A Great Day Planned

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blog 011So, it’s six o’clock on a Saturday morning. I’m waiting for my coffee to get done and I’m planning a GREAT day!! I am GOING to complete my craft room. It’s got to happen, because I just can’t stand this:

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anymore!! Plus I have blankets for three precious babes to get done, and I can’t possibly work when I have no room to do so.

Okay, who am I kidding? I know I have family reading this blog and they might call me out if I try to make people think I’m some great housekeeper or something. The last picture is how my craft room always looks, which is why I decided to change it. I have GREAT organizational skills. I do. They just usually lie latent somewhere under a pile of fabric.

I didn’t take a before picture of my craft room, because, well…I would be horrified to have all that public. ūüôā But, what I CAN tell you is that the whole wall of shelving I put up a couple of years ago held a LOT of stuff. Seriously. See picture number 2 and picture number 3. All of that is from one wall of shelves.

I’ve been contemplating how I could make this little room work better for me. Then I realized that my husband has been hoarding our old kitchen/bathroom cupboards out in the garage. So, I gave it my best shot, and explained my plan. And wouldn’t you know, the man braved the cold and dug out the cupboards from the garage! Here’s the beginning:

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We took the hodge podge assortment of cupboards I had available to me and hung them on the wall. Some were hung the normal way, and then some we hung horizontally. No matter what combination we came up with, we always had an uneven top. So I have an idea for that, too. (You’ll have to wait and see.)

Please notice the pretty laminate flooring my dear husband finished up for me as well as the nice trim!! ¬†He did that the day the kids and I went to the movies. It’s better that way, trust me.

When I was trying to figure out how to make better use of my craft room, I realized that one of the issues I have is that I have craft ADHD. While some people quilt, or sew or crochet or craft, I do everything  and seldom finish anything. The table that I used in my sewing room might one day have sewing stuff the next day have glue or on some days both!

So, I got another idea. I know my husband wishes I would get ideas that didn’t involve him, but this idea is really a good one, I think.

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While digging through the garage, we found a corner cupboard that was in good shape, so we brought that into the house and installed it in the opposite side of the room. Under that corner cupboard, I have asked my husband to put in a triangle piece of plywood to serve as my table. He doesn’t think it will look good, but I have another idea. ūüėČ But that will probably be next weekend. Anyway, that will serve as my sewing table.

I haven’t decided how I will do the craft table, but it will be on the other side of the room. Hopefully, by organizing this way, I will be able to keep major mess to a minimum. ¬†Quit laughing.

Today’s agenda:

  1. Sand cupboards
  2. Spray paint inside of cupboards to seal them up.
  3. Paint outside of cupboards
  4. Paint trim.
  5. Pass out from physical labor.

My hope for you is that you are able to shed the stress from the week, too!! What’s on YOUR agenda today?

You might want to check out these link parties! GREAT ideas on them!

Little House in the Suburbs

Frugal by choice

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Coffee Soap Tutorial

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I love making soap. There. I said it.

Again.

I really do like making soap, and I enjoy learning how to do new things. So, years ago, when my friend Becky helped me learn this art form or science or craft…whatever you want to call it, I was opened to a world of new ideas! It has been very satisfying to me.

There are a couple of recipes I have developed that are mainstays in my home. Coffee soap is one that I have used for years. This soap is wonderful to have in the kitchen or ¬†the bathroom. When I first learned the recipe, the blogger touted that it would take smells out like magic. Smells like onion, gas, etc. Well, I believed her, but my husband¬†didn’t, until the day he was changing the fuel filter on the car and ended up getting soaked with gas.

I asked him if he wanted the soap, and he scoffed politely and explained he had his favorite leprechaun soap and that would do.

Well, it didn’t do. He still reeked of gas.

He then asked me for my coffee soap, which I gladly shared, and we were both surprised at how well it worked. The gas smell vanished.

I tried not to gloat.

I always have a bar next to my sink. I love how it works for cleaning my hands from working in the garden to peeling onions. It’s easy on my skin, and the coffee grounds in the soap make a great exfoliate.

If you have never made cold process soaps before, you may want to read up on the process. I learned from sites like Kathy Miller’s Soap Making Site, Mountain Majestic Sage¬†and Soapmaking Resource. These sites offer so much wisdom and many many tutorials that are far superior to mine. ūüėČ

But let’s get started, shall we?

