickly, and have good insulating properties. The cotton thermal underwear that is carried everywhere will NOT cut it. As cotton absorbs moisture, it loses the ability to insulate well, whether that moisture be from snow, rain, or sweat. Wet cotton speed the loss of body heat. Which is great if it’s 95 degrees out. Not so great if you are stuck out in the cold for any length of time.

I found some great micro-fleece polyester thermal underwear in the women’s underwear section at Walmart of all places. All they had was cotton in the men’s section, so I bought my man a larger size of the women’s version. It works because they look gender neutral, as they are solid black, a basic shape, and base layers are meant to be fairly form-fitting under your other clothing. I was having a hard time finding anything but cotton for my little guy though, unless I spent a small fortune. That is, until I saw these, and had a stroke of genius.

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The material was right, 100% polyester fleece. Polyester is great because it doesn’t hold onto moisture like cotton. Instead of being absorbed and held, the moisture is wicked away from the skin and evaporates more quickly.

And they were cheap! This inexpensive outfit also came from Walmart. I think it was $12 or less to buy both of them.

Which brings me to this: It is HARD to cough up $$$ for clothes that your kids are going to outgrow in a blink, especially ones that are so seasonal! There are a few things that I have determined really help lessen the blow to our wallets. 1. Buy used. You can find great quality items that are lightly used for cheap! Yard sales, online classified sites, and thrift stores are great places to look. 2. Buy at the end of the current season for next season. When stores are clearing out their winter products, they’ll mark the price down. 3. Buy bigger sizes and just roll things up so that clothes can be used for more than one season. 4. Buy gender neutral and classic items so that they can be passed down to your other children.

On that note, this DIY is great because if you buy the outfit a couple of sizes larger than your child is currently in, it could potentially fit your kiddo for up to 3 winter seasons! I’ll show you what I mean in a minute.

The sweatshirt I plan on layering on top of a polyester shirt under his heavier coat, but the pants I wanted as a real “base” layer. They were a little bulky for that purpose, and I wanted a more snug fit so that he would be able to wear them under other pants. I thought about getting rid of the pockets but then I decided the storage might be a nice feature.

I’m a fairly inexperienced seamstress, but this really is EASY. I started out by putting the pants on my son inside out. I had him lay flat on the floor so that I could pin the pants where I wanted the new inseam to be.

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Cute little mannequin!

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I would recommend using straight pins, but the safety pins were what I had handy.

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I made the crotch area a little longer than he currently needs so that as he grows taller, the waist band wont ride too low. (In the meantime, I just flip the waist band over to lift the pants up the extra inch or two.) After pinning the whole thing I used a marker to mark where I wanted to cut. I left about 1/2 an inch as my seam allowance between my drawn line and the pins. My lines are obviously not perfect, nor is my pinning, and let’s be honest, neither was my sewing. But this is a VERY forgiving project.

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Then I cut away the extra fabric…

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I didn’t get any pics of these next steps, but I just sewed along the cut edges with a straight stitch about where the pins were, taking the pins out as I went. Make sure to backstitch at the end of your seams. After the straight seam, I actually zigzag stitched over the cut edge to increase the strength of the seam. Turn right-side out and ta-da!

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With the tighter fit, the pants bunch enough that even though they are long on him now, they don’t drag on the ground! And because the pants are somewhat stretchy, and the length has been reserved, he should be able to wear them for at least 2 more winters! Another bonus: The pants tuck right into his boots and stay there, instead of being a pain to tuck in as the originals would have been and will help keep the snow out of his boots!

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Is your family prepared for the weather (whatever that may be where you live)? Any great winter prep ideas you’d care to share?

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Get Prepped!

Prepping AKA emergency preparedness. Some people prep for the end of the world. Others prep for natural disaster, warfare, political unrest. Some prepare for epidemic, power outage, extreme weather, medical emergency, or job loss. Some prep simply because their religious or political leaders encourage it. Whether one or all of the above reasons appeal to your sense of urgency, prepping is a good idea. With even a basic understanding of history, it’s easy to see that disaster will strike…and you and your family could be the victims.

