Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Gift of Fun Dough!

Are you stumped for a quick and easy gift for preschoolers that they will actually enjoy? Homemade playdough is such a great gift and totally customizable. I recently found this recipe for playdough on To the Moon and Back that I absolutely LOVE! One nice thing about it is that it requires no cream of tartar, as most homemade playdough recipes do, just plain old vinegar. It also has great texture and is long-lasting, even when left out by distracted little ones. My preschooler would give it two thumbs up if he knew what that meant! It's also quick to make; one color batch takes me around 10 minutes to complete.

For my gift giving purposes today, I cut the recipe in half. This amount yields about 8 ounces of dough. I made three different colors, pink, violet, and teal, and split each color in half for two gift bags.

The ingredients are simple: flour, salt, vinegar, oil, water, food coloring, and glitter (optional). If you eat whole foods and only have high dollar or fresh ground flour, buy a bag a cheap white flour and salt for this recipe. I don't usually have vegetable oil on hand, but olive oil works just as well.

Knife tip of gel coloring.
I start by measuring the liquid ingredients into the pan. Then I dip my knife tip into the gel food coloring and scoop out a pea-sized blob (or so). Then I swirl that into the liquid ingredients. Don't worry if the final color is too light because you can always knead in some more color at the end. I like my colors to be vibrant, so I put in a good bit of coloring to start.

Next I sift in my flour (if the flour is lumpy it can leave white bits in the final dough--but sifting is a preference) and add the salt. Then I add in some glitter. For these I used several different glitters I had on hand, some regular and some superfine. This would also be the time to add any spices you might want to make a scented dough. I have made both apple pie and pumpkin pie scented dough and it is heavenly! I tried adding peppermint essential oil to the dough, but the scent did not last. If I ever figure out how to make a peppermint scented dough, I will be in playdough heaven. I have also replaced a small amount of the flour with cocoa powder to make chocolate scented dough--yum! And I have replaced the water with chai tea to make chai scented dough (with the addition of ground spices as well). It's totally customizable!

Put the pan on the stove on medium heat and stir continuously until it forms a sticky ball. See original recipe for details. Scrape the sticky ball onto a clean countertop and run water into your pan to get it clean for the next batch. Let the pan sit in the sink while you knead the ball into a lovely smooth, playable consistency. If the dough color isn't dark enough, just place a bit of gel coloring onto the dough. Fold it to the inside and knead the dough until the color in incorporated. This may stain your hands, but it will come off. Shape your dough into a pleasant shape (maybe a cube) for gift-giving, or dump it into a lidded container, or play immediately! Allow the dough to air out until completely cooled or the container will steam up and leave moisture on the dough.

Ways to play: Make pretend cookies, make balls and snakes, or just let them have at it with whatever toys are lying around. My little one loves to stick animals and pipe cleaners in the dough. He's also into making snowmen with unused birthday candle for arms. Whatever, they do with it will be fun.

This playdough would be great as a stocking stuffers or neighborhood, friends or family gifts. I am so thankful to the folks at To The Moon and Back for posting this treasure of a recipe.

Give the gift of FUN this year!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Sensory Box-- Cheap and Quick!

I am writing this now to the sweet sound of sifting rice. I have discovered during my teaching of a weekly home school preschool class that little ones LOVE sensory boxes! I never did these with my older two boys because they were preschoolers so long ago that it probably wasn't all over the Internet like it is now. Because we are on a break from co-op for the holidays, I almost didn't do a sensory box for Lil' D. Then today it occurred to me that a Christmas box would be fun. I really love the sensory boxes filled with natural objects, but today I wanted quick and easy, no foraging required!

Hand-in-hand we walked into the Dollar Tree. The last time we had been there was to find items for our Halloween Sensory Box. He was baffled that there were no skeletons to be found anywhere in the store! Once he had gotten past that issue he became enamored with the decorative Christmas gift boxes with lids. I was tempted to buy him some, but we pressed on to the goal.

Let me just say, my sensory boxes are usually the clear shoebox size. I am very frugal when it comes to fillers and I find the shoebox size to be plenty room for fun, and easy to store away. Because the box is smaller, I can buy fewer items. The first thing I chose was a box of battery operated LED globe lights. I knew this would be festive and unusual in a sensory box. I also found a package of wrapped gift ornaments, some educational linking shapes, and a Christmas Tree peg game. At the last second I grabbed a set of red plastic measuring cups from the kitchen aisle (because you can never have too many measuring cup, right?).

