Kids silk flower project

Living in Northern New England, we have our fair share of the cold winter season. There comes a point, particularly when it's been a very cold, snowy, wet, or all of the above winter, when we are all dreaming of colors and flowers and spring. On a particularly snowy snow day I had to stop at our local Dollar Store for some items. While I was in there I saw those foam squares used for floral arrangements, and the silk flower isle. Inspiration struck and I bought about six different flowers and a package of the foam.
My girls are all about crafts so I was greeted with much enthusiasm when I arrived home. Both girls wanted to make flower arrangements for their teachers.
I used my wire cutters to cut their chiice of flowers to their specified lengths, and let them do their thing! After they had poked their flowers into the foam  just how they wanted, I took my glue gun and put a drop on the flower stems to help them stay down.

We choose to use some wide strips of tulle to wrap around and hide the foam. I used the glue gun to attach it. But I think it would be really fun to precut the foam to fit inside a small flower pot before making the arrangements. Then you could tie a pretty ribbon or tulle bow around the pots. We will certainly try this craft again soon. The teachers were so happy to have a little color in the classrooms that day and the girls both felt very crafty indeed

What else do I use castile soap for

I know I've mentioned castile soap, and how I've only used it to make my laundry soap so far. But I have been very interested in using it more. So this isn't the most exciting DIY project, but I'm really happy about this hand soap. I work in a healthcare setting, and if I didn't wash my hands like a crazy person before I came here, I certainly do now! You know what that means for your hands, right? You know...dry, cracked, painful. No matter what soap I buy, its not pretty. There isn't enough hand creams in the world to combat the dryness that comes with all that soap. But now, I don't need them!

I saved a foaming hand soap dispenser for my first experiment with using castille soap as hand wash. But I did end up buying another so that I could have a bottle with me at work as well. You can find lots of them on Amazon, or at

I poured a quarter cup of Dr. Bronner's all-in-one castile soap (I used Lavender for the one at home, Peppermint for the one at work.) and filled the rest of the bottle with distilled water. (its really important not to use tap water, bacteria will grow in there before you can say "I love this hand soap!") I shook the mixture up really well and that was it.

The castile soap, I found out, has natural glycerin in it, which is a great product for helping lock in moisture. After using this at home and at work for a week I can promise you that your hands will not fill like sandpaper anymore from too much washing! You might even save money on hand creams since you won't be drowning your hands in them every half hour.

I'd love to know what you all think of castile soap and how you use it in your life. Does anyone wash their hair with it? I'm dying to try that. What do you think?

DIY Poo - Pourri Spray

Have you heard about this poo-pourri spray? It's really quite amazing and has been around for quite a long time. I personally never bought itbecause I thought, "is it really worth the money for some fancy essential oil spray?"

Well, there are three things you need to know about these sprays:

1 - They really work like miracles. No joke. You spray it before you go (and that is the trick, you have to know how to use it, its not an air freshener) and NO ONE will know.

2 - I do not know what the ingredients are in the commercial  ones you can buy, but I do understand the principle behind them and how they do their magic.

3 - Knowing how they work, I was able to make my own and you can too. Its so easy and a fraction of the cost of buying the fancy ones. Lets make some!

How It Works: It creates a barrier (a layer of scented oils) on top of the water in the toilet. The barrier itself smells great (you mix up your favorite essential oils or just use your favorite already blended ones) and once something (eh, hem) passes through the barrier, it seals back up and no smells can get through it. Genius, right?

How I made mine: So you can't just put essential oils in a spray bottle and use them straight. For one, that's like flushing money down the toilet (literally) and two, not all essential oils are very thick, and some are probably too thick. So the second ingredient needs to be water.

Then we need something to thicken it a little, but more so to give it a spreadable consistency once it lands on top of the water. So I used glycerin. Glycerin is in a lot of products in order to give them consistency, glide, or thickening. You could use pure glycerin (its in the face product section) or vegetable glycerin (a more natural choice derived purely from, you guessed it, vegetables.)

I took a small glass spray bottle I had saved from a facial toner. I think it was about 2 - 2.5 ounce capacity. I put in a teaspoon of glycerin, then a total of about 20-25 drops of essential oils. I blended some of my favorites like citrus bliss blend, clary sage and grapefruit, but you can use any you would like. Then I topped the bottle off with water and shook it up like crazy. I would recommend using distilled water to keep the oils and everything from getting gross.

We gave this stuff a couple tests and everyone was happy to report "it works, it really really works!"

So go forth and make your own! You'll probably need some directions to put with it if you are hoping anyone else will use it. The sticker I put on mine says "If you gotta go, spray this first and no one will know!"