It’s easy to become complacent. I live in a region where major natural disasters are extremely rare. Many of us, myself included, have never known the fear of being marked as an immediate target by a specific and hate-filled enemy. And while there have been a few infectious disease scares over the past year,  most of us here in the U.S. have lived lives relatively shielded from serious contagions. I personally have never experienced life with long-term, or frequent, power outages, nor have I lived with fear in a place plagued by riots and looting. I haven’t been forced to leave my home to ensure my family’s safety. I haven’t ever been desperately hungry because food was not available. I’ve never had to filter, bleach, or boil my water to make it safe to drink.

But that could quickly change, and without warning.

History tells me that at least one of the above scenarios is extremely likely to happen in my life time. And who am I to ignore history?

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We are a Scouting family, and we believe in the motto: Be Prepared!  Part of that preparation is stocking up on necessary and useful items. Part is practicing skills that increase chances of survival and long term self sufficiency. But just as important as the first two parts is learning from the past, studying history, and as a family of faith, searching scripture and putting our trust in God.

Please, join us here at Wildflower Independence for prepping reminders and ideas, and join me and my family in readying ourselves for whatever may come our way. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, as well as any suggestions for future prepping posts!

Whatever prepping means to you, please, don’t wait until disaster is breaking down the door. It may already be knocking.

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Christmas 2014

We didn’t get a real tree this year as I would have liked. I love getting a permit to cut our own in the mountains, but this year we were trying to simplify as life was a little too hectic (moving into our new house, etc.). Hopefully we can get a fresh tree next year!

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Christmas morning!

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Cousins in Christmas jammies! My little guy went a less traditional route…dragons are Christmasy though right? Er…

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We had a great Christmas and it was so nice to spend time together. I hope you had a fantastic holiday and felt the love!

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Christmas Decor 2014

I’ve done Christmas decor for this family for the past few years, and they recently moved into a beautiful new home! This is just a peek at the front entry staircase. I designed and installed the garland, hung the stockings and “snow-flurried” the entry chandelier with customized snowflakes and crystals.

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chandelierThere were a LOT of snowflakes and crystals on that chandelier, but honestly due to the sheer size of it, I probably could have doubled it. Love it anyway, and loved the chance to embellish such a beautiful home!

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A Nightmarish Halloween 2014

Warning: Lot’s of grainy cell photos to follow!

One of our little guy’s favorite movies is The Nightmare Before Christmas. He has been singing the songs from that show almost as long as he has been able to talk. So we thought Nightmare inspired costumes would be a great choice for our family this Halloween. My costume was store bought plus a wig and accessories I already had, Little Man’s was store bought and then altered and customized, and Bryce’s was a hand sewn last minute creation. It took about 3 hours, and we finished his costume just as the festivities were starting. His costume was made based on this tutorial here.

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We went trick or treating, and Little Man LOVED it. He couldn’t (or wouldn’t) grasp the idea that he should only take one piece of candy, so despite us reminding him at nearly every door, he would smoothly collect candy in his pumpkin until the candy bowl was taken out of his reach. He probably ended up with double what all the other kids did. Ha!

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We ended with a Halloween tradition…party at Great Grandma and Grandpa’s house! Lot’s of yummy food (It was mexican this time) and the adults and teens spent the night terrifying trick-or-treaters in Grandma’s annual spook alley.

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Thanks Jess for taking this photo of the spook alley!

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Who would have guessed Sally and the Oogey Bogey Man were so cosy…

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We hope you had a spooky and fun Halloween!

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Autumn In Utah

We recently took a 4-wheeling trip up Hobble Creek Canyon. (These are just cell photos, and don’t do it justice, but we used what we had!)

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It was breathtaking! The yellow aspen trees contrasted the dark green pines so beautifully! A little chilly, but the views couldn’t be beat!

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We hiked up to the top of the hill for a great view of the valley. Below us you can see Mapleton, Spanish Fork and Springville Utah.

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When I get some spare time, I want to paint an aerial view of the valley to go in Bryce’s office.

