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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Game?

Just for fun. She's learned to do something new. 2 years and 3 months old. Not too bad!
 

Friday, November 22, 2013

my soap story


Someone asked me today why I make soap. I told her that I am a maker at heart and I love the process of making soap and I’d love to run my own creative business. And all of that is true. But it’s not the whole story.

So here’s the rest of the story, and what I wish I could have said:

I started selling on etsy to sell crocheted things. I’ve always crocheted. I love it and I’m good at it. Selling it is a great way to feed my yarn addiction. Other folks on etsy raved about handmade soap. A lot. So about 6 years ago, I bought some. It’s relatively inexpensive – usually between 5 and 10 dollars – so it was an easy impulse buy. I got it, used it, and I have not bought commercially-made soap or body wash since. If you’ve never used handmade soap, you literally don’t know what you’re missing. It is a completely different product from the stuff you are buying at the store. The fragrances are incredible. The rich creamy lather, the natural moisturizing properties, the additions of ground oatmeal, natural clays, pumice, poppy seeds…It is wonderful.

Not long after, my family tipped into a financial black hole that we are still trying to recover from. We went for a multi-year stretch where either my husband had a job or I had a job. At one point I actually got laid off the EXACT DAY he was hired. We were on a $20 a week grocery budget. One time we pulled up the floormats in the car to dig out coins so we would have dinner. I often worried whether or not I had enough gas to get to work. We had 1 car, 1 phone, no a/c or heat until my water line froze so my dad got the gas turned on. It is only because of the generosity of our friends and family that we were not homeless.

Every day the questions run through your head. Are we going to eat all week? Are they going to shut off my water today? If they shut it off, how can we get it turned back on? That’s another 35 bucks I don’t have. What am I going to do about that bald tire? No haircuts, so learn to love ponytails. No new clothes, so don’t wear anything out. No takeout on the way home because you’re too tired to cook. Turning down lunch invites at work. Not participating in food days or secret santa. Eating popcorn for lunch because it’s 75 cents. I know we have been luckier than many and I am so grateful for the many blessings we have. But week after week and month after never-ending month, it wears you down.  

So I gave up haircuts and clothes and colored my scuffed shoes with a sharpie. But I bought handmade soap. I could still justify it as a (semi) practical item. I still had to have soap of some kind and I could usually dig up $10 every 2 or 3 months. I would research in advance to plan for the next bar I was going to buy. I bought grab-bags and imperfect bars to get the most value for my money. And I loved spending that money. Having the ability to get something you want is incredible. Now that my situation is somewhat better, I still don’t take that for granted. It seemed to make everything easier. Watching my friends go out to dinner without me. Staying home on Saturdays so I didn’t have to spend gas money. Hearing people talk about their new cars and their new tv’s and  what they are buying for Christmas… I have never considered myself spoiled or overly materialistic, but when your answer to “What do you want for Christmas?” is “hopefully a mop because I’m tired of cleaning the floor with a washcloth”….it’s a little depressing. Somehow the act of shopping for, purchasing and having handmade goat’s milk soap with exfoliating ground coffee made it a little better.

We’ve been consistently simultaneously employed for over a year, and things are better and slowly improving still. And I’ve started making my own soap, and other products. What I said today is true, I do love making it and I have to be making something. But, as melodramatic as it sounds, soap is personal to me. My goal is to make my soap business full-time. But my dream is to be able to help someone else find what I found in handmade soap – a little luxury in an un-luxurious life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas countdown!


It's the time of year again. As crazy as that feels, it's true. Time to start thinking about Christmas gifts, if you haven't already. When it comes to Christmas gifts, there are really 2 things I appreciate most:

-practical gifts-yes, I am the woman who actually wants a toaster for Christmas. One time I spent weeks trying to convince a friend that I really did want a mop for a gift. I really did!

-handmade gifts-because handmade is awesome

So here are some links to 5 awesome handmade gifts you may want to consider this year, followed up with a quick and easy sugar scrub by yours truly.

1. Givember Massage Oil on the incredible Soap Queen blog.

http://images.soapqueen.com/Givember%20Massage%20Oil/Givember-Massage-Oil_B_700.jpg
You should be able to find these ingredients at your local craft store or natural foods store. If you can't find jojoba, you can always sub it, or leave it out. If you're going to use something else, you want an oil that has a long shelf life and absorbs quickly into the skin, like sweet almond oil. But of course, it's always best to follow the recipe as closely as possible.

2. The Easiest Body Butter Bars Ever by lovely Marie at humblebeeandme.com.

13-10-13-pic09
These really are the easiest body butter bars ever. 1 ingredient and they make you smell like you've been dipped in chocolate. Seriously, there's no reason not to make these.
 
3. Detox Bath Soak by Katie at one of my favorite blogs: wellnessmama.com
Three Healing Detox Bath Recipes 3 Natural Detox Bath Recipes
I recommend trying the Clay Detox Bath. It's simple and all the ingredients are dry, so it would be an easy one to gift. Make sure you package it in a glass or plastic container. The bentonite clay loses some of it's detox power when it comes into contact with metal. Again, that's an ingredient you should be able to get at your local heath or natural foods store.
 
4. Homemade Floral Waters by the incomparable Hildablue

homemade floral waters How To Recognize Quality Rose Water – And How To Make Your Own
These are wonderful instructions on how to infuse flowers or herbs in distilled water. If you feel up to something a bit more complex, there's a link on that page to some great diy products made from the infused water!
 
5. Moisturizing Bath Candy by one of the best blogs around, Crunch Betty

These were originally done as a Valentine's diy gift, but there's no reason these wouldn't be perfect for Christmas as well. Especially if you get a Christmas tree or gingerbread man tray. These are similar to the body butter, but with an added exfoliating aspect. I recommend trying the lavender chocolate or chocomint versions. The ingredients for these should be pretty easy to find. And how perfect is a chocolate mint scent for the Holidays!
 
