Monday, November 21, 2011

Knifty Knitter Fingerless gloves for kids!

My daughter has been bugging me the past few months about making her some fingerless gloves.  Unfortunately, making the gloves on the blue Knifty Knitter loom makes the gloves go up to her shoulder... Stylish, but not what I'm going for!  So, I thought, we not use the Knifty Knitter flower loom.  They came out really cute! Hope you find this useful:

Materials:  Flower Loom (I hot glued my pegs in place!), yarn (I used 2 stands throughout to make them thick!)
  • Cast on (you will be making a flat panel using all the pegs on the loom)
  • Knit until the piece is long enough to go around your little ones wrist (I knitted 20 rows)
  • When you have knitted the amount you need, reach into the loom and bring up the cast on row
  • Just as you would for making a turned brim, put the bars from the cast on row back on the pegs SKIPPING PEG 5!
  • Knit the pegs that have two loops on them
  • Starting from the last peg, remove the whole piece using the crochet method

Friday, November 18, 2011

Liquid Laundry Soap

My review for the powdered laundry soap is in...  it gets clothes clean, but I feel like I always need to add more than 2 tablespoons.  This is purely a "me" thing... because the clothes are clean!  I think it's because after using name brand laundry detergent over my lifetime, I must be brainwashed that I have to use more (like a 1/4 cup or something).  More is better right?  So, I found myself doing laundry sprinkling in a little more washing soda or borax.  I was also at times putting 3 tablespoons of the laundry soap in.  So, I'm moving on to liquid laundry soap. This recipe definitely is MORE!  It makes 10 gallons!  I'll be having laundry detergent for years!

This soap is apparently the Duggar family recipe.  We don't have a TV, so I don't know much about them except what I see on the internet.  Apparently, they have a really big family (19 kids), and laundry is a full time job in that house.  Therefore, they should know what works.  So their recipe is:

1 grated bar of soap ( I'm going to use my homemade soap!)
1 cup of washing soda (see recipe, if you can't find it in the stores)
1/2 cup of borax
4 cups of hot water
5 gallon bucket
MORE water

Melt the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water.

 Fill up the bucket half way with hot water.  Add the melted soap, washing soda, and borax to the bucket.

Mix and make sure everything has dissolved.  Then add more water to fill the bucket.  Let it stand overnight and it will turn to gel.

Some people use the soap at this point.  One cup per load.  But the Duggar family takes it one step farther.  They are saying that what we just made is a concentrate.   When you are ready to use it, fill half of a used name brand laundry detergent container with your newly made soap and the other have with water.  Use one cup per load!

So I'm going to try both ways...  I'll get back to you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Knifty Knitter Dish Scrub

A simple 20 minute project with great results!  This little scrubby works great on all hard to clean pots, pans, and dishes.  All you need is a blue loom and nylon thread.  I found this stuff on a trip to home depot with my husband!

Cast on leaving 8-10 inches on the holding peg. E-wrap and  knit 15 rows.  Cast off using the gathering method.  Using the thread from the holding peg, using the gathering method to gather the other side.  Tie off and hide the thread inside.

I also made a smaller scrub by knitting just 10 rows!  Experiment away!

Again, thanks to Rostitchery for another great tutorial!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Washing Soda

So, I've been making soap like no one's biz... and now I want to go to the next level...  laundry detergent. It's economical, and I can use my homemade soap in it.  The basic ingredients are 1/2 of Borax, 1/2 cup of washing soda, and 2 cups of grated soap.  I had no problem finding the borax... but the washing soda, I couldn't find to save my life.  You would think in an urban setting, I would have no problem finding it.  So with a little research I found out you can make it!  Washing Soda is Baking Soda cooked.  By baking baking soda for about 2 hours on 400 degrees, the baking soda becomes washing soda.  If you are interested in the chemistry of it... google it....  but I must say....  I am now a proud maker of laundry detergent.  Two table spoons of detergent into the load... and I have clean clothes!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cold Process Soap: Alternatives to Water, What NOT to do!