Once at home I decided to use white rice as my filler. I get a really big bag of rice from Aldi for under $2, so this is an economical box filler. Navy beans would also be nice here. I also gathered a few red pipe cleaners I had on hand and a clear plastic drinking straw from the cabinet.

I was going to bury the LED light box in the rice, but I was afraid that rice grains might get into the switch slot, so I taped the battery compartment to the back of the box. Then I just dumped the rest of my Dollar Tree treasures in.

So what do you do with it? Well, there's obviously free play. Little ones just love digging through the rice and examining the various objects. Some other ideas: Color sorting the gifts. Object sorting the peg game figures (D figured this one out on his own), counting different color groups, threading the linking shapes onto pipe cleaners or straw, or you can create a printed scavenger hunt card of the objects and numbers or colors that they can look for in the box. You could take photos of the objects for this card, or maybe clip-art, or simple drawings. Laminate it if possible and you can store it in the box.

All-in-all, this box cost me $5 (along with objects I had at home) and D will get several weeks use from it. The little gift ornaments will probably be ruined by the end, but everything else (including the rice) can be stored away in zip-lock bags and brought out for another time.

Where should you set it out? The best place is somewhere at your child's level, like a play table. If you already have an "invitation to play" station, then that's great. If you are like me, and do not, then you might have to hunt down a suitable spot. We usually have ours on the kitchen peninsula (where he stands on a long bench) so that we can converse while he plays and I work. Today I purchased lumber to build him his own table. I hope I can finish it before Christmas!

Glowing Lights

There are only about a million other ideas and objects that could be used for a Christmas box, but I thought I'd share this easy one in case you are making a trip to the Dollar Tree and are looking for some easy, low-cost preschool entertainment for the busy holiday season. Happy box making!

Word of Caution: As always, sensory boxes should be used with your discretion and supervision. You know what types of things your child will be able to play with without difficulty. Always be aware of choking hazards, etc. Spend some time exploring the box with your young child and then put it away where they cannot reach it. If your child puts everything in his mouth, I wouldn't recommend this type of sensory box.  If your child has never played with a sensory box, time spent together in it will be very beneficial. This type of sensory box is perfect for my 3 1/2 year old, but may not be for yours.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Whole Foods Journey Continues

Lacto-Fermented Apple Chutney
Well, I'm not even sure how long it has been since I've posted. These summer  months have flown by without my accomplishing even half of what I imagined I might, and could have, done. Instead, I became totally engrossed in this quest to improve my family's diet and even now am scrambling for a sense of organization in this area with school fast approaching. If you have not attempted eating only "outside of the box," meaning no processed foods, you cannot imagine the panic and frustration when your toddler repeatedly comes to you asking for cookies and chips (and wandering to the pantry wondering why they are no longer there). Well, that alone is enough to convince me that I am doing the right thing by changing the way we eat. But it is SO hard!

Aside from the bigger picture of learning to eat new things, there are all kinds of smaller goals to accomplish. Learning to bake bread, well, learning to make almost everything! I've always considered myself a homemade kind of person, but you never realize how much you come to depend on convenience foods until they are no longer there.

So far, I've had many successes, but also many failures. I haven't yet made what I would consider a good loaf of sandwich bread, and I can't make sourdough english muffins to save my life (but I do have a living starter on my counter which I feed diligently every day). I have, however, made some lovely light sandwich buns, homemade breakfast cereal, and lacto-fermented pickles (what?). The things I have made and failed to make are too numerous to list.

The challenge of eating whole foods comes in three parts: learning to eat differently, learning to cook differently (and a lot more), and making it work with your budget. The first requires a desire and an openness, the second requires time and lots of patience (and a thick skin), and the third requires diligence.

It's amazing how quickly I went from balking at the $3 expensive eggs in the grocery store to not batting an eye at $4 for local eggs and $7 for raw milk. And don't think you can pop out for a pound of grass-fed beef for anywhere close to a grocery store price. BUT...It is doable. We eat less, but better quality meat, and because we aren't buying all the processed convenience foods, there is a little extra money for all the good stuff!