And finally, a simple sugar scrub recipe using things you probably already have in your kitchen:
 
 - 1 cup white or brown sugar
 - 1/2 cup skin-loving oil such as sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil or virgin olive oil. Or any combination of these if your feeling fancy.
 
Mix well and place in a mason jar, bail jar or other container for gifting. That's it. Seriously. You can dress it up by adding a few drops of essential oil, fragrance oil, coffee grounds, tea leaves, a dash of cinnamon, pumpkin spice or nutmeg...this is the part where you can be creative! If you've never tried exfoliating scrubs with oil, they are addicting. And the sugar is a mild enough exfoliant that you can use it every day. It's even safe for use on your face.
 
So try one or all of these and let me know how it goes! Check back next week for my diy gift ideas!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ketchup

Been away far too long. Getting prepared for a craft fair next Saturday. I don't think I've stopped moving for 2 weeks. So much to do!

Like this:




And this:

And this other one:

Plus a bunch more stuff. For updates on all of that, I'm posting pics semi-regularly on my facebook page, so go there and like me :)

In the meantime, check out this awesome link from buzzfeed: 15 Things You Should Never Say to a Crafter. And allow me to add one more I am sure I will hear on Saturday: "I'm not going to buy that. I could make that." True. But will you?

Friday, October 18, 2013

New single crochet tutorial


Check it out! Leave me a comment here or on youtube. Let me know what you think!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Hey, you got mud on your face

Well, I do anyway. And you should. Since I've started making my own, I really love clay masks. French green clay...sea clay...kaolin clay...all of it. But today, it's calcium bentonite clay.

If you google this stuff, you will find people that say it is a cure for everything. You can even buy it in pills. I don't take the pills and I don't think it will do even a quarter of what everyone says it will do. But it does make awesome face masks. It's commonly used in detox wraps, masks and soaks. The idea is that the natural negative ionic charge in the clay draws positively charged toxins to itself and helps draw them out of your body.  And the bonus is that it's pretty readily available. I bought a big ol' giant jar from my local natural foods store.

Unlike the French green clay and honey mask, this one dries  solid.

So here's what you do:

Take about a tablespoon of calcium bentonite clay. It's kind of a pale greenish color and very powdery.
Mix that with about the same amount of raw apple cider vinegar. You can really use whatever liquid you want - water, honey, skin-friendly oil, milk....For bentonite clay, I just prefer apple cider vinegar. When you add the vinegar to the clay it will fizz up like baking soda and vinegar.
Stir until thoroughly mixed. And notice what I'm using? Glass bowl, plastic spoon. You don't want to use any metal with calcium bentonite clay. Metal can eliminate the natural negative charge in the clay and reduce some of it's benefits. Stick to plastic, glass or wood.
Once it's thoroughly mixed, spread it on your face. It's best to avoid your eyes and lips, although this mix is completely non-toxic and you could eat it if you wanted to. It would taste like mud mixed with vinegar though. Doesn't sound too appetizing.
As it dries, you can feel the mask tighten. You can also feel your pulse in your face. Remember how I said this mask dries?
I meant it. Total scale-face. Now, if you reach this point and you try to wipe your face with a washcloth, it will hurt. Like...well, pulling scales across your face. Do your face a favor, and wet the mask down first. If you get it nice and wet, it will soften up the clay and let you wipe it off easily.

Afterword, you skin may be quite red. Mine gets red and blotchy. That will fade quickly. It's a result one of the benefits of the mask - increased circulation to your skin. Afterwords you'll want to moisturize. I like to use a cocoa butter & coconut oil body butter. But you could use straight coconut or olive oil or whatever facial moisturizer you prefer.

Give it a try and leave me a comment. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

No Poo for me, thank you!

Yay! I did it, I finally did it. I cracked the no-poo code. For me at least.

In case you don't already know, no-poo means going without shampoo. You still wash your hair, just without using shampoo.

Here's the theory behind it:

Your scalp produces oils that keep your skin and hair moisturized, healthy and shiny. When you shampoo to remove dirt and grime that gets into it, you are also removing these healthy oils. Your scalp is now very dry so it overproduces oil, which makes your hair oily. So you wash it to remove the oiliness, so now your scalp is very dry and it overproduces oil. So you wash it..... Get the picture?

I've been kicking around the no-poo idea for some time, but I haven't quite been able to make the leap. The 2 biggest reasons are that shampoo and conditioner are just so easy to buy. And, hey, it works. The other big one is most no-poo methods have a transition period. Your scalp is still overproducing oils until it gets adjusted to the oils not being stripped out every day. My hair tends to be greasy anyway. And I have to go to work at my day job. I can't deal with 1-2 weeks of greasy oily hair.

I tried the baking soda/apple cider vinegar thing for a bit. Doing the measuring and adjusting was a lot of work to cram into my already busy life when the shampoo bottle was sitting right there on the edge of the tub. Also, the water in the bottle was so COLD! I hated pouring that cold baking soda water all over my head in the morning. Plus there was the oily in-transition hair. That just didn't work for me.  Since then I've read some things about how putting your hair through the ph change from the soda to the vinegar can actually be damaging to your hair.

I considered some handmade ideas - still am considering them. But until I get that worked out, I've discovered a winner! CONDITIONER!

Seriously, conditioner. No shampooing, just conditioner.

There's 2 tricks to this method.

1, you have to get a sulfate-free conditioner. Mostly these are advertised as sulfate-free. If you check the ingredient list, you're looking for sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. There are many kinds available. I'm using Suave Naturals. Readily available, and cost-effective.