Ingredients:

  • 18 oz. olive oil
  • 1 cup coffee beans (broken up a bit)
  • 6 oz. Soybean Oil (Crisco is mostly soybean oil!)
  • 9 oz. coconut oil
  • 4.5 oz. lye
  • 12.3 oz very strong brewed coffee that is cold. Do not use hot coffee.
  • 1/2 tsp. ground walnut hull (optional)
  • 1 tbls. coffee grounds

Step One: Infuse Coffee into the Olive Oil

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There are a couple ways of doing this. One is for people who live life without planning ahead a lot. Like, if you wake up on a Saturday and decide that you’re going to make coffee soap, then you’ll want to put about a cup of coffee beans that are broken up a bit into the olive oil you’ll use for your soap. Put the oil and coffee beans either in a crock pot or in a stainless steel pot on the stove. Make sure it’s on low heat. Let the oil heat and you’re done when it looks like your oils are the color of really really dark coffee.

Personally, I like to put the oil and coffee  in a crock pot on a Friday night and let it heat through the night on low. Then I know most of the goody is out of the coffee beans by morning!

Sometimes people who are good at planning will decide that they are going to make coffee soap in a couple of weeks, and so they put the oil and coffee beans in a quart jar and let them sit covered for a couple of weeks. I’ve heard that works well, too.

When the oil appears dark, just strain the coffee beans out of the oil.

Step 2: Mix lye solution

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Weigh out 12.3 oz of COLD strong coffee (I triple brew mine) into a mason jar or other strong glass jar.

Carefully and slowly pour the lye into the coffee. Remember to stir carefully. Many people wear goggles and plastic gloves. It’s a great idea to think of safety!!!

I usually leave the jar in the kitchen sink or at least in a bowl so that if the glass cracks or if there is a spill, no one will get injured. I always crack my kitchen window a bit as well. There is nothing good about breathing lye solution!

Lye is serious business, but with safety precautions, there is no need to be afraid to try your hand at making cold process soaps!

Step 3: Melt your oils!

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Weigh out all of your oils. In a stainless steel pan, melt the oils on low heat. Some people use a double boiler. I do not have one, so I just use low heat. I’ve never had problems with this. ¬†Be sure that you use a nice stainless steel or enamel pan. Aluminum reacts with lye and you will have a mess on your hands if you use aluminum. Once your oils have melted, remove from heat.

Step 4: Wait

Now is the time you can do laundry, or vacuum the living room, or read to your children or watch a movie or weed flowers. This takes a while. The oils and the lye need to cool. There are some folk who believe that the oils and lye need to be at certain temperatures before you mix them.

Meh.

Here’s what I do. When I am able to put my hand comfortably on the containers of the lye and oils, they are cool enough to mix. Give them a good hour or hour and a half, though before you do this, because the containers will be very hot right away.

Step 5: Mix the lye into the oil.

Pour the lye CAREFULLY into the oils. I use a stainless steel whisk to mix the oils and lye. Very carefully stir the mixture until the oil and lye are completely mixed. Please remember that this mixture is very caustic. You will want to protect your skin and your eyes. Many people wear rubber gloves and goggles during this step.

Once the oils and lye are well mixed, I usually switch to a stick blender. You don’t need a stick blender, of course, but it speeds up te process considerably.

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Whether you use a stick blender or good old fashioned elbow grease, the mixture needs to be constantly stirred at this stage. You will see the amazing saponification process happening right before your very eyes! You will continue to stir until it gets thick. Kind of like when you know pudding is ready.

This is called “trace”.

Step 6: Add coffee grounds and black walnut powder.

Stir with your whisk to make sure the powder and the grounds are completely mixed throughout the soap. Your mixture should be a pretty dark color.

Step 7: Pour soap into prepared molds.

011I bought this wooden mold from Soap Making Resource¬†and my dear husband has also made some for me. This particular mold holds 2 pounds of oils. Some people use shoe boxes,¬†Velveeta¬†boxes, empty milk cartons, round pvc pipe, ¬†etc. ¬† Whatever you use, you will want to line your mold with either wax paper, freezer paper or plastic wrap. I personally like the papers because they don’t get as wrinkly, and you can cut them to size more easily. Whatever you choose, make sure that your mold is lined, or you will have difficulty getting the soap out of your mold.

To make the soaps all fancy schmancy, you can add some coffee beans to the top of the soaps if you want.

Step 8: Insulate your mold.

I simply put a lid on my mold and then wrap the mold in a towel. I put it on the counter where it shouldn’t be bothered.

Step 9: Wait. Again.

Usually, once the soap is wrapped up, it will go through another process of remelting. This is important in the chemical process of saponification, I think. If you keep it good and insulated, the curing process is much shorter I’ve found. It’s really hard for me to leave it be, but if you can do it, I think you’ll be happier with your soap.