I started out this mission with a vague idea of what it meant to eat whole foods. I had a set of rules and a lot to go by on the Internet. It wasn't long before I found myself swimming in the Nourishing Traditions pool, which is an even greater challenge than just whole foods. Everything requires forethought and planning. Because grains must be soaked or sprouted, there are no impromptu cookies or brownies, and because unrefined sugars are so much more expensive than refined sugar, cookies and brownies are fewer and far between (which is probably a good thing). I have also discovered the joys of lacto-fermentation. I will not even attempt to explain what that is about because it falls under the realm of "sciency stuff." I read the explanation and say to myself, "That makes sense," and then promptly forget it. I have successfully made pickles by this method and currently have ketchup and 5-spice apple chutney in the works. It's amazing to actually see the bubbling, fermenting going on in those jars!

It has been a crazy couple of months and I have purchased things I never thought I'd own, like a grain mill and a food dehydrator. I have learned that grain-free usually means expensive, and that it is okay to fail now and then. I have also learned from several other bloggers that food is not my god, and that eating a certain way should not become an idol (and it easily can). I have also learned that my family is remarkably flexible (or they just really love me alot) and when I think of the craziness of it all (even done for our own good) I don't see how I could ever be mad at any of them after how well they have stood up under this strange invasion of weird foods.

Today my teenager was following a recipe for raw almond butter truffles and he said, "I've never even heard of half of these ingredients." But he didn't say it in a bad way!

Friday, July 6, 2012

What I need to be perfectly happy in my whole foods lifestyle...

First, I need a grain mill, and I am working on that. They are SO expensive! I was hoping to find a used one, but so far no luck. I found one on Ebay, but so did some other people. It's kind of hard to shop on Ebay when you are non-competitive and on a budget! I also need some canning equipment, and a large freezer, and maybe some bread baking lessons.

Also, and take it with a grain of salt, I need some laying hens, a couple of dairy cows, and a small farm for a garden. Is that too much to ask? If you knew me at all, you would laugh, because surely I am joking, right?

For most of my adult life I have lived sedately suburban. As a child, the wild places were my playground and I romped endlessly and heedless of danger through unknown parts on imaginary adventures. I didn't stomp loudly on dedicated pathways scanning the perimeter for snakes or live in fear of poisonous spiders lurking...well, everywhere.

During four of my elementary years I had the privilege of living in a German village while my father was stationed in Germany with the Air Force. I loved it. We were immersed in the village life, farm life, living in community with others. I spent much time on a particular farm where we watched and helped in the birthing of calves, had warm fresh milk squirted into our mouths, and enjoyed the foods and benefits of farm living. I will say that the chickens scared me to death. Even to this day I would probably rather birth a calf than collect eggs from chickens.

Then we moved back to America and I had to become normal again (I found that my years in Germany had made me peculiar in ways that did not aid me in "fitting in"). For years I secretly held onto the dream of owning a small farm (on and off into my twenties). I thought that one day I would get married, and contrary to military life, we would settle down and live somewhere forever and forever. I did get married, and then life with Corporate America began. It wasn't even ladder-climbing on our part, just being shoved around from place to place because that's what the companies wanted. The Lord had prepared me well for this lifestyle, but this wasn't what I signed up for!

Somewhere along the way, my favorite way to enjoy nature became looking through the window, or at the least, a screened-in porch. In fact, at one point in time, my greatest desire was to have a patio home in a manicured and fenced neighborhood (because no snakes would live there). I think it was having children. Suddenly, everything I loved about the outdoors was a danger to my child. Wild things are everywhere! Snakes, spiders, ticks, leeches, not to mention the bigger things--why we aren't safe unless we're inside! I am still coming to terms with those fears.

But...I find myself more and more enamored with idea of having a big enough piece of land to actually do something with, on which to love and nurture and bring forth fruit, and on which to teach my children to do the same. It is hard for me not to be jealous of some of my favorite bloggers and their picturesque homesteads, or even just friends of mine with the space for a garden. But this is where God has put me. Who is to say that if I did get the desires of my heart (and all the work that goes with it) that I wouldn't go screaming into the house at my first run-in with the wildlife I find so terrifying and give up on it forever? I literally scream when I find a tick on myself!

