Jumping on the Chalkboard Bandwaggon

Trying too hard to be cool tilted photograph.

Trying too hard to be cool tilted photograph.

Before I get to the chalkboard stuff, I feel like I have some ‘splanin to do. I haven’t posted in a little over a year, but I am back from blog death! Life got a little crazy, a lot busy, and I let the things that make me ME (crafting, making fun of myself, writing) go by the wayside. I’m learning about balance. I can’t do everything all at once. Between work, the doc program, and general life duties, I forgot to add me to the schedule. I’ve found that sometimes I have to work to keep myself healthy (mentally, physically), and now I’ve given myself permission to LIVE. I am the captain of my own ship. Okay enough of my existential diatribe; to the crafts!

So everyone else is making (buying?) all these cute chalkboard details. They’re everywhere! Labels, gift tags, on candles, on signs, etc. I decided I wanted to make a chalkboard menu (and I had a Michaels gift card that had burning a hole in my wallet!). Here’s the short backstory to the chalkboard: The hubby and I have been trying to reign in our budget (reign in me, really), so we decided we should actually make/eat the food we buy at the store. What happens is we buy all this food, then we get lazy, decide to eat out instead, and all the food goes bad. WASTE OF MONEY. I thought if we had a posted menu, and who was in charge of cooking that meal, we might quit throwing away food and there’d be less of, “I thought you were cooking tonight!” “NO, it’s your turn!”.

My initial idea was to have the hubby tape off a straight rectangle on the pantry door, where I could use the chalkboard spray paint I already have. Voila a very cheap craft (save money! He’s trying to make it my new motto). He had an even better idea. Home Depot sells pieces of chalkboard. We bought the 3′ by 2’ for about $6, and it fits perfectly on the width of our pantry door! I wanted to make the word ‘menu’ and the days of the week permanent (redrawing that every time? no thanks), so I bought an oil based white sharpie marker for about $4.

1.  I looked up “chalkboard menu” on pinterest to get ideas of what I liked, and then I went to town!

2. I used a pencil and measuring tape draw on what I wanted first and keep it straight, and I used a stencil to make the dots uniform. After I got everything done with the paint pen, I erased any visible pencil marks.

3. The hubby took it from there! He got liquid nails from the garage to hang it on our pantry door and clamped it in place until it dried (a few hours).

4. I wasn’t sure if the chalkboard had been seasoned, so I went ahead and rubbed chalk on its side all over the board and wiped it off with a towel.  Now it’s ready to use!

Damon used liquid nails to glue it to the door and clamps to hold it in place until the liquid nails dried.

Damon used liquid nails to glue it to the door and clamps to hold it in place until the liquid nails dried.

Clamps on all four corners hold it in place for a few hours.

Clamps on all four corners hold it in place for a few hours.

Here is the finished product!  All for about $10!

Here is the finished product! All for about $10!

The final and most important step is to season the chalkboard (rub chalk on its side all over the board and wipe off), then I decided to draw pictures for our meals.  At least I know what it means!

The final and most important step is to season the chalkboard (rub chalk on its side all over the board and wipe off), then I decided to draw pictures for our meals. At least I know what it means!

I decided to draw our meals. I know what it means, but in case you’re wondering…

M- steak, potatoes, broccoli
T- Meatless Tuesday (moved from Meatless Monday, because our vegetarian friend Vivien has a soccer game to coach)
W- barbecued drumsticks
T- fast food, because I have 2 classes in Commerce until 10pm
F- Valentine’s Day!!!

I’m so proud of how well it turned out!

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7 Day Diet Cleanse

After Thanksgiving, Damon and I were talking about how we really need to lose weight, so I turned to Pinterest.  As a rule, I only pin things I think I can actually do.  I pinned a 7 day diet and cleanse, only after Damon said he would do it with me.  I know me, and there is no way I’m eating a plate of vegetables while that man is eating hot wings.  I don’t have that kind of will power.  I’m going to write (with permission) about our experiences and meals on a diet called The Eat Your Heart Out Diet.  The website has TONS of helpful information and tips!!! She also lovingly calls it the Satan Diet, and I get why. I contemplated titling this post 7 Days in Hell, but I thought that would scare you away.  It’s hard, but doable.  It says you can lose 10+ pounds in 7 days. It’s also a great cleanse of your system!

Below is my review of sorts. I’ll detail our results, the plan, the meals we ate, and recipes.  I figured others might want ideas for meals and how to prepare them (if you’re looking for more information on the diet and why it works, go to the link above).  I’d also like to thank Pinterest.