Another wonderful experiment with cold process soap!  This time, I wanted to try to substitute water for another liquid in my soap.  I have had much success with beer.  So I thought, why not use apple juice using the apples from my tree (how full circle of me!)

Well, let me tell you a little secret... it was NOT a smart idea!  Thank god I had on gloves and goggles!
So, this is what happens to the lye solution when adding lye to juice:

...  it turns to sludge... in seconds....  it's called pectin ... Boy, did I learn my lesson!
So,  I disposed of the lye solution properly by waiting for it to cool, and transfered it into plastic bags  to throw away.  Then I tried it again... this time I dissolved all of the lye into half of the amount of water I normally use, and used the other "half" for the apple juice.  The key is to add the apple juice to your oils and lye just before you pore it into your molds.  Then it turns into something like this:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Apple Art

Here is another idea for using apples!  As you know, we have been talking a lot about apples around our house since I have been cooking with them so much.  My four year old said, "We should paint with them!" Hum... not a bad idea! We can make apple prints!  And so, we did!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


 Our tree is loaded this year, and I have been spending most of my free time creating something with this wonderful fruit! Today, I made applesauce!  I forgot how fun it can be... especially with a 4 year old helper!  The basic recipe is simple.  I threw the following ingredients in my crockpot and cook it on high for 3 hours.  Once it cools, I pureed it, added any additional sugar or cinnamon to taste...  and bam....  GREAT APPLESAUCE!
Apples (about 5 lbs)
spritz of lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup of H20
cinnamon to taste

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fairy Princess Tutu

Fairies, princesses, and dress-up are a HUGE thing around our house. And we are in need of something new to add to our collection...  So, today, I went on a scavenger hunt around the house to find items that would make some sort of costume. What I found wound up making a tutu. I used a hair band, tule, and ribbon.  I cut the tule into 3 inch strips and looped them onto the hair band.
I then kept adding tule until it was filled up!  I was happy, and so was my daughter!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Fart Egg?

Raising chickens has been quite an adventure.  We've learned (though experience) how our chickens were escaping from our backyard,  how to clip their wings, that they don't get seriously sick every fall (they  just molt), and that every once in awhile, they may lay very, very small eggs... called fart eggs.

Of course, being new to raisimg chickens, we thought that there was something seriously wrong with them.  But after a little research...(ok,  A LOT of research), we discovered that a fart egg had been laid.  Apparently, it occurs when reproductive tissue breaks away.  The chicken's body treats the tissue as a yolk and forms the rest of the egg around it.  However, the fart egg is completely yolk-free.  Who knew?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sprouting Time!

New addiction: sprouting! Good on sandwiches... Good on salads... Good for you!  I had heard that those little sprouts had more nutrients then their elder counterpart, the full grown plant.  So, I figured why not try to grow then myself?  Our family always needs more "good stuff." 

Day 1:  Take seeds ( I used spinach) and soak them in water overnight in a jar.
Day 2: Drain and set jar at a 45 degree angle in order over the course of the day to prevent seeds from getting moldy.  That night add water to the jar, giving the thirsty seeds a drink.  Then immediately drain and set jar at a 45 degree angle.

Day 3 -5:   Each night add water to the jar.  Then immediately drain and set jar at a 45 degree angle until seeds sprout.  Keeps up to a week in the fridge!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cold Process Soap

I finally had the courage to make Cold Process Soap.  The lye factor scared me, but after hours and hours of research, I bought my materials, had my wonderful husband watch the kids, and made my first batch of soap.  I couldn't have done it without The Soap Makers Companion, by Susan Miller Cavitch.  I must admit, it was a meditative adventure... it was a first time in awhile that I was completely present and not thinking of anything else, but what I was doing at the moment.

I used Cavitch's "Soap Essential's Bar II" recipe: olive oil, coconut oil, and palm oil.  I added vanilla EO to it... but suprisingly, I couldn't really smell the vanilla.  It was the olive oil that took over.  After some reading, I learned that maybe I should use the extra light olive oil.  I will try that for my next batch.
Here is a picture documentary of me soap journey!  The final soaps did come out looking like unfrosted cake...  hope that's ok....  Would love to here your thoughts!