After 12 hours or so, you will want to check on your soap. If it is hard, it’s time to remove it from the mold. If it is not, wrap it back up and wait some more. Some people are able to wait 24 hours to check on their soaps. I’ve never met someone like that, but I’ve heard they do exist.

Step 10: Cut the soap in to bars and then wait some more.

Once you remove the soap from the mold, carefully cut the soap into the size of bar you want. Put the bars in a place where they can cure. I usually have mine cure about 2 to 3 weeks. Some wait much longer than that. Curing the bars does a couple of things. 1. The longer the bars cure, the harder they usually become because the water evaporates, and 2. curing completes the saponification process, which is what chemically converts the lye and fats into soap!

You may want to read this page, Soap Testing for Safety. It’s a great resource. Basically, you want to make sure that there is no free lye in your soaps.

Lye will hurt you.

Some people do the ‘tongue test’. They put their tongue on the soap and if it ‘bites’ they know that it’s not ready. Others use¬†Phenolphthalein. When I’ve used this, I usually scratch the surface of the soap and then place a drop of the phenolphthalein on that spot. If it is clear or a very light pink, the soap is okay for use. If it is a dark pink, there is still excess lye and should cure some more.

Step 11: Lather Up!!

Good luck with your soap making. Please let me know how it works for you!! Leave me a link in the comment section to your blog! I LOVE to see what others are up to!

I linked this post to the following blogs! Check them out!

52 Mantles Frugal by choice

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Almost done stuff!

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It seems my whole life is one big project that is in the process of getting completed! We have our undone house, I have a couple of undone quilts, undone reports for work. You know, the usual. I’m kind of glad that I keep this blog, though, because it does journal that occassionally I DO finish something.

Today, though, I’m going to spotlight a few of my undone projects.

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Orange Cleaner

This is all over Pinterest right now, and since I love using vinegar for my cleaning solution, I thought I’d give this a go. I just stuffed orange rinds in a mason jar and filled with vinegar. I love the antique lid. I found a bunch of those at a garage sale!!

Most of the posts I’ve read say to let it sit for a couple of weeks. It’s so bright and cheery on my counter these gloomy winter days!

I’ve had the orange rinds soaking for a couple of days now, and had to take a sniff today. There is still a fairly strong vinegar odor or fragrance…however you would describe it, but I can already smell the orange. Lovely.

Extracting the orange this way would certainly be a lot cheaper than buying orange essential oil. Some of the bloggers I’ve read use any citrus rind.

I am adding lemons, limes and grapefruit to my shopping list.

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I found this incredibly soft yarn at Hancocks Fabrics last week when I was there for buttons. Didn’t really find the buttons I liked, but I DID find this beautiful yarn from Bernat. It’s called ‘Pipsqueak’, and I’ve got to admit that while I was holding this yarn, I felt compelled to stroke it and sing “Soft Kitty”. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

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This is one of those yarns that makes it incredibly hard to see your stitches, so I decided to do just a simple double crochet stitch throughout the blanket. The soft purples, lavenders and greens are varigated, so I really don’t need any fancy schmancy stitches to make this wonderful.

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I’m just on the third row so far, ¬†and am really happy with how it is turning out. It is so soft! I will post a tutorial later. I just thought I’d give you a look see!

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Placemats

I found this placemat during one of my Goodwill shopping days. It was too nice to pass up, although I doubt I would ever use this as a placemat. I WOULD like to make this in to a purse, though. I haven’t figured it out completely, but the idea is swirling around in my head. I probably won’t get to that until I get the floor laid in my craft room, but that will be a few days yet, so I’m not holding my breath.

 

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Aquarium

My husband gave me a 55 gallon aquarium for Christmas. Right now I have a little 10 gallon one that I enjoy in my living room; this little guy is one of my favorites. He just

¬†gets so excited when it’s time to eat! His aquarium mates are beautiful glofish, but I couldn’t get a non blurry picture of them!

I am researching and learning more than I ever knew about fish and how to take care of them. Once we get our family room done (it’s almost there!) I will build the stand for the big ole thing and then we’ll get started on our aquarium journey. I’ve heard it’s addicting.¬†I’m hoping by the end of February I will be ready to buy fish!

¬†Take a minute to let me know what you’re up to. Leave a comment in down below and put a link to YOUR favorite project! I love seeing what other people are doing that is creative!! I get so inspired!

Gift Bag — Easy Peasy!!

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wpid-2013-01-23_12-54-42_989.jpgI needed a pretty gift bag this morning for a little gift I wanted to give my friend this morning, but I didn’t have one in my stash. What I DID have were a couple of pieces¬†of 81/2 x 11 inch felt and a really cool button!! Well…I have a LOT of cool buttons, thanks to my daughter and to the many garage sales I go to.