Our results: I lost 7 pounds and Damon lost 11 (weights taken on the morning of Day 8).  I kept mine off and only gained a total of 2 pounds back when I weighed myself after Christmas (and I didn’t curtail my holiday eating)!  Damon gained a few back, too.  A pound a day isn’t bad at all! I didn’t drink nearly as much water as I should have, and I think my results would have been better if I had! The best advice I can give? FOLLOW THE PLAN! Why do the diet if you’re going to cheat or not follow all of it?

Here’s the Plan:

Here is the diet plan courtesy of http://theeatyourheartoutdiet.blogspot.com/

Here is the diet plan courtesy of http://theeatyourheartoutdiet.blogspot.com/

Our Meals:

Day 1: all fruit ALL the time

Fruit all day sounds yummy, although I think this was the hardest day for me.  A couple of people at work commented that they could do that, no problem!  Well, I was hungry only a short time after each copious meal of fruit.  I had fruit medley for breakfast, pear and apple for snacks, fruit medley for lunch, and fruit medley with chile lime salt for dinner.  Damon cut up all the fruit the night before and put it in containers for us for lunch.  We added the kiwi at dinner time.

We ate a variety of fruits and I used Trechas chile/lime powder to spice up my fruit.

We ate a variety of fruits and I used Trechas chile/lime powder to spice up my fruit.

Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, kiwi halves

Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, and kiwi halves made up the medley.

I ate pears as a snack on fruit days.  The hubby ate cuties and oranges, but I'm not a citrus fan (ew pulp!).

I ate pears as a snack on fruit days. The hubby ate cuties and oranges, but I’m not a citrus fan (ew pulp!).

Day 2: Veggie Day with (thank God) a potato

I have to admit something that happened today.  It’s the fruit’s fault.  All that fruit, just goes through a girl’s system, ya know?  So let’s just say my pants were a casualty on Day 2; it’s lucky I work close to home and could run home to change.  Damon didn’t have this trouble…. just me.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, on to the meals. At the end of fruit day I made the carrot, zucchini, and squash ‘fries’ for Day 2’s lunch.  It was so hard not to eat one, they smelled so good (and I was sick of fruit).  I found the recipe on Pinterest a while back, and what better reason to try it!  These are something I will keep making!    We started the day off with cucumbers and salt for breakfast.  We ate an avocado with the ‘fries’ for our lunch along with the tomato, cucumber, purple onion medley. I was so excited for dinner! Damon is a master griller and he grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus to go along with our butter (don’t over do it), salt, and pepper baked potato. I went to bed feeling great today!

Cucumbers with salt made a great breakfast on veggie days!

Cucumbers with salt made a great breakfast on veggie days!

Another yummy treat on veggie day: roasted zucchini 'fries'.

Another yummy treat on veggie day: roasted zucchini ‘fries’.

Roasted carrots and yellow squash.

Roasted carrots and yellow squash.

All those yummy roasted veggies packed up ready for lunch.

All those yummy roasted veggies packed up ready for lunch.

Here's a medley we ate whenever we could eat veggies.  It's also a staple at our house with dinners!  Grape tomatoes, cucumber, purple onion seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed in olive oil and a bit of red wine vinaigrette.

Here’s a medley we ate whenever we could eat veggies. It’s also a staple at our house with dinners! Grape tomatoes, cucumber, purple onion seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed in olive oil and a bit of red wine vinaigrette.

We each ate one avocado for lunch on Day 2 (Veggie Day).  I added a bit of salt to mine!

We each ate one avocado for lunch on Day 2 (Veggie Day). I added a bit of salt to mine!

Mushroom necklace.  Maybe the lack of caffeine is making me delirious.

Mushroom necklace. Maybe the lack of caffeine is making me delirious.

Damon getting ready to go outside to grill his mushroom and tomato skewers.  Ellie thinks she's getting some.  She is not.

Damon getting ready to go outside to grill his mushroom and tomato skewers. Ellie thinks she’s getting some. She is not.

These yummy grilled grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus went nicely with the baked potato.

These yummy grilled grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus went nicely with the baked potato.

Baked potato.  It made my day (Day 2 that is).  Just add salt and pepper!

Baked potato. It made my day (Day 2 that is). Just add butter, salt and pepper!



Day 3: Fruit and Veggies

Today was a great day food-wise. We started the day with kiwi halves for breakfast. There were pears for snacks, cucumber/tomato/onion medley and avocado for lunch, but dinner was the best part. We made spaghetti and homemade sauce with sauteed mushrooms, except the spaghetti was made out of spaghetti sauce! I thought Damon might hate this (he’s not a fan of meals that don’t involve meat), but he said it was something we’d make again! We used Emeril’s recipe for the spaghetti squash, minus the butter. I ate kiwi halves for dessert!