2, you have to leave it on for at least 10 minutes. This is a big one. The first 2 days I did conditioner only, I just put it on like shampoo and rinsed it out. My hair was like a oil-slick. Sooooo bad. The 2nd day, my boss actually said something to me about it. Ugh. I knew I had to either get a way around it, or give up. So I consulted the all-knowing google and I read that you should leave it in before rinsing. So I "lather" (it doesn't actually lather, but it's the same idea) it into my hair, leave it while I do the rest of my showering, and rinse it out last thing. Sometimes I do an extra "normal" conditioning with it on the ends. And it's PERFECT! No adjustment, no oil. Just clean, good-smelling, manageable hair.

I still do it everyday, but I plan to start going to every other day soon. Baby steps, you know?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Let's talk about armpits!

Seriously, I want to talk about armpits. Unless you're a coworker I've given this url to, in which case you should skip this post. In fact, you should entirely forget that I have armpits. Why don't you skip directly to the laundry detergent post. That's a nice post. Everyone else, you can keep reading.

So I tend to DIY things. I always have. Since I've moved on from soap to other body products, I've seen several recipes for deodorant and I'm a bit intrigued. I don't really like using antiperspirants. I keep doing it because, well, you have to right? Don't want to be stinky. But I have issues with discoloration and ingrown hairs. I'm very self-conscious about it. I remember at prom I didn't want to raise my arms and now 10 years later, it still bothers me. Underarms shouldn't be that big a deal... Also, antiperspirants always leave that film that never seems to wash off. Coating your skin that completely can't be good for it. It just can't be.

So I started reading labels, taking what I know of ingredients and labeling from soaping. Here's what I've come up with.

Since antiperspirants reduce sweating, that makes them a drug. There's a drug statement on the back. They are evaluated by the FDA as a drug. Think about that. It's a DRUG product that you use every day without even a second thought. Wow.

Antiperspirants contain aluminum. Yeah, you're rolling aluminum under your arms. Aluminum from antiperspirants has been very loosely linked to increased risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer's. People without fully functioning kidneys are advised to avoid antiperspirants. Now, all these "dangers" are completely unproven. There's no solid evidence that antiperspirants have any health effects whatsoever. There are also no studies that clearly refute these alleged effects, so I list them so you can decide what you think.

They work by plugging your sweat ducts. It absorbs into your skin causing it to swell which pinches off the sweat glands. Ew.

I've never been one to medicate unnecessarily and I prefer to use more natural products where I can. There's just no reason not to. So last week I decided to ditch my antiperspirant and give deodorant a try. If you want to try and your not sure if you have a deodorant or antiperspirant, just look at the back. Antiperspirants have drug labeling, deodorants have cosmetic labeling. So if the back looks like the back of an aspirin bottle, you've got yourself an antiperspirant.

I went with Tom's, which actually doesn't have great online reviews. But they have it at my grocery store and I thought it would be fine for a trial. If it really sucks, I will know not to bother putting time, money and effort into trying out recipes to make my own. If it works...well, I hope it works.

So far, I'm happy with it. It feels completely different when you put it on. It feels like solid lotion (which if you've never tried, you definitely should).  I doesn't last all day, but it lasts through my work day. And yesterday I went out to the park in the morning for 2-3 hours and I was still sweet-smelling when I got home. No final word yet on the skin issues I had with antiperspirants, but I do know it doesn't leave that film, so that's a good sign.

So far, it's a positive trial. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on a good deodorant recipe or different brand to try, let me know!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Full Disclosure

You know, the weird thing about blogging is not that perfect strangers may be reading your random musing or details about your life...It's that people you KNOW might read it.

Strange thought, huh?

I don't know about you, but I share information selectively. Not because I'm keeping secrets, it's just that the information I share with my mother is different than the information I share with my friends, or my in-laws, or my boss. Not on the internet. You put it out there and it is OUT THERE. Out there for anybody and everybody. Like Facebook on steroids.

So maybe some one will read this and maybe no one will. Maybe the reader is a stranger. And maybe the reader is my pastor or my cousin.

Who knows?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Honey & Cinnamon Clay Mask

I have to say, insomnia is good for my blog. I can sure get some posting done while I ought to be sleeping.

So, anyway, yesterday I made a run over to a local natural market. It's the first time I've ever been in there (crazy, right!) but the closest one is 30 minutes away in crazy traffic. I just never get down there at all. I think I've discovered my mecca. I think I picked up every single bottle and jar in the place. While I was there I picked up some French Green Clay and a jar of local honey. So last night I decided to do a mask!

I'm not crazy about the masks you can buy at the supermarket. They are so chemically and pricey. Here's a super simple 3-ingredient mask that feels great. And if you accidentally get it too close to your mouth, it tastes like honey. Bonus!

2 tbsp. French Green Clay or your clay of choice
1 to 1 1/2 tsp raw honey
pinch or 2 of cinnamon

At my market, they had bulk green clay you could buy by the pound and they had pre-packaged jars. I bought a good-sized jar for $5. Cosmetic grade French Green Clay is used to draw out oils and toxins. It's also said to be good for toning and tightening pores.

Honey is moisturizing and naturally antibacterial and full of nutrients. Some people swear that it's great for acne-prone skin.

Cinnamon..well it smells great with the honey. But besides that, it is also antibacterial and it causes increased blood flow, which can help plump the skin (reduce the appearance of wrinkles) and make your skin rosy. It also works as a mild exfoliant while you rub on the mask.

Cinnamon can irritate your skin, especially if you have an cut or sore or if you are allergic to cinnamon. Even without that, you don't want to use it more than about once a week.

Monster Face!
 
Freaked my daughter out. She didn't run away, but she couldn't stop staring! Then she decided it was funny, lol.
 
 
So...about 20 minutes. I left mine on longer...I was folding laundry. A honey mask won't harden. Next time, the hair goes in a ponytail!
 
Try it! Hey, after you do, leave me a comment, here or on my facebook page, and let me know how it goes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

An Ode to Soap

Well, not so much an ode as a diatribe...Ode to Soap just sounds better than Diatribe on Soap...