Please give it a try and let me know what you think.

Long draw... Learning curve

The long draw method of drafting creates a Woolen yarn that is area fluffier and warmer then a worsted draft method like short forward. When I watched people doing the long drive before I had my wheel it looked a little intimidating. It looked like it would require a lot of rhythm and controlling the speed of not only your feet but both of your hands independent of each other.

Since I've tried it out I realized all that is true! But it's not something to be intimidated by, it's actually super fun, and you just feel it, and you adjust what your doing, and you keep going and eventually you've spun up eight ounces of wool and you are totally hooked! Lol

Remember when I told you about craftsy? There are a few classes on spinning that helped me so much! You should consider trying out the unlimited subscription or simply purchasing a class a la cart. You won't be disappointed!

Laundry soap and lysol. STAT

We are in the midst of the stomach bug going through the house! It stayed with me on Thursday night and all day Friday. My husband is in bed now. I'm praying the children don't get it because... Well, vomit and toddlers is not fun no matter how you look at it.

So I'm on the Lysol prowl! Nothing is safe from me and my trusty purple can! I'm also washing everything in sight which means it was time to make another batch of laundry soap.

I know I told you before about this, and you can find a million recipes for it on the internet. The ingredients don't really vary much, but the preparation and ratios do. I'm still trying to get this just how I like it, but it works like magic! I never used the peppermint castile soap before, so that's going to be fun. I'll let you know how it turns out. I will share the recipe with you soon. But right now I see some hard surfaces that could be harboring nasty germs. I must go spray them. Be well, wash your hands like crazy.

For the birds

Have you ever searched for DIY bird feeders before? WOW. There is just so much you can do with such an ordinary task, like feeding some birds in the cold cold winter. I know my Pinterest search resulted in a very long time spent combing through all the beautiful ideas and creations.

That being said, the children and I were on a bit of a mission to make a bird feeder right then and there, so we were limited in supplies to what we could find around the house. 

Needless to say, we didn't get too fancy. But we did crank out a couple of feeders like this

And yes, I do find it amusing to have made them from those two particular bottles. Even though I prefer my diet coke with whiskey in it, but the whisky bottle was glass! we made a couple smaller ones out of water bottles as well. 

It was really satisfying to make these as it was quick and required very little by way of materials. Simply cut a circle out of the bottle on two sides (you could do this about 3 or 4 inches from the bottom of the bottle if you want, just remember that the birds will need to reach and so it can't be too high. Just below that make pin holes big enough to fit some rods or sticks through. We used wooden kabob sticks.  For the larger one in the South Comfort bottle, we cut very small circles about halfway up the bottle. we used a little wooden spoon which we inserted but at an angle. So the handle of the spoon came out a little higher up the other side of the bottle. That way, when we fill the bottle, the seeds slide out on the spoon and the birds can land there to eat. 

Spinning out of control

I am like a woman possessed I tell you! I have been to a local fiber shop three times in 5 days to purchase fiber. I am having such a great time with the Kiwi. I still have another sweater sleeve to knit, but I'm not thinking about that right now. Want to see some of the lovely work I've done?

These were my very first ever singles spun on a wheel

I plyed them into my first ever two ply spun on a wheel

I also did a small amount amount of Navajo plying, which I actually liked doing a LOT.

That was when I had to make my first trip to the shop, for more fiber and another bobbin.  I got a lovely bag of BFL in beautiful colors and tried to make a striped 2 ply. It didn't come out striped, but that's okay. There is about 130 yards here and I couldn't be happier.

Another trip to the shop got me a beautiful bag of fiber, with 4 oz each of four colors. Two colors are straight Coriedale , one has some kid mohair in there, and the other has some angora blended with it! I am only working with the straight wool balls right now. Trying for some long striping yarn. My attempt to Navajo ply was kind of a disaster. I can't talk about it yet, but I will tell you another day.

Better than a sweater sleeve

I actually did knit one sleeve of the February Lady sweater the other night like I said I would. But I got something even more exciting than a whole basket full of sweater sleeves! Say hi to Isabel (please ignore the messy living room floor behind her!!!)

She's so amazing! I have wanted a spinning wheel for so many years. Isabel (named by her first owner, you can't change that stuff!) is an Ashford Kiwi. Single Drive, Scotch Tension, absolutely beautiful. She had a custom paint job, as you can see. That may or may not stay, but for right now I'm perfectly happy!

I've spun on a drop spindle a little bit here and there. I always enjoyed it, but never got into plying with it because it was very cumbersome to me, and frustrating. I cannot wait to fill my second bobbin on Isabel and ply! I also joined Craftsy Unlimited so that I could do a beginner spinning class. I'll start the class tonight.