So I guess I'm back to baby steps. Maybe some day I will have a mini-farm and learn to live at peace with God's scarier creatures. But for now I will concentrate on getting a grain mill and shop at the farmers' market--can't wait until Saturday!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Made Yogurt!

Yes, I did! I made yogurt in my crockpot. My slow cooker has never been a great friend to me because it seems there are so few meals our family enjoys out of the crockpot. For the yogurt I used the method on A Year of Slow Cooking blog. I followed it exactly even though my crockpot is seven quarts (crazy big) and she did hers in a 3-qt. I was checking it at 11:30pm, at the end of the 8 hour final wait, and was pleasantly surprised by a creamy, mild tasting yogurt. I knew I would want it thicker so I strained it through coffee filters in colanders in the fridge overnight. This morning I had a nice thick yogurt, but half the amount. I am going to save some of the whey for some recipes in my Is Your Flour Wet? book. I am excited about this triumph because I actually like this yogurt better than the tangy store-bought yogurt. Today I bought some cheesecloth to properly strain the next batch.

So thick on the back of the spoon!
This morning I mixed a little organic strawberry preserves and some honey into it and it was so delicious! For the boys I even threw in some fresh strawberries. Along with our yogurt we enjoyed Whole Wheat Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones. The recipe is actually for blueberries, but we had strawberries. I brushed the tops of the scones with a little milk and sprinkled some demerara crystals on for looks. We found the scones to be a little under sweetened, but I don't know if that is because the over sweetness we are used to in almost everything we eat from the store, or because it really needed a little more sugar. I think this recipe looks great and hope to try it another day. Speaking of sugar, this morning I drank my coffee with just half n half and no sugar, and I liked it! That is something for me. I went from those terrible-for-you flavored creamers to half n' half and a bunch of sugar, and sugar! Yay me. Now if I can just make it stick...

My whole wheat bread came out okay yesterday. The risen loaves actually looked better than the baked loaves. They tasted good, but the texture wasn't right for sandwiches. I'm hoping to find a veteran bread maker to mentor me into the perfect loaf of bread.

I also made some whole wheat chocolate chip cookies this week. They were actually really good. I'm trying this recipe next. I went to Whole Foods today and bought some Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and some Spelt--new adventures!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Adapting to Whole Foods Eating

I am trying to spend LESS time on the computer reading about things to do and more time actually doing those things, but it's hard when you come across yet another blog full of great stuff that might disappear any moment if you don't go through all the archives right away! Anyway, my new favorite blog is Before I discovered it I was already leaning in this direction. While browsing the cookbook shelves at the bookstore I ran across the book Nourishing Traditions. I only had the time to peruse the table of contents and a few interesting bits of the text, and despite the fact that it was all completely foreign to me, the wheels began to turn. Then I began to reflect on the astounding number of potential health issues already evident in both sides of our family. Everyone knows that so many of these things can be prevented by just eating better and taking care of our bodies, but which of the thousands of diet lifestyles is the right one? There has to be a better way than lifelong deprivation of foods that I love, forcefeeding of artifical tasting protein supplements, and consumption of artificial sweeteners to fool myself that I am actually still getting treats. One of my biggest pet peeves is the overflowing grocery store aisles trying to sell me every conceivable product doctored up to meet the latest fad diet or nutritional super food. Obviously it isn't working!

This attitude began years ago when I read the book Thin Within, which isn't what it sounds like. It is a grace based approach to weight loss, wherein it teaches you to listen to your body's own hunger cues to eat to satisfaction and not to fullness/stuffed. The book, In Defense of Food, which I am currently reading also addresses this. One of the first pieces of advice in Thin Within is to throw out all the diet foods--Yay! Since then, my mantra to my children has always been, "All things in moderation." I successfully lost a lot of weight with this method and ate what I wanted. Despite being thin, I didn't always listen to my body's cues about what to eat. My obnoxious sweet tooth wanted a small helping of something that would bring my tastebuds momentary pleasure, when the rest of my body cried out for something more healthful and substantial. Then I got pregnant and hunger cues no longer played any part in my food choices and everything was topsy turvey again!

