Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Basic Sugar Scrub Recipe

I like to dig in my flowerbeds without gloves.  I know some people love gardening gloves, but it just feels weird to me.  So I dig around and get dirt all under my nails and calluses and basically wreck my hands most of the summer.  I don't mind calluses, but I can't stand dirt under my nails.  So, what's a girl to do?  Well, come in and wash up with a soap and a sugar scrub and your hands will be as good as new.

Pinterest is full of sugar scrub recipes and all kinds of variations, but a plain sugar scrub is easy to make and cheap.  Here's how:

Gather your supplies.  You're going to need sugar, epsom salts, oil (I use sweet almond, but extra virgin olive oil will work if you don't want to invest in a body oil, or jojoba if you're into fancy body oils), and some essential or fragrance oils, even vanilla extract if you're in a jam,  and a container to put your finished product in.

Then you throw 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup epsom salt, 3 tablespoons oil, and your fragrance into a bowl.

Stir until everything is combined.

It will seem kind of dry, but it'll be fine, trust me.  Then, dump it all into your container.  I have some cute little latch jars, but jelly jars would work well too.  Or, scour thrift stores for unique containers.  Once you get your scrub into your jar, you can decorate it with ribbon, fabric, or just a label.

To use, just wet your hands, and pour a tablespoon or two of scrub into your palms.  Scrub until you feel the sugar and salt start to dissolve, paying close attention to your nails.  Then rinse clean, and enjoy you're silky smooth hands.  You can also use this in the bath or shower for dry knees and elbows, cracked heels, or anything else that needs so exfoliating.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On My Bookshelf... Serving Up the Harvest

Serving up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman is one of my favorite cookbooks.  It's a hefty little thing clocking in at nearly 500 pages and it features tons of recipes for using fresh produce.

It's organized by when the produce is in season and includes growing and cooking each veggie, as well as converting it to standard measurements.  (Example: one pound of beets is about the same as 4 to 5 medium beets.)

Cooking seasonal is smart for several reasons.  If you grow your own produce or buy local, you know that you can't grow everything all year round, but if you eat what's in season it's going to taste better than something shipped in from halfway around the world.  It's also better environmentally and economically because produce from halfway around the world (or even from a place in the US that doesn't get snow) costs more to get to you than something grown locally.  If you buy locally, it's often cheaper than buying imports at the grocery store and it's going to be fresher and probably covered with a whole lot less pesticides.

I really like this cookbook, because it calls for simple ingredients to make fresh and tasty food.  There's very little processed foods used and almost all of the ingredients (including the veggies- if you dont' grow your own or don't have a local farmer's market) can be found at a regular grocery store.  Something that I appreciate.  You can find Serving Up the Harvest on Amazon, or at many independent book stores.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What I Found... At the Thrift Shop

So, yesterday I had a vacation day.  I thought about sitting at home and catching up on some sewing projects, but then I thought it'd be a shame to waste a vacation day just sitting at home.  So, I jumped in the car and made a trip to the city.  I decided to just hangout at all the shops I like for as long as I like, and it was pretty great.  I spent a good chunk of time at Michael's and Joann's, but my score of the day came from the Goodwill I stopped at first.  I keep my washi tape in a decorative teapot on my desk, but it's not very practical because I can't see what I have and sometimes I have to dump it all out on my desk to find one particular roll. 

I was at Goodwill and not really finding much, when I took a stroll through the shelves and baskets aisle, and stumbled across this cute little shelf type thing.  It's a box with twenty little compartments.  It was a little beat up but it was only $3.00.  I thought maybe I could sand it down and paint it.  Then I saw it had the magical blue tag, which meant it was half price- $1.50!  Can't pass up a deal.  Once I got home I wiped it down with some furniture spray and decided it didn't look too bad after all.

Lots of potential!

I didn't want to nail it to the wall, but it rests comfortably on my desk and holds all my washi tape, most of my embossing inks and powders, some ribbons, some of my favorite stamps, and just some miscellaneous office things.  Look how cute it is once it's all filled up!

