Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's the Balm!

I couldn't help it, very punny, I know. I've been making lip balm and lotion bars! They're super easy to make and totally addictive.

I bought all my supplies at The Portland Homestead Supply Co. (except for the little Altoids tin). If you are ever in Portland, specifically in the Sellwood neighborhood, the store is worth a visit. They have all sorts of homesteading type supplies, including soapmaking, canning, and all things urban chicken raising.

I used this recipe but divided everything in half (i.e,. 1 tbl beeswax pellets, 1 tbl shea butter, 2 tbl sweet almond oil). Also, I used the essential oils I had on hand, which were lavender and peppermint. Combined with the smell of beeswax, it turned out to be a lovely scent. I ended up with enough balm to fill these two containers, plus two standard chapstick-type tubes.

I also made a lotion bar, using the same ingredients (beeswax, shea butter, and sweet almond oil) but in a 1-1-1 ratio, also scented with lavender and peppermint essential oils. I LOVE this bar! My 10-year-old, who has always had a touch of eczema at his elbow creases, has also been using this lotion bar and loves it too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Incredible Hulk aka Kale Ginger Apple Smoothie

I started making these kale ginger apple smoothies last summer, after having one at a juice cart in SE Portland. They called their smoothie The Incredible Hulk. It was insanely good (for being green), and my (at the time) 7-year-old loved the smoothie as much as I did.

The only problem was that it was kinda pricey, being close to $5 a pop. Consistent with the cart's SE Portland location,  the ingredients were organic, from local farms, which helps explain the spendy price tag.

Totally obsessed with the idea that I could make a similar smoothie (also from organic, local produce, of course), for less than $5, I reviewed a bunch of different recipes on the internet. After many smoothies, I came up with this recipe that I now make all the time. I have sometimes served it as a replacement for veggies and beverages at mealtimes, so I don't feel as badly about serviding something like pizza.

Kale Ginger Apple Smoothie

In a blender, crush:

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and rough chopped
3-4 ice cubes

1/2 banana
1/2 apple, cored and rough chopped
2 handfuls chopped kale (roughly 1.5-2 cups loosely packed; I buy mine in a bag which makes the process way faster)
8 oz apple cider

Blend until smooth. Yields about 16-20 ounces, or 2 servings. According to my My Fitness Pal app, the total calories is 257.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

WIP Wednesday - More Goose in the Pond blocks

It's been a long time since I participated in WIP Wednesday, so I'm super happy to have something to contribute.

These are the latest two blocks for my Goose in the Pond quilt. The first two blocks, along with a link to the PDF instructions for making up the 15-inch block, can be found here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Just a plain old hat

After I finished knitting up the Skull Isle Hat and Hutchin, my oldest boy requested a hat, too. He was very specific in what he wanted, a black hat with a double layered brim to keep his ears warm. I asked him if he wanted stripes, or colors, or cables...but no, just a plain old black hat.

Despite its plainness, the hat was pretty fun and easy to knit up -- the perfect project for multiple episodes of Broadchurch. I think it could easily made into a stripey hat.

In the language of the great Elizabeth Zimmermann, here are my pithy directions for this hat.

A Plain Old Hat:

This particular hat was knit for a 10-year-old boy, who has the same head circumference as my own, a pretty standard 22 inches. If you want to size up or down, change the needle size accordingly.

I used a nice standard worsted weight wool, Cascade 220 (220 yd/3.5 oz)

Size 6 (4 mm) circlular needles with a long cable


Brim - Using a provisional cast-on technique of your choice, cast on 96 stitches onto a circular needle. Begin a 2 x 2 rib in the round using a magic loop technique. (A 2 x 2 rib is just as it sounds, k2 p2, all the way around.) Continue rib for 15 rounds or about 2 inches. Purl next round. Continue in rib for another 15 rounds, or the same amount of rounds you did before the purl round.

Body - Now fold the provisional cast-on edge toward the inside of the hat, so that the purl row now forms the bottom of the hat. On the next round, knit together the stitch that is on the left-hand needle with one provisional stitch from your cast on row. Keep working the provisional stitches into the stitches on the left-hand needle as you knit all the way around until you have completed the round and there are no more provisional stitches. (Count your stitches to make sure that you still have 96!)

Continue knitting in the round until the hat measures about 6.5 inches from the bottom of the brim.

Crown shaping -
Round 1 - *K14, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 2 and every even round - k all stitches
Round 3 - *K13, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 5 - *K12, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 7 - *K11, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 9 - *K10, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 11 - *K9, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 13 - *K8, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 15 - *K7, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round (48 sts)

Round 16 - k
Round 17 - *K6, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 18 - *K5, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 19 - *K4, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 20 - *K3, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 21 - *K2, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 22 - *K1, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 23 - *k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 6 sts remain.

Cut yarn and thread through the last 6 stitches. I like to go through twice, to make it feel more secure. Weave in the tail and fasten off. There -- you've got yourself a new hat!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Goose in the Pond blocks and PDF instructions

Here they are! These are my first two blocks from the instructions I drafted for a 15-inch block. Each block requires not quite 1/4 yard each of a main print and a solid/neutral. I turned the instructions into a PDF for you to download -- just click here.

The top block uses a print from Alison Glass's Handcrafted collection, and the fabric from the bottom block is Priory Square by Katy Jones. The solid is a great go-to neutral, White Linen from Art Gallery's Pure Elements collection. The weights of these fabrics match perfectly.

I'm going to have to put these blocks away for a bit to concentrate on other projects, namely a couple of Super Totes that I've committed to making for upcoming fundraising auctions.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Goose in the Pond

I've been obsessing about this Goose in the Pond block for months now, ever since seeing this quilt a while back.

Here is a schematic for the potential lay-out, although I still have to work out whether to include a border. I have a 15-inch test block cut. It looks like each block will require a fat quarter of a print and a fat quarter of a background/solid fabric. Now on to the fun part, the piecing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Printable Monthly and Weekly Planners for 2015

It's very old fashioned of  me, I know, but I'm a visual person so I like to keep a paper calendar/planner. As I'm keeping track of activities and appointments for three other people in addition to myself, there are certain features I like in a calendar/planner. Each year, I struggle with finding The Perfect Calendar.
So this year, I got proactive and made my own planner! I had so much fun creating these planners, I thought I would share them with you all.  Here are the links to the Monthly Planner and the Weekly Planner for you to download.

The two-page monthly spread is meant to be used in a three-ring binder (or a Circa notebook, as I use). There are 25 pages for the monthly calendar, which should be printed front and back. I also print the weekly planner (with space for daily tasks, meals, shopping list, and errands) front and back, so that I can take the single page with me when I'm out and about.
It's still a work in progress, and I will likely tweak or add features as I go along. If you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to shoot me an email at elvycrafts(at)gmail(dot)com, and let me know.