I'm a bit of a soap junkie. About 3 years ago I used handmade soap for the first time and I've never gone back. It smelled better. It felt better on my skin. The lather is less bubbly, but it's thick and luxurious. I knew there had to be some difference between this soap and store-bought soap...turns out, there is.

Soap cleans as an emulsifier. That's a fancy word to describe a natural molecular process that's pretty incredible. If you've ever tried to rinse an oily pan or wash grease off your hands, you know you can't do that with just water. Oil, including oil from your skin, does not dissolve in water, so water won't wash it away. Emulsifiers have molecules that have one side that attracts oil and one side that attracts water. So it forms teeny molecule balls that surround oil molecules, with the oil-loving side inside and the water-loving side facing out towards the water. Neat, huh?

Many store-bought soaps, especially liquid soaps, are not actually soap. They are detergents, which don't contain emulsifiers. They use surfactants, which work in a similar way and reduce the surface tension of water. The thing about detergents is that they usually contain ingredients derived from petroleum by-products. It's pretty easy to tell if your soap is really a soap. The only FDA labeling requirement for soaps is that they say, well, SOAP. So, if it says soap, it's soap. If not, it's not.

Commercial soap also usually contains some questionable ingredients: parabens, sulfates and triclosan, to name a few.

Another big difference is a big difference! Soap-making is a chemical process that produces glycerin. The glycerin doesn't completely wash away. It stays on your skin, pulling moisture out of the air and keeping it close to your skin. It is moisturizing by nature. When soap is made in factories, they generally pull out a portion of the glycerin to sell or to use in other products, like the lotion they make to moisturize your skin since your soap is drying.....hmm......

Another difference is that most handmade soap is "super-fatted." Because soap-making takes lye, and lye is caustic, soapers will add extra fats - olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, etc - to make sure that there's no leftover lye in the mix. What that means for you is extra moisture, usually 2-7%, build right into the bar.

Besides all the science stuff, I also like the fancy shapes and incredible scents and additives (oatmeal, honey & shea, anyone?) and I like the idea of supporting small-scale producers.

I've since moved on to making my own soap, but I still love to try out other handmade soaps...and body butters, and sugar scrubs, and clay masks, and bath teas.....And I highly recommend that you do too : )

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I was a high school virgin....and I'm glad

So.....way personal today. I've been mulling over whether or not I should post this. I usually don't get quite so personal in such a public forum. But it keeps coming back up in my mind.

I was a virgin in high school. And college. As a matter of fact, I've had sex with one person in my life and that happens to be the person I am married to.

I made the decision when I was 13 that I would "save myself." Now, at the time, there were religious reasons for this decision. But I am glad that I made that decision for so many reasons beyond religion.

1. I never had to worry about pregnancy. I keep seeing all these girls in my hometown who are having babies. I don't think it's the end of the world. And I believe that these young women can, and often do, become wonderful mothers. And I am sure that they love their children. But I do not envy their position in life. The changes that come to your body and your life, your thought processes, your responsibilities....I cannot imagine dealing with that at such a young age.  Besides an actual pregnancy, I never even had the thought enter my mind. After having pregnancy scares as a married, employed adult, I don't think I would have dealt well with one as a dependent minor.

2. I never had to worry about STDs. 'Nough said.

3. I didn't have to "sneak around." Really? I have to worry about good grades, college applications, concerts, social activities, not becoming a total social pariah, my responsibilities at home AND I want to add to that keeping up with what lie I'm telling to what person and "shh, my parents will hear"? I don't think so.

4. Stress less. It seems like there is so much stress around sex. When will I be "ready?" Should it be with this guy or not? When is it time? 5 dates? 3 months? 90 days? Should I be on birth control? What do my friends think? Since I made an actual decision that the answer is always no, I never had to worry about that question. Am I ready or not? The answer is no. Should it be him? The answer is no. After prom? The answer is no.

Also, I didn't keep it a secret. That seems pretty weird, but it's true. I don't mean I walked around wearing a "VIRGIN" t-shirt or introduce myself with "Hi, I'm not having sex with you" but I wasn't ashamed of it. It's a perfectly acceptable life-choice; I even think it's a commendable one. If someone asked me, I would tell them. And I kind of had a reputation as a good-girl, so it wasn't like it was a surprise.

According to the Office of Adolescent Health, 1511 girls aged 15-18 in Arkansas had a baby. That's about 2.5% of the total population. 8% of high school students said they had sex before they were 13. 13!! At 13 I was still a little sad about giving up my Barbie dolls to my sisters.

I think the teenage years are an awkward time. You are choosing between childhood and adulthood, and not really fitting in in either place. I'm glad that I made the decision that I did. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely choose the same thing. Virgin and proud.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Baby photography without the baby

I have this pile of baby hats just sitting....I want to list them for sale, but I've got to get the photography handled first.

Of course, ideally, I would photograph a baby hat ON a baby.

 
But since I don't have access to a baby...well, I'm working on some professional photography options, but we all know I'm not patient enough to wait on that.
 
There is always the photograph-it-flat option, which can look quite lovely...
 
 
And an many different prop options...
 
 
And of course baby dolls and stuffed animals
 
So, I guess I just have to decide the right kind of props for me...
 
Click on the photos to learn more about the lovely products pictured. And wish me luck!
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 


Thursday, July 11, 2013

$12 + 20 minutes = 3 months of laundry detergent



So, my laundry detergent recipe is posted here.

I said it lasted a little over 3 months. Well, today is officially the end-date on that bottle of detergent. From the 1st load on March 12th to the last load tonight. And my clothes look and feel super clean and smell fresh. And, thanks to the scent crystals, spring garden-y.

Seriously, try it. Try it now.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why can't expecting parents be honest?

I read an article on yahoo Friday. This one. It's an article from a mother expecting twins - a follow up from her husband's article.

What really struck me about the article were the comments in response to it. Now, I know that user comments tend to be extremist and crap. When you are posting anonymously to someone you don't know, you feel more free to say whatever you want, I guess.


