November Favorites

November 29, 2013

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4. Wovember.com, for geeking out on all-things wool.

5. This online color challenge.

6. Wool People 6 came out this month, and I want to knit all the patterns.

7. This article from Brain Pickings about why Grit, Not IQ, predicts success.

8. This article about caring for feeble old hens. Actually, I love the whole HenCam site.

9. For curlies: Curls Passion Fruit Curl Control Paste. Smells amazing, works great.

See you in December!

Knitted Christmas Baubles

November 26, 2013

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Hey everyone! I know it's Thanksgiving week, but I'd like to share a Christmasy post with you that I wrote for My Own Labels this week. This year, I thought it would be fun to make my own knitted Christmas tree ornaments from all of the scrap yarn I've been saving from previous projects, and this tutorial from Espace Tricot is perfect because it's super customizeable. Check it out!

Chocolate-Coconut Milk Ganache for Hot Chocolate

November 22, 2013

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Last year, I wrote about The Best Hot Chocolate Ever here, which is made by fixing up a large batch of chocolate ganache, which can then be stored in the refrigerator until you're ready for it. Well, this year, I'm trying to lay off dairy, so I needed to create a version that was made with something other than heavy whipping cream. And because coconut milk is nice and rich and fatty, I thought it would make a great substitute.

Well, I was right. Plus, coconut milk is naturally sweet, so it complements dark chocolate. And if you want to get extra fancy, you can add a little nutmeg, honey, and a cinnamon stick to the coconut milk while it's heating for added sweetness and flavor.

Chocolate-Coconut Milk Ganache for Hot Chocolate
9 oz. dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's)
1 cup full-fat coconut milk

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Chop up the chocolate and place it in a bowl. Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan on medium, stirring frequently, until just before it comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and pour over the chocolate. Let the coconut milk and chocolate sit for 3-4 minutes, and then stir (don't beat) with a whisk until well combined. Pour into a pint sized jar or any air-tight container, and store in the refrigerator.

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When you're ready for a mug full of hot chocolate, heat up your milk or water. Add 1-2 big spoonfuls of the chocolate ganache to each mug, top with the heated milk or water, and stir with a spoon until dissolved.  

Enjoy!

Weekend Snapshots

November 19, 2013

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1. kitties
2. fresh stain for my sewing table
3. new houseplant!
4. us

It has been rainy and windy and stormy all week, and I'm loving it. Perfect for crafting, drinking tea, reading, writing...

Over the weekend, I decided it was time to stain and seal my little sewing table. It should be completely dry and ready to use by Friday. I think it's time to finally teach myself to sew so I can alter my clothes to fit a little better. I figured I'd start with easy hemmings and alterations, and then work my way toward sewing garments from patterns. One step at a time.

Beeswax Candles

November 15, 2013

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I like lighting candles around the house, especially in the winter months, but I'm really sensitive to the perfumes and toxic ingredients that are in most of the candles found at the store. That's why I decided to learn how to make beeswax candles this year, and, surprisingly, it's a lot easier than I thought.

Aside from the raw coolness factor that comes from watching the liquid wax solidify - something that always intrigued me as a kid - I like making these candles at home because I can scent them however I want with essential oils. Mostly I'll just leave them plain because the beeswax (usually) smells nice enough on its own, but sometimes it's fun to add something extra.

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Simple Beeswax Candles

Materials:
Water
A medium saucepan
1 4-cup measuring glass
Beeswax (in pellet or block form)
Essential oils (optional)
Small glass jars or candle molds, clean and dry
Cotton candle wicks
Skewers or chopsticks

Instructions:

1. Prepare all of your ingredients. If your beeswax is in block form, cut it into cubes for faster melting.

2. Pour water into your saucepan until it is 2 inches high, and place on the stove over medium heat.

3. Place beeswax cubes or pellets into 4-cup measuring glass. Then place measuring glass in saucepan until the beeswax has completely melted.

4. Once beeswax melts, carefully remove measuring glass from saucepan, and place on towel-lined counter top. Add 50-100 drops of essential oil, or until you're happy with the strength of the scent (optional).

5. While still in liquid form, pour the beeswax into your small jars, making sure to leave at least 1/2-inch headspace.

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6. Place one wick in each jar, centering it as best as possible. Use chopsticks or wooden skewers to hold the wicks in place until the wax has dried.

7. Once the wax has dried completely, snip the tops of your wicks to about 1" height.

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8. Light wicks, and enjoy!

(P.S. These also make really great gifts for the holidays!)