If you have never heard of Craftsy, you really should poke around the site. Its the coolest thing. You can purchase classes on almost anything you can imagine! You watch the videos, get class materials, and can ask the instructor questions. Best of all, you own the class after you buy it, and can watch it again and again and again. This may not be true for Craftsy Unlimited, but I haven't looked into the exact details yet.  I'll let you know about the class when I'm done with it.

Do you have a wheel? What one? Any tips? Tricks? Advice? Leave it in the comments please!

Knitting Cats

I know last week I said I was going to "crank out the sleeves" of my February Lady sweater. I might have sounded very confident about that when I wrote it, and I probably was. But of course, sleeves have a way of taking three times as long as any other (much larger) part of a sweater. Add to that the fact that I'm a very slow knitter (in the sense that I bounce back and forth between projects too much, I can't stay focused on one. My actual stitches per minute is probably relatively high) and you have an unfinished sweater still sitting in a bag...

But isn't that bag the best thing you've ever seen? You can get one with a sheep on it too! My BF and I found this vendor at Rhinebeck and the quality and charm of their items can't be beat! This bag is so durable, soft and has pockets inside!!! Oh I love pockets inside bags. This one was a Christmas present from my BF, you should look for one for yours!

I'd like to also add that my cats can't knit, but they seem very attracted to the idea of it.

 This was my view nearly every time I picked up the sweater to "crank out the sleeves".

So its not entirely my fault you see. I hope I will be sharing a picture of the completed sweater soon. Its a lovely pattern that I think everyone should try at least once.

When you find a deal you can't pass up

Today I ran into TJ Maxx to quickly grab some shampoo. That's when I saw that most dangerous of places... the clearance Shelf! I can't be the only one that gets lost in that section having to look at every single item and it's price tag. And I'm usually always happy that I did like today for instance when I saw not one but two of these...

That's two 8 oz bottles of Dr. Bonners Castile soap for $8! I have only ever bought the hemp lavender one, and I'm not out yet but I couldn't pass up the price nor the chance to test the peppermint one.

I use mine to make laundry soap and shaving cream. But I've often looked into how you can use it as shampoo and body wash and a bunch of other things. So maybe now that I have extra I'll give a few of those a try.

Do you use Castile soap for anything? Laundry soap, shaving cream, shampoo? Wash your dishes with it? What's your favorite thing to do with it? I've got thirty two ounces to mix up some new products!

Just winging it

So this winter I fell into a hat knitting vortex. It was like I was possessed, and I couldn't stop knitting hats. It started out with this hat for myself.

The yarn is some of my all time favorite, Good Karma Yarn which I purchased at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival this past Autumn. The festival has been an annual tradition for my BF and I for at least ten years now, and this yarn is always one of my favorite purchases. Its unbelievably soft and squishy, it wears so very well (no pilling and becoming gross) and the colors are beautiful. If you have never tried it I say you should! One skein makes a darling hat. They make sock yarn too, if you are so inclined.  The pattern is Aesderina which is fun and would work with so many different yarns to produce a really warm and really stylish hat.

An awesome purchase of 3 adorable skeins of this turned into 4 lovely hats for Christmas presents.

Not my typical yarn purchase, but the display in Michael's was too much to resist. All of the pretty colors sitting there with their adorable pom pom tops! 

Normally I feel comfortable modifying a few things here or there on a pattern. If I understand the basic construction of the item I'm making, and I feel I want to add a little to the design element, or change up the sizing of it a bit, I'll go with it. Most of the time things turn out okay too. But sometimes that path leads to a dead end (or a hat that fits a child's doll, or worse, a giant frying pan!) 

That's what happened to me when I looked at all the little bits left over from the five hats I'd made and thought, "what a waste! it would be so nice to have little fingerless mitts or something to go with each of the hats." All the patterns I found really did call for way more yarn than I probably had. But being me I figured, I'll just wing it. I will start from the cuff and work something sideways, I'll go until I've gone through half the yarn and see where I'm at. I did this at least six times....a few crochet attempts, a few knitting attempts. A few attempts actually ended with me crumpling up the yarn and tossing it in the bottom of my tote bag. 

Its so funny how quickly knitting can knock me back down a peg once in a while. She says "your getting too cocky, so now you will never make something useful out of those scraps without a well thought out pattern and twice the yardage." 

Ah, well Knitting, you win. I still love you. 

Kids silk flower project

Living in Northern New England, we have our fair share of the cold winter season. There comes a point, particularly when it's been a ve...

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