I folded the felt in half, matching the short sides and then sewed 1/2 inch seams on each side. I trimmed about 1/2 inch off the top of the red felt bag. I suppose you could probably do that before you sew the edges, but why make anything easy? ūüôā

Then I made a gusset on each side, like you do when making bags. I made mine pretty squatty.

I put the brown felt bag inside the red felt bag and turned down the top edge. I added the cute button, and – WHALLAH a bag is born. Just perfect for my little gift. All done in about 10 minutes. SCORE!!

My friend will love it, I’m sure of it.

Do you have a little craft that you’d like to share? Send a link in the comment!! We would love to see what you’re up to!

I linked up to the following link parties! Check them out!!

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Reduce, Re-Use Recycle (yarn scraps, old jewelry and buttons

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I love Pinterest! Who doesn’t? Well, probably people who don’t like Pinterest are people who actually have clean houses and organized lives. The rest of us love Pinterest. Last weekend, I stumbled on a cute little project to make a¬†Cozy Cup Warmer. You can download complete instructions there. I thought she did a good job explaining how to do her project. I used her pattern, but added just a little bit longer strap to go above the coffee cup handle. Here’s my first attempt:

I liked this project because it used up the last scrap of yarn I had lying in my bucket and I like how the strap goes across the cozy a bit. It looks kind of cool on the cup. It really does keep the coffee in my mug warmer longer, which is always nice, and it’s a fun way to use up scraps of yarn.

What I love about crafting is that you just don’t have to be stuck with the exact same thing as the pattern says. It really doesn’t hurt to ask, “What if I did…” Sometimes things don’t work out, but when they do, it’s TONS of fun!

For example, I LOVE going to garage sales and finding treasures like old jewelry and buttons. Last summer, I found a bunch of ‘old lady’ jewelry including those beaded earrings on clips? You know what I’m talking about, right? Using them on projects like this one is just plain fun. I got¬†¬†kind of excited about the possibilities! I had some yarn (which I really do not like using because it takes more skill than what I have) and came up with this variation.

While I don’t think I’ll ever use that yarn again, I do like how it turned out.

I really want to encourage you to use patterns that you find on the Internet, but make them your own – especially when you are crafting with repurposed items! It’s not like there is a lot invested, and when you can come up with something new, it is a fantastic feeling. I also think it does something great to the brain as well…

Happy Crafting!

I linked up:

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle! (Rag Quilt)

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I have been enjoying looking through Pinterest and finding out what other people are doing. I saw a rag rug posted there that got the creative wheels turning. Here’s the thing. I really¬†don’t like cutting little squares in order to sew everything back together again. But¬†then I saw a post from¬†Do it Yourself Divas¬†and knew I had to try that one. Well, I knew I had to try something like that one.

Rag Quilt

Of course, I changed it up a bit. Here’s what I did:

  • I did not use batting.
  • I cut the strips all different sizes, but made sure to cut double layers so that I would have two of each size.
  • I pinned the two sizes together right after cutting, so I would have to waste time searching for the matching strip. (I mean, seriously. How much time to I waste with every project just looking for what I laid down?)
  • I made blocks of strips so that the strips weren’t all going the same way. (I liked the change up)
  • I made sure to clean out my washing machine after washing this quilt. There are so many loose threads that could mes up the machine if I didn’t.

Most of the fabric in this quilt was leftover from different projects, so it was good to use up the scraps. I did purchase a couple of the fabrics, so I would be able to add some color. I love how it turned out, and I think it made a nice gift.

Sweet!!

I really want to encourage you to just dive in and try it if this kind of craft appeals to you! Don’t worry about perfection. Have fun. Enjoy. De-stress.

It’s a wonderful thing!

Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle (or crafting)

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I’ve been seeing a lot of Sock Monkeys on Pinterest so it seems like they’re all the rage. My co-worker paid attention when I asked people for closet cast offs. She gifted me with a bag full of items worthy of my craft stash! In the bag was a pair of brightly colored “toe” socks, which just begged to be made into a sock animal. I’m not quite sure what it is, yet!

Basically, I just altered the sock monkey pattern a tad. Craft Passion¬†has a great tutorial!! So many times I think we get caught up in following a pattern or someone else’s idea to a T, and we forget that half the fun of creating is, well….creating! That’s such a stress reliever for me. Use patterns as a springboard to your own creations! Anyway, here is my Sock Thingie. I have laughed and had a great time creating this guy!!

I have a confession to make. I went through my daughter’s pile of stuff to go to Goodwill and pulled out a couple of sweaters. They’ll make some GREAT stuff!