Long story short, I recently came to realize that while I can listen to my own hunger cues and make good portion choices for myself, the only way to make a positive change for my whole family (one that my children can take away with them), is to change the foods we eat. So while all this is running around in my head, I came across 100 Days of Real Food.

I'm taking things in baby steps. We had already started getting a weekly produce basket, off of which I base all of our meals for the week. This forces me to incorporated vegetables into our diet that normally would never cross our threshold. I am working on incorporating whole wheat a little at a time in my baking. This week I bought my first piece of grass-fed beef at the farmers' market. Eliminating processed foods from my diet is not as difficult as eliminating it from the kids' diets. They like snacks. In fact, I used to think it was a successful grocery trip if I had gotten a good deal on lots of snacks. So today I am sharing one recipe solution for Little Guy, a replacement for animal crackers, and one recipe for any everyday breakfast food, Whole Grain Blender Pancakes.

This cookie recipe comes from The Cilantropist blog and I just tweaked it a little. I didn't have any tiny animal cutters and I wanted them to be small like animal crackers. I had originally thought to make them alphabet cookies, but my alphabet cutters were too big. I settled on tiny stars. I followed the recipe pretty much except I substituted oat flour for the flax seed because I didn't have any, and I think they came out great. It seemed a little tedious with the refrigerating and the freezing, but the result is a nicely flavored crisp cookie, perfect to give to little ones (or bigger ones). I'm thinking I could make this dough a head and freeze it for busy weeks. One batch filled a large chinese takeout container--plenty for a week. Here is my saved version of the recipe with the changes I made and without the specifics on using animal cookie cutters.

Little Guy’s Cookies
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup All-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed* (oat flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

* If you don't have ground flaxseed, you can grind flax in a spice grinder, or you could substitute finely ground nuts

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar for about 2-3 minutes, then add the egg and vanilla extract and continue to mix. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients (flour mixture) in two additions, and then mix until the flour is just incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball; flatten the dough ball into a 1-inch thick disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner . Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up for a few minutes; then roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin or starts to crack, just dust the top of the dough with a little flour.

Cut out cookies using whatever small bite-sized cutters you have. Working quickly and carefully, use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheet. You don't want the dough to get too warm and stick, but the cookies are also delicate and can break easily. (Squeeze together any dough scraps and put them back in the fridge to re-roll for your next cookie batch.)

Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 30-40 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes; then bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes, or until the edges are just lightly golden and cookie is slightly puffed. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to allow cookies to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 1 week.
Other flavor ideas: Add cocoa to the dough, cinnamon
This second recipe comes from a free e-book called Is Your Flour Wet? from I used yogurt and brown rice. I was out of vanilla and used almond extract instead. I also added about 1/8-1/4 cup whole wheat flour to thicken the batter to pancake consistency. These are not your typical thick, suck the moisture out of your mouth, cakey pancakes. These are hearty, flavorful, and moist. We ate them with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.

Whole Grain Pancakes

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 cup cultured dairy (buttermilk, yogurt or kefir)
1/2 cup uncooked oats (rolled or whole)
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice (or try buckwheat, millet, barley, spelt, kamut, or any other whole, raw grain)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Other add ins: pureed pumpkin, squash or sweet potato with warming spices; ripe bananas and cinnamon; applesauce; nuts

Mix oil, dairy, oats and rice or other grain in blender at high speed for three minutes: Keep cover on blender and leave out overnight Just before baking, add remaining ingredients and reblend for 3 more minutes. This will be a thin batter, but you can adjust the consistency as needed by adding flour or liquid.
For a good long while I was in a cooking rut. I was really dreading dinner time and would think of all kinds of excuses to avoid or delay it. More and more I find myself not only excited about being in the kitchen, but not wanted to leave to do other things! So far, none of our whole food experiments have been terrible, and we are adjusting. Like I said, baby steps, we enjoy the occasional soda with pizza night, and I'm not super strict about eating out nights, except almost no fast food (still love Chickfila).