It also doesn't really matter if it's a little beat up, because my desk is a mammoth, solid wood thing I got at a garage sale two years ago for $20.  (The desk is so huge, we had to take it apart to get it through my doorway, into my office.  And by we, I mean my husband, who totally doesn't understand why I'd rather have an old, nicked up, solid beast over a new, pressed wood thing.)

Here's one final shot so you can see the mammoth desk also.
Where I write, use the internet, sew, and stamp.
I love the little cubbies even more now that I have them all filled up!  It was definitely my favorite buy of the day, and also one of the cheapest.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another WIP Finished... and Another Waiting

So I finished by scrub top!  Yay, right?  Nope, more like, blah.  So here's where I was last I showed you guys:

All cut out and ready to go.

So I only had to sew it up.  It only had about six pieces to the whole thing.  Easy peasy right?  Well, I'm a strict direction follower so I go to pull out the directions, and they're not there.  I tore apart my sewing room and the more I thought about it, the more I don't remember seeing the directions when I pulled out the actual tissue paper pattern.  Oh well.  I tell myself it's only six pieces, I can do this.  I attach the pockets and sew it together.  I'm thinking it looks big, but you know, scrub tops are often baggie.  I had already decided to make the small, because the pattern hadn't gotten great views on Pattern Review's website.  Most people said it came out huge, etc, etc.  So I finish it.  Hold it up, and am having serious doubts.  I try it on, and they are confirmed.  The kimono sleeves, which I loved on the envelope, have morphed into some sort of bat wing sleeve type thing and the neck opening is like a long slit that just looks utterly ridiculous.  I won't model it for you, but here's a pic of it.

Super attractive scrub top.

I had also trimmed two inches off the bottom, because it looked way to long for my liking. So that might have unfairly contributed to the boxy look.  Also, it's a unisex pattern so I knew it wasn't going to be fitted, but it just looks awful.  Maybe this will teach me to quit buying patterns out of the bargain bin.  (This one was $2.99.)  Here's a closeup of the neck opening.

Weird looking neck opening.
But, at least it's done and I know not to try that pattern again.

I took some pics of another work in progress.  Here's a taste of the log cabin pillow slipcovers I'm working on.  I have never made a quilt, so I thought this would be a good place to start.  My living room is a deep burgundy, so I tried to pic colors that will coordinate with that.

Pillow slipcovers- WIP.
Anyhow, hope everyone has a great Sunday,  Good luck on any projects you're working on.  And if they don't turn out, just remember they probably don't look as dorky as my bat wing sleeved scrub top.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Around the Web

Here are some things I've really been loving on the internet lately:

  • KIVA is a website that always users to make $25 micro loans to industrious people all around the world.  I currently have three loans going.  You can see pictures of all of them in the Kiva badge over on my sidebar.  The great thing about Kiva is that it's a loan, so you get your money back.  (Unless your loan is defaulted on by the borrower, which I guess can happen, but I've had good luck so far).  When you receive your repayments, you can either loan the money again, or you can withdraw your money and spend it on whatever you like.  If you have any interest at all in helping those around the world who have less than you, Kiva is a great way to do it. You can find more information for yourself, and look at some of the people you can fund at my Kiva invite page.
  •  Soul Centererd Photography's note cards are the ones I had bought at Farmer's Market last week and just loved.  Turns out you she has a lot of her nature photography on her website.  If you love flowers or the outdoors, check out some of her galleries.  It makes me feel sad that I'm not a better photographer, but appreciative of those who have the gift.  Check out Soul Centered Photography here.  She also has an Etsy Shop if you want to buy some of your own note cards.
  • And speaking of Etsy... Are you trying to get your New Year's Resolutions back on track?  Then you should probably check out Clean Mama Printables.  She has lots of organizing lists and worksheets for you.  Whether it's cleaning your house, organizing your blog, budgeting, planning meals, or getting ready for Christmas.  I have a couple of hers for sewing projects and some for blogging.  Everything I've ordered comes fast and is really professional looking.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

See and Sew B5413 Finished

Alright!  I managed to check off one item on my partial project list.  It's probably one of the easiest of all the projects I started but that doesn't mean it went together simply.  So, I had bought this batik fabric on Etsy.  I only had a yard but I chose it because it looks the same on either side.  I used some burgundy solid colored fabric for the pocket.