Measuring the Sodium Hydroxide

Adding the Sodium Hydroxide to the water to make the LYE

Adding the Lye to the melted oil

Stirring it until it traces

Quickly adding it to my mold

Insulating it for 24 hours
Cutting it in bars and letting it cure for 4 weeks!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Onesie Bouquet Basket

Ok... so I'm not Martha Stewart, but I think I did pretty good with this one.  My girlfriend is having a baby at the end of July. She is going with a garden theme for her shower and baby's room.  So, I had to try Martha's bouquet tutorial... it would go perfect with the mother-to-be's theme.  But no such luck for me.   I could not, for the life of me, wrap the floral tape around the thicker socks or onesies.  So...  I made what I could into flowers, found a basket, stuffed the bottom with diapers (to hold the 'flowers'), and stuffed what I couldn't wrap the tape around into the basket as well.  Viola... a onesie basket!!!!  And the mommy loved it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Clipping chicken wings!

Well, it has been a long time!  Bringing a new child into this world has taken up most of our lives the past two months, and it sure has been a joy!  And while this has been going on, we have managed to keep our chickens in the yard by clipping their wings.  Here is a video on how we did it.  This is our first time at it, so we very much would appreciate any suggestions!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baby Booties using the Knifty Knitter

I finally had the courage to make socks!  I've been wanting to for sometime.  But I'm not a pattern maker... I need instructions!  Unfortunately, my on-line searching skills are not that great and I had a challenging time finding one for the Knifty Knitter.  Rostitchery has one for an adult foot using the blue loom, but I was nervous to commit to it... I needed something smaller... a baby sock would do!  The Knifty Knitter yahoo group recommend Bev's Country Country Cottage for a pattern.  So this weekend, I sat down and tried it.  I had to modify her pattern a little to make it fit the KK flower loom...  but after three tries, I found something that worked for me!  The blue sock in the picture was my first attempt.  I used the same amount of rows Bev recommended (but remember... a different loom)  and the sock fits my 3-yr old.  I then modified the rows for the cuff and ankle, but not the foot. This sock would fit a baby with a REALLY long foot (purple sock!).  Finally, I figured it out by sock three (purple and black sock) and am happy enough with it that I will make it's pair!

Here is what I came up with thanks to the wonderful guidance of Bev's Loomed Newborn Booties!
Material:  KK flower Loom, 2 colors of Baby Yarn.  You will use 2 strands throughout!

Instructions:  E-wrap around the loom twice, and knit off 1 over 1
Knit 10 rows
Turn up for a cuff (like making a brim on a hat)
E-wrap and knit 3 more rows

Make the Heel by: E-wrap 8 pegs, knit off those 8 pegs (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
E-wrap backwards only on 6 pegs (7,6,5,4,3,2), knit off
E-wrap forward again 4 pegs (3,4,5,6), knit off
E-wrap backwards again  2pegs (4,5), knit off

Now increase the number of pegs by two.

E-wrap peg 6 (knit-off) then e-wrap 5,4,3. Knit off.
E-wrap peg 2 (knit-off) then e-wrap 3,4,5,6,7. Knit off.
E-wrap peg 8 (knit-off) then e-wrap 7,6,5,4,3,2,1. Knit off. 

Form Foot:  E-wrap and knit 6 more rows (if you want you foot longer, keep going!)
Use the gathering method to to end!

Let me know how this worked for you and thanks again to the KK yahoo groups and Bev's Country Cottage patterns!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brewing Saison and Pale Ales

A beautiful day was spent brewing beer...  two types to be exact, a saison and a pale ale.  We began in the morning to escape the afternoon sun, only to be delayed by our search for the copper coil that cools the beer once boiled (the immersion chiller).  The previous weekend we had cleaned out the garage and I guess our organizational skills aren't up to speed, since we couldn't find what we needed!  So, by lunch time the coil was found and we were off and brewing.  We brewed both batches from a kit we got from the Northern Brewer Catalog:  Petite Saison D'ete and the Smoked Amber Ale.  In five weeks, I let you know how it tastes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No more TV!!!