I only have never had twins. I've never tried IFV or any fertility method. My daughter was not exactly planned, but not exactly unexpected.  Throughout my pregnancy everyone wanted me to be excited and happy. Every time someone mentioned my soon-to-be baby they would stare at me. Waiting for me to jump with joy or burst into spontaneous giggles. It was like if I didn't act happy enough, I was judged on it. There is so much judgment in parenting. As soon as you tell people you are pregnant, they start telling you what to do, what not to do and how to feel. So we hide. We hide that ham sandwich, because you shouldn't eat cold cooked meats. We hide our uncertainty because you are supposed to be happy.

Well, here's my dose of honesty.

I wanted my daughter. I love my daughter. I wouldn't change her for anything. I love her when she smiles. I love her when she says "Night night. Love you." I love her when she screams and when she throws up on me. But I hated being pregnant.

I hated every second. There was no part of it I liked. I was not even excited to have my baby. I just hated it. I quit talking to people and going places. If I had to talk to somebody, it wouldn't be good for anybody. I practically breathed fire and shot lasers out my eyes.

When I was about 7 months pregnant, I ventured out to my nephew's birthday party. I settled myself in a chair I knew I would not be able to get out of. My back hurt, my allergies were bad, I couldn't breath and my hands and feet were so swollen they hurt. My sister-in-law came in, rushed up to be and put her hands on my belly. "Oh my gosh, aren't you so excited!!!"

I almost punched her in the face. I couldn't even respond. I ended up just staring at her like she had grown a second head until she gave up waiting for a response. Excited? No. Heck no. No, wrapped in no, with some no on top.

This was all besides the worry. What will we do for childcare? How will we afford the things we need?

People would ask me things and the answer was always "I don't care." What color are we going to paint her room? I don't care. What kind of cake do I want at the shower? I don't care. Even when we were picking names; we kind of chose her first name together and then I just agreed with the first middle name my husband suggested. Because I didn't care.

But I couldn't say any of that to people. I had to be excited.

We had already decided we would only have one child. And I'm glad. I love her so much I can't even describe it, but with my difficult recovery and how much I hated pregnancy...I am just not willing to volunteer for that again.

And that was all without the added stress of dealing with a young son, the guilt of feeling responsible for unintended consequences, and the fear of dealing with two babies with colic. I was lucky to have avoided that with my daughter, but I know colic - it's not for wimps. A baby that screams 23 hours a day, every day? It's enough to make you lose your grip on reality. If I thought I was facing that, times two, at the end of the pregnancy I hated? Well, I would be less than happy about that prospect.

So, I say good luck to Paula and her husband. I hope these boys are born sweet and colic-free. Chances of that are pretty good. But if they aren't, you'll get through it anyway. Everything comes to an end. Even long nights sitting up with screaming babies. And miserable pregnancies.  I think having at least some sense of dread is ok...normal even. So I also say thanks for not sugar-coating things - for being honest.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shop Update

Well, I did it. I am once again listing finished products for sale in my etsy store. There aren't a lot so far, but I'm adding as I can. I also have some newborn hats that I am very excited about. I just need to figure out how to photograph them without having access to a newborn baby.....

I've got the ever-popular Lydia up right now













Plus newbies Natalie                                                                       and Charlotte
 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Love me, love my tardiness



I've figured it out...There's some kind of strange time continuum that breaks down while I am getting ready in the morning. It makes time slower in my house while it continues to pass by at a normal speed in the rest of the world. Namely, my office.

I have adult ADHD, which is it's own special kind of nutso. It's different as an adult than a child. I've never been medicated, but I've always coped pretty well. Now though.... It's been one of those...years. Everything in my life is unsettled right now because of outside circumstances and my little ADHD brain is having trouble coping. As a result, my house is trashed, my work at my day job is not as high quality as it should be and I'm late. Always. For everything.

It's ridiculous. I'm a grown up adult person. I should be able to show up on time. I've tried getting up early, I've tried getting more done before I go to bed, I've: tried setting my clocks 5 minutes ahead, -:I've tried changing my schedule at work to the so I work 8:15 to 5:15. Doesn't work. I am still 2 or 3 minutes late. For church it's more likely to be 15 minutes late. Yesterday I was up about an hour early and I still was 3 minutes late for work, I forgot to put in my contacts, didn't put on any jewelry and forgot deodorant. Good thing I work in the air conditioning.

So... I give up. I'm late. I'm always late. I'm always going to be late. When I get there I will do an awesome job and I will leave 5 minutes late to go home....but I will show up late.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Crochet Tutorial - Chain

Got a new tutorial. Still on the basics. This one is chains.

There's a slow motion section, abbreviation explanations for yarn over and chain and at the end it tells you what to do if you accidentally drop a loop as you are chaining. Which was completely not on purpose, by the way. I guess there is such a thing as a happy accident :)

If you liked it, subscribe to my channel! There are more videos on the way. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crochet Tutorial - Slip Knot

Ah, the slip knot. It seems like a lot of beginner crocheters go to a class, or go visit their aunt or whatever, learn a few crochet basics. And then go home and can't remember how to do a slip knot. And if you can't do a slip knot, you can't start anything.

I made a video of a few different methods, including all of them in slow motion so it's easier to follow along.  Let me know what you think!

If you liked it, subscribe to my channel! There are more videos on the way. Also, be sure to Like https://www.facebook.com/TangledArts

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Coming up

It's been slow on the blog. My family has run into a small, and hopefully temporary, crisis. But I am also working on some new things that I am excited about. I'm drafting some new baby patterns. 3 girl hats are currently in the works.

I am also starting a YouTube vlog with beginner crochet tutorials, working up to more complicated things. I also want to use it to post pattern-support videos for my patterns that I get the most questions about. That would be the pattern stitch in Morgan and how to form the Mobius in 2 cowl patterns arriving soon: Quinn and Charlotte.