Here's what I started with.

The pattern is only two pieces for a front and back and then the pocket.  Then you trim the handles and top of the bag in bias tape.  I started trimming it in white, but I ran out.  Not a problem, right?  Even a small town should have bias tape?  Nope.  The little fabric town was all out of white.  I didn't want to wait until I got out of town to a bigger town, so I bought some black.  So, I finished it in black.

Here's some pictures of the finished project.

I like the print, but I don't like that the handles are so wide!  Plus the bias tape adds some bulk to the handle that doesn't really seem necessary.

I also don't like the pocket.  It's pretty much worthless.  I guess it would come in handy if I wanted to store my receipt in it.  That's about it.

I do like the gusset.  That, and the fact that the pattern only takes a yard of fabric are the only things I liked about.  But, I'm going to be sticking to my Michelle's Patterns Grocery Bag Pattern.  It takes a little more fabric, but it's lined and it goes together pretty fast.

I did get one of my to dos off my list.  So, it still feels good to have finished the bag.  And it's very functional.,  I'll probably use it on my next trip to farmer's market.  It just doesn't look very pretty.

Monday, July 15, 2013

On my Bookshelf: Simple Abundace, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

One of the books that has probably most influenced me since I've become an adult is Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  It was first published in 1995, which makes it almost twenty years old, but I think it's just as relevant today as it probably was back then.

My well worn, and well loved copy.

I remember when I started reading it, I had bought my first home a few years before that and had racked up some credit card debt at that time buying things on impulse that I didn't really need or even want once I got home, I was working at a job that I really hated, my two closest friends had moved away so that I had to drive nearly an hour to see either one, my husband had to have heart surgery, and I was just feeling totally weighed down and overwhelmed by life.  One of the ladies at church had decided to start a book group with this book over the Sunday school hour.  I joined, mainly because I liked the lady leading the study and I felt like I needed some socialization after the morale sapping work weeks.

This book is all about simplifying your life, realizing the difference between your needs and wants, and being happy and grateful for what you already have.  Each day has its own reading, only a page or two long.  It really changed my outlook.  I started spending my half hour lunch breaks at the nearby park eating lunch alone at a picnic table, or even in my car with the windows down, just reading a book, or listening to music.  I went through my clothes and parred down my huge wardrobe.  Being a bargain hunter, I had tons of clothes I had bought on clearance, or at Goodwill, but I didn't love most of it, and a lot of it rarely got worn.  Sarah's philosophy is that it's better to have a few outfits you love, made of quality materials than a bunch of things you really don't care for, but you bought them because they were cheap.  I've come to see this is true.  She also talks about the joy of decorating your home, getting order into your home and life, cooking and gardening, and searching for what we really want from life.  It really made me rethink a lot of things and remap what I was doing.  I started shopping less and spent more time reading books and growing flowers and keeping in touch with friends, and it really did make me feel more satisfied and happier with my life.  I still read it every year.  

You can find copies of Simple Abundance quite frequently at thrift stores, or on book swapping sites, and you can pick up a used copy on Amazon for less than $5.00.  Even though we're halfway through the year, it's not too late to start living a happier more fulfilled life, and this book gives you a great blueprint of how to do that. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What I Found... At Farmer's Market

I live in a little town.  The population here is well under 5,000.  I've always lived in and around this area and only occasionally do I wish I was somewhere bigger.  There are times when I wish there was something open after midnight, besides one lone gas station (especially since I work second shift).  But, for the most part, it's okay.  We have a grocery store.  We have a WalMart (which I count as a pro and a con).  We have a couple fast food places and plenty of gas stations so you can fill up if you decide to make a pilgrimage to the nearest metropolis- which will take a good hour to reach.

It's small here, but there's some things that are just as good here as at any big city.  We have an awesome library with a beautiful view.  Sometimes I just go there to read magazines.  It's so nice to have people around you, yet still enjoy the silence that a library provides.  We have some really awesome hiking and walking trails that I don't take advantage of as nearly as often as I should.  And we have a great farmers' market.