Last night I started a sourdough starter and have discovered that this can be used to make all kinds of baked goods, not just bread! Today I will try a whole wheat sandwhich bread recipe, and I hope to make my own yogurt in a crock pot soon (all my friends are doing it)! At any rate, I'm enjoying this forage into the world of whole foods and can't wait to see where the journey takes me!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sewing Cloth Training Pants-- A Pattern Review (Of Sorts)

I knew as soon as I started sewing cloth diapers that I would be just as excited to sew cloth trainers when the time came--always something new! Normally our boys don't even look at the potty until three, but Little Guy is completely aware of his pee-pee and will tell me immediately afterwards. He tinkles ALOT, so lately I'm changing diapers ALOT! I thought to myself this week, "Why waste a big fat diaper on one wetting?" Aha--He needs trainers!

I did a little research on patterns for cloth trainers. There isn't a whole lot to choose from. I piddled around with a few freebies I found, and then decided I just wanted to buy a pattern. After looking them over, I decided I wanted the style that has a separate center panel like boys undies because I would be more likely to use PUL scraps than if the PUL covered the whole outer. I briefly had my heart set on the Tinkle Time Trainer Pattern , but I kept looking for a few days. I came across the Bella Bum Big Boy Trainers Pattern on Etsy and decided to go for that one. I liked how many options there are for the stages of potty training. They also have a girls' version. You never know until you actually look at and use the pattern how much you'll like it, so I held my breathe while I was waiting for the email with the download (which was only a couple hours). Verdict: I like it. The pattern is nicely organized and nothing is left unexplained (that I noticed). The pattern even explains how to measure for and choose the correct size, which is always helpful.

Let me say this, I would save myself a lot of "OOPS" if I would just read and follow instructions. But I have issues with this! After you've sewn a hundred different diaper patterns you tend to think, "I've got it down." Trouble is, not all patterns work the same, or why would there be different patterns! I made a couple of boo-boos but was able to make it come together nicely in the end. My biggest mistake was not clearly paying attention to the instructions on measuring the Fold-over Elastic. I ended up piecing my elastic after some misinformed cuts, and I never waste FOE! Oh, and I also forgot to prewash the FOE, which I might have ignored anyway because I was so eager to try the pattern. In the end, the back side pieces came out a little wider than the front side pieces and the snapping ends didn't line up exactly. I was later able to determine that this was my error in cutting out the pattern. I had chosen the Stage 1 style but cut out the stage 3 pattern (which basically just includes seam allowances because you don't use snaps on those edges), and this made the widths not line up correctly. When I was trying to figure it out I emailed the pattern maker and got a quick response from them, although I ended up figuring out my mistake as I was getting ready to take photos to send them for analysis. An "AHA" moment.

The assembly is pretty basic. You start with your soaker pad. I didn't make mine exactly like theirs with soaker layers and a booster layer because I was using two edge pieces of a prefold diaper sandwiched between a good diaper flannel and a repurposed white undershirt. I just zig-zagged around the prefold layers to keep them in place in the soaker, and serged around the outer layers' edges. The prefold layer is a little stiffer than I would prefer, but I have a bunch that I want to use up.

For the center outer layer I used some of a PUL remnant I bought at JOANN'S that was really too short for most diapers, but great for this. For the stretchy side wings I used a pique knit polo shirt that Hubby had thrown in the repurpose pile. For the inner layer I used the repurposed white undershirt. And I happened to have a piece of white FOE for binding that had been slightly abused and torn off of another project. The pattern recommends twill tape to stabilize the stretchy wing edges where the snaps go, and all I had was black, but it turns to the inside anyway.

The pattern actually suggests using non-absorbent stretchy knits for the inside and wings to avoid wicking, but I am big into repurposing, so we just make do. Besides, If I'm going to be changing him after every little tinkle, wicking shouldn't be an issue! Most of the time I don't even put a waterproof cover on him at home when it's warm. I love how the soaker is only attached at the front and back for faster drying.

So, aside from a few deviations, which I can't seem to help doing, I followed the pattern and was able to complete a pair in a couple hours (printing pattern, measuring for size, cutting pattern, cutting fabrics, serging soaker, sewing body). Of course I had to put them on him immediately to see how they fit and I was very happy. I did notice when I took them off later that there were some little elastic marks on his thighs, so we will size up the elastic next time!

If you are looking for a trainers pattern, I would definitely recommend this one. If you are new to sewing, some challenges might be working with PUL and FOE--but if I can do it, SEW can you!