In the meantime, if you make something based off one of the free patterns listed here or any of my paid patterns, I would love to see them! Comment, email me at TangledArts@gmail.com or put up a ravelry project page. Love seeing those FO's!

And here are some gratuitous pictures of my face. (That first one is Quinn, btw)



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Crochet How-To One-Piece Mobius

I'm a big fan of the one-piece Mobius. A Mobius gives a nice shape and drape to a piece. You can achieve a Mobius by just crocheting a rectangle and adding a twist before joining. I use that technique in Chloe. BUT I am not a big fan of seaming. It seems so tedious. And when I finish crocheting something, I want to be done with it. I don't want to have to do a bunch of sewing.
 
This technique for a one-piece Mobius forms a seamless piece. I've used this method in two soon-to-be released cowl patterns: Quinn and Charlotte.
 
The technique is really quite easy, but it's a little difficult to explain in writing. So I created a simple, short tutorial video to help explain.
 
 
 
More crochet tutorials are on their way, so be sure to check here or my YouTube channel often. Also, you can stay up-to-date with everything going on with TangledArts including new free patterns by becoming a fan on Facebook.  Thanks for watching!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Button Elephant

Sometimes I just need a break from crochet. I know, I know, it's hard to believe. But it's true nonetheless.

So, what do you do on a crochet break? Craft something else, of course!

There's a project I've been meaning to do for a while, so I broke out my glue gun and here is the result:


Sorry for the blurry pic. I'll try for a better one later.)


I basically followed the fabulous tutorial by Busted Button.

I made a few very minor changes. I did not use her elephant outline; I did my own. I also put it on fabric in an embroidery hoop instead of on a frame. I like hoops. I thought about sewing the buttons on instead of gluing them, but then I wouldn't have been able to make more than one layer, which makes it more dense so less fabric shows through the buttons on the elephant. Plus the layering is super cute.

Overall, I like it. I wish I had made the yarn for the flowers (balloons?) a little straighter. I was trying to make it not quite straight and I ended up going too far the other way. But once it's glued, it's glued, so I'm calling it fine, lol.

It was also really quick. I did it all in one evening after my daughter went to bed. (Hot glue + 18-month-old = trouble)

This is now hanging in Sofia's room and it goes great with her paisley elephant curtains.

So.....I have two more embroidery hoops.......

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FREE PATTERN - Basic Chunky Earflap Hat

It's a bit out of season, but here is the pattern for Kara:

.

Materials:

  3oz bulky (5) yarn
Crochet hook size J (6mm)
Yarn needle

Rnd 1: Ch 2, work 8 hdc in 2nd ch from hook; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc; turn.  (8 hdc)

Rnd 2: Ch 1 (does not count as hdc here or throughout), work 2 hdc in same stitch and in each stitch around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc; turn.  (16 hdc)

Rnd 3: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in same stitch as join, hdc in next stitch, *2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in next stitch; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc; turn.  (24 hdc)

Rnd 4: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in same stitch as join, hdc in each of the next 2 stitches, *2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in each of the next 2 stitches; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc; turn.  (32 hdc)

Rnd 5: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in same stitch as join, hdc in each of the next 3 stitches, *2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in each of the next 3 stitches; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc; turn.  (40 hdc)

Rnd 6: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in same stitch as join, hdc in each of the next 4 stitches, *2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in each of the next 4 stitches; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc; turn.  (48 hdc)

Rnd 7: Ch 1, hdc in same stitch and in each stitch around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc; turn.  (48 hdc)

Rnd 8-14: Repeat Rnd 7.

First Earflap

Rnd 15: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 8 hdc; turn.  (8 hdc)

Rnd 16: Ch 1, hdc2tog over next 2 hdc, hdc in each of the next 4 hdc, hdc2tog over last 2 hdc; turn

Rnd 17: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 6 hdc; turn. (6 hdc)

Rnd 18: Ch 1, hdc2tog over next 2 hdc, hdc in each of the next 2 hdc, hdc2tog over last 2 hdc; turn

Rnd 19: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 4 hdc; turn.  (4 hdc)
Rnd 20: Ch 1, hdc2tog over next 2 hdc, hdc2tog over last 2 hdc; turn

Rnd 21: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 2 hdc; turn.  (2 hdc)

Rnd 22: Ch 1, hdc2tog. Fasten off.

Second Earflap

Skip 16 sts from 1st earflap along Rnd 14. Join yarn with a slip stitch to the 17th stitch.

 
Rnd 15: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 8 hdc; turn.  (8 hdc)

Rnd 16: Ch 1, hdc2tog over next 2 hdc, hdc in each of the next 4 hdc, hdc2tog over last 2 hdc; turn

Rnd 17: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 6 hdc; turn. (6 hdc)

Rnd 18: Ch 1, hdc2tog over next 2 hdc, hdc in each of the next 2 hdc, hdc2tog over last 2 hdc; turn

Rnd 19: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 4 hdc; turn.  (4 hdc)
Rnd 20: Ch 1, hdc2tog over next 2 hdc, hdc2tog over last 2 hdc; turn

Rnd 21: Ch 1, hdc in each of the next 2 hdc; turn.  (2 hdc)

Rnd 22: Ch 1, hdc2tog.

Edging

Ch 1, sc in same stitch, work 5 sc evenly along side of earflap, sc2tog over edge of earflap and next hdc of Rnd 14; sc in each hdc to stitch before next earflap, sc2tog over next hdc and edge of earflap, work 5 sc evenly along edge of earflap to point, [2 sc, ch 2, 2 sc] in point, work 5 sc evenly along side of earflap, sc2tog over edge of earflap and next hdc of Rnd 14; sc in each hdc to stitch before next earflap, sc2tog over next hdc and edge of earflap, work 5 sc evenly along edge of earflap to point, [2 sc, ch 2] in point, join with a slip stitch to 1st ch 1. Fasten off.