I grow some veggies on my deck, but I can find just about anything that will grow in Wisconsin at the farmer's market, not to mention lots of hand crafted things.  It's only open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, so I got up today and headed out.  It's only about six blocks from my house, it was a gorgeous breezy, sunny day, so I walked.

Here's what I found.

All my purchases that I lugged home on foot.

I got a Hen and Chicks plant  for one of my friends.  The sweet lady selling them recommended this one because it already has a lot of chicks.

Some homemade soy candles for someone selling sheep cheese, sheep milk soaps and organic sheep and beef meat.

Some snow peas for stir fry.

Homemade Kim Chee.  The mild was still a little spicy for me, but very good.  It's kind of like saurkraut but only crispier and with other veggies mixed it.  It's a Korean treat and very tasty.  The woman selling it was giving out samples at the market.  I also got a cup of organic coffee to sip on while I shopped.  Also very tasty.


A photographer was selling prints and greeting cards featuring her pictures.  Of course I had to get some.  I love snail mail.  The ones I picked featured Split Rock Lighthouse, which is located about three and a half hours north of here.  I've been there in the fall and it is a beautiful site.  This card shows it in the winter.  Also, a card with some delphiniums.  I always love cottage flowers like lupines, hollyhocks, foxgloves, and delphiniums.  The bottom one I'm not sure of, maybe Queen Anne's Lace or something similar.  It's very muted colors and just gorgeous.

And a gorgeous bouquet of fresh flowers.  Here's a close up of some of the beauties.

I spent way more than I was intending to, but there's plenty more that I resisted, like honey, handmade bath salts, homemade breads, fresh pastries, jams, birdhouses, and strawberries.  Plus, I really believe in supporting local and independent sellers.  I'd rather give them my money than WalMart any day.  We have a short growing season here in Wisconsin, so we haven't even hit the peak time yet, as far as fruits and veggies go.  Once we do, I'll be hauling home sweet corn, potatoes and green beans!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What I'm Working On

So I have this really neat trick where I pick out fabric for a sewing project, sometimes I even get as far as cutting it out, but then I get stuck.  I think part of this is because when I sew, I want it to come out perfect, but I'm not patient enough to go that slow, so sometimes I never get past the cutting stage.  I'm not really sure what's my deal, but in order to get over it, I'm going to show you some of my works in progress and then I'll (hopefully) finish them in the near future and show you the end results.

Here's what I've cut out lately:

There's this reusable grocery bag pattern from Butterick's "See & Sew" line.  It's super easy.  A front, a back, a pocket and some bias tape.  I literally just need to sew this one up.

See & Sew B5413 with some African Batik I bought on Etsy

Then there's this scrub top pattern from Simplicity.  I work at a hospital and I've found plenty of cheap scrub tops on Ebay, but the truth is sometimes I would like to make them out of fabric I really do like.   This is a unisex pattern and I noticed a lot of reviews of it stated that it is humongous.  So I cut out a size small and I used some fabric that has been in my stash forever so if it turns out to be a flop, no harm done.  I cut mine shorter so it will come to just below the waist and not down past my hips.  I also eliminated the chest pocket and just left the two front bottom pockets.  It's very easy: two pockets, a front, a back, a front neck facing, and a back neck facing.  I love that the sleeves are set into body of the top, kind of like kimono sleeves.

Simplicy 4644 in progress.  Fabric is a rust color with turquoise and magenta flowers.

Then there's this dress.  It's from McCall's Fashion Star line.  I never watched Fashion star, but I like that this dress had a fitted bodice and then a really loose skirt.  It too is all cut out, just needs to be sew up.  It has a belt that makes it have a kind of empire waistline.  I really like the fabric I had picked out so I really hope I like the finished product (once I finish it).  The fabric is a reprint of a William Morris wallpaper print.  Hopefully it isn't too busy of a print when it's all done.

McCall's M6554 in progress with William Morris printed fabric in shades of lavender, pink, and green.

Then, if I get all these projects completed, there's always these to start.
Colette Pattern's Hazel, Macaroon, Peony, Lily, and Crepe
I love Colette patterns, but am pretty scared to try my own, even after seeing all the cool ones people have created online.  But, practice makes perfect, right?  So, once I finish up some of my works in progress, I really want to take a stab at one of these.