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On the way down the mountain we saw a small flock of wild turkey!

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I’m glad we got at least one more ride in before the snow starts coming down. Usually Lyam comes along, but this ride was a “date night”. We’ve been enjoying the four wheelers all year, and we’ve taken some great hikes. What are some fun activities you like to do in the fall?

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Beets? Little Help Here?!

Can I just start out by saying, beets are drop-dead gorgeous! The colors are vivid, bright and deep. I love the red veining that runs through the leaves, the contrast is just beautiful. And golden beets have a beautiful orange, almost red glow…

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Now, that I’ve swooned over them a bit, I have a confession. I don’t have a lot of experience growing beets. And I could definitely use some advice. As far as I can remember, this is my second year attempting to grow them, and the first year I’ve ever grown the golden variety.

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For some reason the goldens were not nearly as hardy as my plain ol’ red variety (I think they were Detroit Dark Reds). Is this a normal occurance? I planted about the same number of reds and golds, and my reds came up pretty reliably, while only a couple of the golds held on long enough to even form a root! What’s up with that?!

They were in the same bed, and should have recieved close to the same amount of water, AND I think I even planted them at the same time!!

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Another question: They are beautiful this year, and I’ve really enjoyed using the tops as cooked greens with my swiss chard…

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But why are my beet roots so small? They are barely larger than hefty radishes!

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Does anyone out there have great advice for growing large rooted beets? And should I just expect the goldens to be less reliable than the standard red variety?

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Grandpa’s Garden

So, I told you in a previous post that you HAD to see my Grandpa’s tomatoes, but this post will show you how pathetic my garden really has been this year, because you are about to see some of the rewards and results of a true gardening MASTER.

This is my Grandpa. He’s approximately 6 feet tall. The plants that he’s standing next to are Super Fantastic Tomato plants. Yes, they are gigantic, and gorgeous, and loaded with tomatoes.

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He builds large round cages out of wire fencing to hold these babies up, and as you can see, UP is exactly where they have gone!  (You can see one of the cages on the left (below), as well as part of grandpa’s carrot bed, and small corners of his melon patch vines and blackberry bushes.)

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Grandpa plants them in his “Black Gold”, which I’ve been told is mostly composted leaves (A.K.A. leaf mold) from his deciduous trees that he collects and piles up each fall. He usually starts his tomatoes from seed early in the season, eventually moves them to his handmade cold frame (which is beautiful and should be the subject of another post), and then finally they make it into the garden when it’s warm enough. He plants them in wide, deep holes that he FILLS with “Black Gold”. He said that this year, he mulched with a little bit of horse manure on top around the holes. As you can see, his methods are working.

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You will also notice that Grandpa had to make his fence a bit higher with baling twine to keep the resident deer out.  They were after his tomatoes! Grandpa’s onions are beauties, too. He grows these from seed each year.

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He gave me some seed heads for my garden next season! And can I just draw attention to the absence of weeds in his garden!?

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Aren’t the seed heads pretty! Grandpa makes great fresh salsa out of these onions and tomatoes!

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Grandpa told me that to plant his carrot bed, he crushes the seed heads in his hand and then broadcasts them in the area he wants them. He then puts some “Black Gold” on top. I think he does the same thing with his onions.

Thanks Grandpa for letting me show off some of your awesome gardening skills! I wan’t to be like you when I grow up!!

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Berry Envy

So a few days ago, my Mom and I took Baby Boy on a walk. We walked over to Grandpa and Grandma’s house, but on our way there we saw this:

Big, red raspberries, loaded on canes!

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And we saw THIS:

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This neighbor’s garden usually looks tempting, but when the red currants look like that…just dripping off the branches…it’s hard walk by without staring! Truth be told, I’ve never tasted a red currant. My understanding is that they should mainly be used for jellies and so on, as they are tart. But imagine the jelly those glowing, red jewels would make! I REALLY want to plant some currant bushes, but I’ve held off because I’m not sure that we’ll live in our home long enough to see the results. Should I do it anyway? Is there anything your neighbors have planted in their yard that you wish you had in yours too?

 

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