Ties

Cut 6 2-foot lengths of yarn, loop through ch-2 space at peak of one earflap and braid, holding 2 strands together. Knot end. Repeat at other earflap.



Thursday, April 25, 2013

FREE PATTERN - crochet boyfriend beanie: Alex

I like this beanie a lot. It's super quick and easy. And the hdc's make it stretchy, comfortable and versatile.













Materials:

2 oz bulky (5) yarn
Crochet hook size N (10mm)
Yarn needle

Rnd 1: Ch 2, work 8 hdc in 2nd ch from hook; join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc. (8 hdc)
Rnd 2: Ch 1 (does not count as hdc here or throughout), work 2 hdc in each stitch around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc. (16 hdc)
Rnd 3: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in same stitch as joining, hdc in next stitch, *2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in next stitch; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc. (24 hdc)
Rnd 4: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in same stitch as joining, hdc in each of the next 2 stitches, *2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in each of the next 2 stitches; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc. (32 hdc)
Rnd 5: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in same stitch as joining, hdc in each of the next 3 stitches, *2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in each of the next 3 stitches; repeat from * around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc. (40 hdc)
Rnd 6-15: Ch 1, hdc in each stitch around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Fasten off.
Use yarn needle to weave in ends.
Wear it while drinking the warm beverage of your choice!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cookie-filled Sandwich Cookies

So I am waaaaaay behind. I had a stomach bug last weekend that just knocked me down. I can function through just about anything except a stomach bug. It's incredible how behind you can get in 3 days. It's like I'll never catch up.

On the bright side, we had food day at work. :)

I was going to make chocolate-chip dip...and then I decided I had a better idea.

You need:

1 box (8 oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2 boxes of chocolate chip cookies
almond bark


Set out the butter and cream cheese to soften. Or, if you're like me, buy them at the store and make these as soon as you get home, lol. Cream the butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl. You can use a mixer, but I used a fork. Apparently the amount of time it takes for me to finish shopping, driver home and unload groceries is just enough to get cream cheese soft enough to mix with a fork.

Stir in the brown sugar, powdered sugar and vanilla.


 
 

Once these are well mixed, stir in the chocolate chips. You can stop here and use it as dip if you want, for graham crackers or pretzels or whatever. But trust me, if you continue on, you will not regret it.
 
If you are feeling really ambitious, you can make your own chocolate cookies. At 9:00 at night, I was definitely going for store-bought.
 
Spoon a thin-ish layer onto half the cookies and top with the other half.


Lotsa cookies! (Please excuse the glaring foil pics. Found out I was out of parchment paper after I got back from the store.)



 
Leaving them like this is great, but for food day, I wanted to pretty them up a little bit.


So I half-dipped them in chocolate almond bark. I don't have a double-boiler, but I have two saucepan that work ok.
 
Perfect!
 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Some days

A woman at work quit today. Normally a non-event.

She just returned from maternity leave, worked less than a week and quit.

It's reawakened this terrible desire I have to be home with my daughter. I have nothing against working mothers. Some mothers are happier and better mothers when they work outside the home. I am not one of those people. I would make a great Donna Reed. I was made to be a homemaker and it kills me that I can't.

I am so lucky that my daughter can stay with family. I am incredibly grateful for that. I am so lucky in so many ways. I like my job. I like my boss. But I hate going there. I hate it every day. I can't help thinking of all the things I am missing-about how her life would be different.

I would give up anything to be home, but we're already as close to the edge as we can stand. The only thing left to give up is utilities.

I can deal with it. I have no choice and it's really not as bad as it could be. Not as bad as a lot of people have it. But every once in a while she is in a stay-home-and-cuddle mood in the morning, or we had a troublesome night and both want to sleep in, or some slight imagined dig (like the Mother's groups all being at 10 in the morning), or someone I know talks about their stay-at-home-mom day and there's nothing I can do but mourn the missed opportunity.

So today I will sit and cry and look online for work-from-home jobs that don't exist until 2 in the morning. Tomorrow I will go to work and I will hate it. And I'll do my best to make the most of the 3.5 hours I will see my child tomorrow. Saturday we will sleep in all the way until 8:30. We'll eat cinnamon rolls. And I'll try to remember to be grateful for all the things I've been blessed with and let go of the things I can't control.

Until next time she is in a stay-home-and-cuddle mood in the morning, or we had a troublesome night and both want to sleep in, or someone I know talks about their stay-at-home-mom day. And one day she will grow out of stay-home-and-cuddle-moods. And that will be a new thing to try to let go of.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Well done

 
Quote day!
 


Now, this is one I struggle with. I'm good at making plans. Good at figuring out how to do things. Good at seeing the steps needed to get there. Not so good with the doing.

Even when it's small things. I'm good with the build-up, but my follow-through needs work.

At my day job, I struggle through it and manage to finish things. With Tangled Arts....well, I'm working on it. But it seems like in my personal life I have all these lofty goals that I never accomplish.

I think it's a combination of 2 things: laziness and indecisiveness. The laziness, I think is self-explanatory. The indecisiveness is because I can see so many possible end-goals that I can't choose which path to throw myself whole-heartedly into. Like those Choose Your Own Adventure books - I always read every possibility. Sometimes I started at the end and traced the pathway backwards to find the one I liked the best. But in life...well, I guess that's not an option. I'm not unhappy. I am content to be halfway to 30 different goals. At least it keeps life interesting.

But for the girls...I suppose what I hope for them is if they find a dream they can give their whole self too, that they have the courage to do it. And they don't let anything stand in their way, not anything or anyone and especially not their own insecurity. I don't believe that all their dreams will come true. But if they try hard enough and don't get discouraged, I believe they can have at least one.

FREE PATTERN - Jill

Wow! I meant to post this yesterday and I ended up working on my leaky roof instead. Good thing, too, because it's raining now. Fingers crossed for leak-free bedroom!



