Category Archives: Crafts

Easy Knitted Scarf

I love knitted scarves in the winter–there’s something comforting about having a bundle of cozy softness around you to help keep you warm! We had a little break in our chilly winter weather for about a week, but now it’s cold again, and my knitted scarves will once again come in handy! They are so easy to make, especially this particular type of knitted scarf, and I’ve made quite a few of them.

The directions for this scarf are quite simple:

  1. Use large size knitting needles for a thick, soft scarf–I used size 15.
  2. Cast on 34 stitches. You can increase or decrease the stitches by 4, depending on how thick your yarn is, and how wide you want your scarf to be. For a medium weight 4-ply yarn, 34 stitches will give you a scarf that’s about 6 1/2″ wide.
  3. Row 1: Knit 2, Purl 2
  4. Row 2: Purl 2, Knit 2
  5. Repeat these rows until your scarf is as long as you want it. This scarf is 6 1/2 ft., which took 2 skeins of yarn to make.
  6. Cast off your stitches (which is how you finish off the scarf)

If you don’t know how to knit, there are lots of books for beginners and lots of tutorials on the web, too. This tutorial over at wikihow.com shows you how to cast on, do a basic knitting stitch, and cast off.

The photo above, of the most recent scarf I knitted, shows one way you can wear your scarf, and here’s another way:I like both ways–either way you wear it, you’ll feel nice and warm!

Do you like to knit? Or crochet? Do you have any projects you’re working on now?

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Olive Oil Soap

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Photo courtesy of The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Have you ever made your own soap before? I really like the idea of using homemade soap with natural ingredients and have been interested in trying to make some myself. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to review the new book, The Best Natural Homemade Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps (Robert Rose, softcover). 

UnknownThe book starts off by sharing some interesting history about soap making. In ancient times, soap mainly consisted of a mixture of boiled fat and ashes. The first people to make olive oil soap were the Syrians, several thousand years ago in the city of Aleppo. “The women of Aleppo realized that by adding ground bay leaves to soap, skin infections were reduced considerably; the leaves from the bay plant possess an extraordinary natural antiseptic.” And other soap-making discoveries continued over the centuries.

This book also includes preparation tips and utensil and ingredient guides so you have everything you need to make your own olive oil-based soap. The step-by-step instructions seem easy to follow and include information on therapeutic qualities of the natural soap additives in each particular recipe–additives like essential oils, beeswax, cocoa butter, kaolin clay, seaweed, and goat’s milk. Some of the 40 different soap recipes include Kiwi Soap, Lavender Soap, Marigold Soap, Seaweed Soap, Green Tea Soap, Chocolate Soap, Coconut Soap, Cinnamon Soap, Rosemary Soap…and many more great-sounding versions!

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Image from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

I was going to try making the basic Olive Oil Soap recipe. The ingredients are simple and basic enough–mineral water, lye (caustic soda), and extra virgin olive oil. However, I wasn’t able to find lye in any stores near me, so I guess I’ll have to order some from a soap-making supplier (there’s a list at the back of the book). In the meantime, I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe with you! Note: You’ll need safety goggles, a large saucepan, and a kitchen thermometer to make this soap.

OLIVE OIL SOAP from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

  • 7.5 oz. mineral water
  • 3 oz. lye (caustic soda)
  • 1.5 lbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Scent (optional), store-bought or homemade
  1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved.
  2. Using a thermometer, monitor the temperature of the lye mixture until it is between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  4. Remove olive oil from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil, stirring slowly and trying not to splash.
  5. Stir occasionally, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals (it will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise).
  6. Stir in scent (if using). Stir for 1 minute with a spoon (or with a whisk, taking care not to create foam).
  7. Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large.
  9. Turn soap out of mold. Wait another day, then cut into bars as desired.
  10. Dry bars for 1 month, turning occasionally to ensure they are drying uniformly.
Soap recipe from The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © http://www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

 

This sounds like a great soap for your skin! Homemade soap is a great DIY gift idea, too! Do you use or have you made any olive oil-based soap, or any other kinds of soap?

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things.

Autumn Bouquets

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I am such a jar and bottle-saver! I save glass jars and bottles of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I was starting to get quite a collection and running out of space to put them, so I thought I’d make some autumn bouquets to give to my flower-loving friends.

I love the variety of sizes and colors of these bottles! Each one of them had some sort of food item in them–after the contents were used up, I removed the labels on each bottle so I could reuse them as vases and tied autumn-colored ribbons around them before filling with flowers.

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These three glass bottles were all once containers for vanilla, almond, and orange extract.

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These two jars originally had jam in them.

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Another unique-looking bottle and jar: the small clear bottle in the foreground was from Cracker Barrel (it was a miniature maple syrup bottle–the kind they give you when you order pancakes). The larger brown glass jar in the background is actually a vitamin jar. Who would’ve thought it would make such a great vase?

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This vintage-looking soda bottle was from Cracker Barrel, too–they sell a variety of vintage sodas in their country store, and some of them have such great designs, you hate to toss them out!

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This bottle is one of my favorites–it has a long neck and a rounded base, so no worries about this tipping over! This originally had some white wine vinegar in it.

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And this large bottle had some apple juice in it–I love the detail of the leaves at the top of the bottle–much too pretty to get rid of!

Most of my labels came off pretty easily just by soaking the bottle in hot soapy water–I left the bottles in the water overnight. But sometimes I come across really stubborn labels, and on those, I sometimes use nail polish remover. I’ve also heard that Goo Gone works too, although I haven’t tried that yet. If you use products like these, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.

Are you a glass jar and bottle-saver too? Using them as vases is one way to upcycle them. Do you have other ways of reusing pretty jars and bottles?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy and Show and Share at Coastal Charm.

A Spring Branch Bouquet

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Dogwood trees are starting to bloom where I live and their blooms are so pretty! The Redbud trees are also blooming and their rich color looks so striking against the other trees that are just starting to produce small leaves.

I decided to pick a few blooming branches and make a bouquet–something I had wanted to do last spring, but by the time I thought about doing it, the blooms were past their prime. So here’s how my “Branch Bouquet” turned out–I just combined 2 Dogwood branches with 3 Redbud branches and I think the different blooms look so pretty together! You could use other kinds of blooming branches, too–Forsythias, Pear Blossoms…whatever type of blooming branches that are growing around you. It brings a nice touch of the spring outdoors into your home or office.

You could also use this idea to make a pretty Easter centerpiece for your table!

Do you have any pretty blooming shrubs or trees in your yard?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday, Wow Us Wednesday, Favorite Things Thursday.

Pretty Clever Valentines

Here are some fun handmade card and gift ideas I came across for Valentine’s Day at MarthaStewart.com…maybe you’ll see something you want to try out!

See below for the links to these ideas…

PrettyClver Vals

Above, left to right each row, a hand-stitched Valentine, dainty doily envelopes, a gift-in-a-card seed card or seed starter Valentines heart envelope cards–envelopes that turn into Valentines, fun heart-and-lollipop flowers, card bookmarks or heart bookmarks, a chocolate wrapper  with a special note on the reverse side, poetic wrappings with poetry written on paper or ribbon, heart-shaped soap with a message, or conversation heart cookies. All fun, unique things to give and to get!

Are you making any handmade cards or gifts for your Valentine(s)?