That furry man is all mine.  Oh yeah, tomatoes are ingredients for Day 4's yummy dinner, which was my favorite of the whole diet!

That furry man is all mine. Oh yeah, tomatoes are ingredients for Day 4’s yummy dinner, which was my favorite of the whole diet!

Pan cooking the spaghetti squash 'noodles' and the tomato sauce cooking in the background.

Pan cooking the spaghetti squash ‘noodles’ and the tomato sauce cooking in the background.

We didn't have time to make homemade spaghetti sauce the way it said to online (simmer for 4 hours? um no.).  So we skinned 8 tomatoes, pureed them in the blender, and cooked in a pan with onions, garlic, seasonings, and a bay leaf.  Maybe it's the diet talking, but it was good!  P.S. Peeling tomatoes is so much fun.  Boil water and drop them in for about a minute until the skin pops.  Drop them in an ice water bath, then peel the skin right off!

We didn’t have time to make homemade spaghetti sauce the way it said to online (simmer for 4 hours? um no.). So we skinned 8 tomatoes, pureed them in the blender, and cooked in a pan with onions, garlic, seasonings, and a bay leaf. Maybe it’s the diet talking, but it was good! P.S. Peeling tomatoes is so much fun. Boil water and drop them in for about a minute until the skin pops. Drop them in an ice water bath, then peel the skin right off!

We sauteed onions for the tomato sauce, then used the same pan to saute mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.

We sauteed onions for the tomato sauce, then used the same pan to saute mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.

On Day 3 (fruit & veggies) we had a VERY tasty dinner of spaghetti squash, homemade tomato sauce, and sauteed mushrooms.  We will be eating this again after the diet, just maybe with chicken breast too.

On Day 3 (fruit & veggies) we had a VERY tasty dinner of spaghetti squash, homemade tomato sauce, and sauteed mushrooms. We will be eating this again after the diet, just maybe with chicken breast too.

Day 4: Bananas and Skim Milk

Well, there’s not much to say about this day. I took skim milk in my Nalgene bottle to work (the one with a bite valve) and drank milk like a baby at my desk. I ate bananas off and on at work, peeling them monkey style from the bottom (I think my work friends were amazed at my banana peeling skills). When we ate dinner, we got a little creative (it was a Friday, and oh how I longed to go out to eat). We pretended our bananas and milk were cereal!

Damon cutting up our bananas.  Then we added (lactose free) milk!  We both ate all eight bananas this day.

Damon cutting up our bananas. Then we added (lactose free) milk! We both ate all eight bananas this day.

Day 4 dinner: banana skim milk 'cereal'.  I think it felt more like a meal this way!

Day 4 dinner: banana skim milk ‘cereal’. I think it felt more like a meal this way!

Day 5: Chicken and Tomatoes

For some reason, I don’t have many pictures from today. I think it’s because by the time dinner came, I was so ready for chicken that I gobbled it up without even a thought of snapping a picture. I vow to do better on Day 6! We ate scrambled eggs and tomatoes for breakfast, which was really lunch since I slept until noon. Then we ate grilled chicken with fresh tomato slices sprinkled with salt for dinner.

Breakfast on Day 5 (fowl and tomatoes) consisted of scrambled eggs cooked with chopped tomatoes.

Breakfast on Day 5 (fowl and tomatoes) consisted of scrambled eggs cooked with chopped tomatoes.

Day 6: Chicken and Veggies

I was glad to get back to a variety of veggies today. We ate cucumbers with salt for breakfast and had an early dinner of grilled chicken and sauteed onions and bell peppers while watching the Cowboy’s game. We had more of it for dinner. I love bell peppers!

We kept the grilled chicken breasts warm in our mini crock pot.

We kept the grilled chicken breasts warm in our mini crock pot.

We kept the bell peppers and onions warm in our mini crock pot.

We kept the bell peppers and onions warm in our mini crock pot.

Dinner on Day 6: grilled chicken (seasoned) and yellow and red bell peppers (sauteed in a little olive oil).

Dinner on Day 6: grilled chicken (seasoned) and yellow and red bell peppers (sauteed in a little olive oil).

Day 7: Miracle Soup

We made the soup the night before and took a little taste! Not too bad! We bought double the recipe since there are two of us, but there was no need for ALL OF THAT. We only made one batch, but Damon threw in an extra packet or two of Lipton’s beefy soup mix. We forgot the green pepper (oops). I like cabbage and I like this soup. However, it made me very gassy and my stomach gurgled (not hungry gurgles) all day long. After copious amounts of soup during the day, I decided I would skip dinner (and not risk having another pants accident). Damon threw out all the soup and proclaimed we were getting Chipotle for dinner. Lots of veggies, a little meat, a little starch.