It was a great surprise to come home on Monday and see this wonderful sign!  We had been talking about it for a whole year...  "We should really get rid of TV... it's a time and money suck! "  We even "practiced" not having a TV to see if we could survive... we went tops... three weeks. The only reason we would sneak was because we STILL had cable/TV .  Now we don't, and boy does it feel good.  It means more outdoor time, more family time, and more time to be creative!  Lovin’ it!  So far in the past two days, we have poured a foundation for the chicken coop, made two batches of heart shaped rice crispy bars, put a fence around garden beds so the chickens will stay out,  brought home a truck load of free mulch that we put into the backyard, and played 4 games of UNO all between the hours of 4pm -9pm!  If we were scoring a point for each activity that the TV distracted us from, we would get 10 points!  This is a fun game, let's see how many more points we can earn this week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Growing our own chicken feed!

The weather has been so beautiful this weekend, that it was time to start planting seeds!!!  Knowing us, we probably planted a little late (or early depending on how you look at it), so we'll see what pops up in a week.  We decided to take two courses of action: human food and chicken food. I planted the human food seeds starting indoors... focusing on lettuces, radishes, beets, and spinach.   Eric on the other hand concentrated on planting the chicken food directly into the ground.  This was a major event.  Not only did he prepare the soil, but had to fence the bed off.  You know that chickens love to dig!  In the past, they have killed very established plants.  I had to say goodbye to our artichoke plant this year.  Anyway, the bed consists of an omega-3 chicken blend, red oats, buckwheat, flax, and cow peas.   And yes, these are cover crops too.  We're rockin' multi-purpose planting.  See the diagram for the pattern the "chicken bed" was planted in.  The bed is 8 ft x 4ft.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Runaway Chicken!!

Meet Cinderella.. the chicken.  If she were to put an ad in the personal section, it would read something like this...

"Cute, friendly.  Loves worms and pill bugs.  Very adventurous. 
Loves to roam the streets of Oakland around 4pm." 

Without fail... everyday for the past week, our darling Cinderella jumps over our backyard fence into the neighbors yard, walks up their driveway, and starts cruising the streets.  Luckily for us, our wonderful neighbors help corral her back to our house.  But as our fence gets higher and higher, this free spirited chicken continues to plot her escape route.  Nothing can cage her in!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Knifty Knitter Fingerless Gloves

My new addiction... fingerless gloves.  I found this great pattern from rostitchery and now... I can't stop making them.  I originally was interested in these gloves for my morning walks.  I usually take a cup of coffee with me.  My finger gloves tended to get dirty from coffee spills (especially on the finger part) so I was always washing them.  Hence, fingerless gloves...  they worked perfectly.  A little coffee on the fingers can't hurt, it actually warms you up (and much easier to wash than gloves)!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Harvesting Quinoa

This past summer, we grew Quinoa... with the idea of harvesting and eating it through the winter.  Well, being new to gardening... (especially grains), through trial and error, this process has taken quiet while!
Step One:  Harvesting:  I collected the Quinoa stems in September and stored them in a paper bag.  I thought that the seeds would fall out once the plant had completely dried.  WRONG!  Some did, some didn't.  Now it's January, and I finally have time to take matters into my own hands... winnowing!!!
Step Two: Winnowing:  Looking at my collection of stems, I thought, "I bet I can get through this by winnowing with my hands...  I will probably get only a half a cup and take about an hour."  WRONG again!  As I winnowed by hand the first two stems (rubbing bunches of the dried florets together) , I easily had 1/2 a cup.  Plus, not only seeds fell into the bowl, but the casings as well.  Spending time picking the casings out was getting to be a time drain!! So, my wonderful husband made me a winnower out of wire mesh and voila... I had an efficient and effective winnower!
Step Three:  Washing  Quinoa needs to be soaked in water to rinse out the saponin.  I soaked and rinsed the seeds about 5 times until the water ran clear with no bubbles!
Step Four: Drying  Finally I put the clean quinoa on baking sheets to air dry!