Materials: 
bulky (5) yarn 
     Color A 
     Color B
Crochet hook size K/6.5MM Yarn needle  

Round 1: With Color A, ch 2, work 8 hdc in 2nd stitch from hook; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Round 2:  Ch 1, work 2 hdc in each stitch around, join with slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Round 3: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in next space, (2 hdc, hdc) around; join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Round 4: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 2 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc, hdc) around; join with slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Round 5: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 3 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc 3x) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Round 6: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 4 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc 4x) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Round 7: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 5 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc 5x) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.
Rounds 8-10: Ch 1, hdc in same stitch and in each stitch around. Join with a slip stitch to 1 st hdc. Switch to Color B at the end of Round 10.  
Rounds 11-14: Ch 1, hdc in same stitch and in each stitch around. Join with a slip stitch to 1 st hdc. Switch to Color A at the end of Round 14. 
Rounds 15-16: Ch 1, hdc in same stitch and in each stitch around. Join with a slip stitch to 1 st hdc.  
Fasten off.
Use a yarn needle to weave in ends.

Next week....well, it will be Kara:












or Alex:












I haven't decided.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's what we DO

"Isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do."

I have to admit, I am not a big Jane Austen fan. I appreciate her work, but I'm never going to pick it as an entertaining read. I find that I do like Austen in small doses. This quote from Sense and Sensibility is a keeper.

I think we are tempted to define ourselves by how we think. And I think we want other people to define us by what we say. But that just isn't the truth.

You may consider yourself charitable because you think charity is a good idea. That's great, but when is the last time you practiced it? You may say that you care for someone, but is it coming through in your behavior? And we all know about saying "no offense" before you say something offensive....yeah, that doesn't work.

The way you behave has the ability to influence your world.

You are only one person, sure. But you are one person, and I am one person, and that guy over there is one person, every singly person you see in the bus window is one person....People like to talk about their ideals, but too often it just stays as talk. If everyone acted on their ideals, how different would the world be?

Another way to follow through with your ideals is with your money. You invest in what you love. I was in a Sunday School class one time that irritated me to no end. It was a class full of older people bemoaning the current state of the world. You know "these kids today" and "when I was a kid" and it ended up coming around to "I remember when every place was closed on Sunday" Now, I don't have an issue with business open on Sunday; I really have no opinion on that. But these people clearly did. At least in their speech. The thing that stuck with me was how many of those people would go to a restaurant or the store after church - supporting the very thing they claim to dislike. Isn't that silly? If you think businesses should be closed on Sunday, I don't think you should patronize businesses on Sunday. Businesses exist to be profitable. If there is not profit in something, they won't pursue it. I think if you think violent video games are bad, you should not buy violent video games, even if there are settings to reduce the level. The companies who sell that game don't know you are dialing down the gore factor. They only know you bought the game. If you're willing to spend money on it, you must support it, right?

What do you think of yourself? Do you believe yourself to be kind or do you admire kindness? Then endeavor to engage in kind actions and avoid those that are not. Do you believe yourself to be trustworthy? Then try your best to only do trustworthy things. Thoughts are powerful and words are powerful, but actions are what people will remember above all other things.

You show your true self through your actions, so make them count.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Puppy!

Yay! New puppy!!

My lab and my cocker spaniel flew the coop about a year ago. They were habitual escape artists. We put concrete blocks and landscaping timbers along the bottom of our fence...they still got out. We put down special spike strips you drive into the ground that are designed to keep dogs from digging out, and they still got out. We chained them to a tree...the lab broke his collar. I tried a metal choke collar, but I was afraid he would hurt himself. Finally he busted out a slat in our privacy fence one morning while I was getting ready for work....And they never turned up. Tagged and microchipped and missing. I can only hope that they found some people who took them in

My daughter is a little older now and at 18 months already thinks she doesn't need me anymore. I was ready for a dog again.

I picked up this sweet little gal at the pound and so far she is incredible.

If you're thinking about a dog, go look your local shelter. Usually, you can also go to www.petfinder.com. Click on it. Go ahead. Click now.

She's 2 years old. Originally adopted from the same shelter as a puppy and very recently abandoned.

So far, no accidents in the house (fingers crossed). I've only heard her bark a handful of times; none of those times were at the shelter. And she's been very good. She will let my little girl take toys away from her. Today, she dropped toys at my daughter's feet while they were playing fetch. And she can take treats from my daughter's hand without nipping her little fingers.

We need to work a little on jumping and staying off the furniture. But so far I am convinced we found exactly what we needed.

Now, we just need to work on a name........

Her shelter name was Cookie. I like Lucy, Roxie, Mabel & Rumba. My husband likes Olimpia (I would say Ollie) for a favorite sports team. Since he is not a dog person, but fortunately he loves his wife, we will probably end up with Olimpia. I'm willing to go with a name he likes in exchange for the dog I like, lol.

Ollie? What do you think?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

FREE PATTERN Bulky Crochet Striped Beanie - Wendi

Promised a free pattern, and here it is:

Materials:



bulky (5) yarn

Color A

Color B

Crochet hook size K/6.5MM

Yarn needle



Alternate colors for each row.



Round 1: Beginning with Color A ch 2, work 8 hdc in 2nd ch from hook. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.



Round 2: Ch 1, work 2 hdc in each stitch around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.



Round 3: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in next space, (2 hdc, hdc) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.



Round 4: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 2 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc, hdc) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.



Round 5: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 3 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc 3x) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.



Round 6: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 4 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc 4x) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.



Round 7: Ch 1, 2 hdc in same space, hdc in each of the next 5 spaces, (2 hdc, hdc 5x) around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc.



Rounds 8-16: Ch 1, hdc in same stitch and in each stitch around. Join with a slip stitch to 1st hdc. Switch to Color B at the end of Round 10.



Fasten off.

Use a yarn needle to weave in ends.