Weekend Snapshots: New Lighting

November 11, 2013

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Confession: I've been dying to update the lighting in my home ever since we moved here back in July 2012, but it was one of those projects I had to place on the back-burner due to time and budget constraints. In retrospect, I'm actually really glad we waited. When it comes to projects around the house, I'm finding it's best to wait until inspiration strikes, and then to wait even longer just to make sure it's something I'll be happy with for a good long time.

In the case of the dining room, our previous lighting came from an old white ceiling fan that wasn't obnoxious enough to warrant immediate removal, but wasn't us either. We knew it would eventually need to go, so we'd look through the lighting section at stores and online on a regular basis, hoping something would jump out at us.

For me, it was the big hanging pendant lights that caught my eye. I was drawn to their simple, industrial aesthetic, and I knew that replacing our ceiling fan with one of these would pull the space together. It took a few months to convince Matt (I sent him lots and lots of photos from Pinterest), but he eventually warmed up to the idea, so we went to Ikea and picked one out last week.

While we were there, we also brought home a floor lamp for our living room. This particular floor lamp (Ranarp) was one of our top three favorites (with this one and this one), and now that I see how it looks in the living room, I think we made the right choice. It's a simple change, but it really does cozy up the vibe while serving a functional purpose in that I no longer suffer eye strain while reading and knitting at night!

We still have several rooms in the house that need updated lighting, but I already have a pretty good idea where to start. And now that I've seen how big of an impact the light makes on the surrounding space, I'll probably make those updates sooner rather than later.

As for the candles, well... it's just that time of year, isn't it?

Snapshots & Holiday Stress

November 7, 2013

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Current WIP
Baby Spider Plants
Baby Fig Tree
Eggs and Sauteed Bananas for breakfast 
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Handmade candles

Hello everyone! We’re falling right into the holiday season, and I’ve got so many projects in the works right now that I can’t see straight.

If you know me, you know that I have one rule when it comes to projects: one at a time. Working on projects one at a time means I can stay organized, focus my energy, and finish whatever it is I’m working on that much faster.

Well, for the past two weeks, I’ve been working on six major projects all at once, and I’m feeling the burn.

So this week, after running around like a chicken with its head cut off for too long, I finally gave up and decided it was time to prioritize. I’m feeling much calmer now, and much more excited for the holidays. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving dinner with the family, and, per tradition, pulling out the Christmas decorations Thanksgiving night.

And despite my complaints about the stress, I really enjoy having a long list of things to work on furiously until my hands are sore and swollen. I secretly enjoy deadlines, and the relief that comes from completing a project. That relief gives me a huge creative high that sends me sailing into the next project, and the next, and so on.

So that’s why you’ll probably hear me complaining about the stress of the holidays next year, too, because I’ll be repeating the whole process all over again. I just can’t help myself.

Happy Wovember, and a Winner!

November 4, 2013


Are you participating in Wovember this year? Wovember is about celebrating real wool (the kind that actually comes from sheep!) for the entire month of November. According to the site, which is headed by the inspiring Kate Davies, Felicity Ford, and Tom van Deijnen, to get involved with Wovember this month, you can:

* endeavour to wear as MUCH WOOL AS POSSIBLE throughout the month of WOVEMBER, and tell everyone about the unique qualities of WOOL.

* sign the WOVEMBER PETITION to support changes to textile trading standards and product descriptions.

* TALK ABOUT WHAT WOOL MEANS TO YOU throughout WOVEMBER on your blogs, sites, facebook pages, twitter feeds, and other social media.

* PUBLICISE WOVEMBER by sharing our button and linking to this site.

* send us WOVEMBER stories about sheep, wool, knitting, weaving or other endeavours which celebrate WOOL in all its sheepy glory!

* Enter the WOVEMBER COMPETITION by sending us a 100% wool photograph for the WOVEMBER gallery. (Fabulous 100% WOOL prizes are on offer!)

* Have fun.
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I wish I had time to enter the Wovember competition this year. I thought about it long and hard, and I even bought a sweater’s worth of 100% tweedy wool, and had it delivered last week so I could knit myself a warm, woolen cardigan, but alas, I find myself drowning under the weight of too many unfinished projects this month.

So, although my cardigan will have to wait (for now), I’m still participating in Wovember this month by signing the petition, wearing as many 100% woolen garments and accessories as I possibly can, and, of course, sharing about the wonders of wool with you here. If you, too, are interested in participating, just visit the site. It's full of intriguing, rich, wool-related content that will definitely inspire you to knit, crochet, sew, weave, spin, and wear WOOL.

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In other news, congratulations to Manda O. for winning the giveaway for a 5-pack of handmade coasters! Your package is on its way. And thank you to everyone who participated. I had a lot of fun putting it together, and will definitely hold more giveaways in the future.