Damon chopping cabbage.  I like cabbage, but it gives me gas!

Damon chopping cabbage. I like cabbage, but it gives me gas!

Here is the Miracle Soup cooking!

Here is the Miracle Soup cooking!

Closing Remarks
This diet worked. It was hard, but afterwards I was happy to eat ANYTHING. I think it kicked off eating healthier, at least until the holidays hit. Afterwards I noticed if I do eat sweets or packaged things, they taste really sweet or really salty. It’s like my taste buds weren’t ready for eating back in the real world. There is a 3 day diet floating around Pinterest that I’d like to try and review. Maybe that’ll kick off the weight loss in 2013. My work is doing Biggest Loser, and it would be nice to win!

Everyone’s Doing It…

Everybody is making mesh wreaths!  So, of course, I had to try it too!  Considering I’ve seen these big Deco Mesh wreaths going on Etsy from $150 and UP, I thought it’d be cheaper to do it myself.  Mine is a Christmas wreath, but it could be made for any occasion!

So here is my way to DIY a Deco Mesh wreath (told in pictures):

Supplies:

2 rolls Deco Mesh

1 wire wreath frame

24 pipe cleaners

ribbon

cute add-ons

hot glue gun

and maybe wire cutters

Needed: 2 rolls Deco Mesh, 24 pipe cleaners, metal wreath frame, hot glue gun, and cute add ons.

Basics: 2 rolls Deco Mesh and pipe cleaners.  Ideally, the pipe cleaners would match the mesh!

Deco Mesh: 21 in. wide by 10 yd. long.

Deco Mesh: 21 in. wide by 10 yd. long.

I bought the wire wreath at Hobby Lobby for $4.99.

I bought the wire wreath at Hobby Lobby for $4.99.

I bought matching ribbon and other cute add ons!

I bought matching ribbon and other cute add-ons!

Twist pipe cleaners around the wire frame at regular intervals.

Twist pipe cleaners around the wire frame at regular intervals.

Gather the Deco Mesh and twist the pipe cleaners around the end to get started.

Gather the Deco Mesh and twist the pipe cleaners around the end to get started.

Gather the mesh after about 6 inches to create a pouf and secure to the next pipe cleaner.  Repeat all the way around!

Gather the mesh after about 6 inches to create a pouf and secure to the next pipe cleaner. Repeat all the way around!

Here is what my wreath looked like after one round.  I decided I needed more poufs, so I added more pipe cleaners and started over.

Here is what my wreath looked like after one round. I decided I needed more poufs, so I added more pipe cleaners and started over.  It wouldn’t be a craft project if I didn’t mess something up!

Here is my redo.  I think it looks better with 24 pipe cleaners instead of 12 (making the poufs smaller).

Here is my redo. I think it looks better with 24 pipe cleaners instead of 12 (making the poufs smaller).

After Round One, I got creative and made bigger poufs and securing them where I thought it looked best to fill out the wreath.

After Round One, I got creative and made bigger poufs and securing them where I thought it looked best to fill out the wreath.

Tip:  Cut 10 inch long pieces of ribbon, snip the ends to make a V-shape, and tie in to the wreath to add texture or a splash of color.  Ribbon also makes a great filler!  Try tying three different kinds of ribbon to the pipe cleaner to make a cute bow!

I hot glued on my add ons, tied lengths of ribbon to some of the pipe cleaners to add texture, and tucked in the pipe cleaners.

I hot glued on my add-ons, tied lengths of ribbon to some of the pipe cleaners to add texture, and tucked in the pipe cleaners.

I am ever so proud, and now I want to make more!

I am ever so proud, and now I want to make more!

This is going to go on my office door until school lets out for Christmas break, then it is going to hang proudly over my mantle!!!

Now try and make your own!  If you send me a pic, I will add it to my blog!

Here is my most recent wreath creation.  My mom and I had a Valentine's wreath making day!

Here is my most recent wreath creation. My mom and I had a Valentine’s wreath making day!

I’ve Got a Few (Stolen Beauty) Tricks Up My Sleeve

I’ve got three beauty tricks up my sleeve, and I can’t claim any of them!

Normally, I am not a lots-o-makeup-wearing, girly girl.  I like sleep, and I don’t like the way I look with heavy foundation.  I’m a powder, blush, one color eye shadow, and mascara kind of girl on work days.  On weekends, I’m an “I took a shower, what more do you want from me?” kind of girl.  That’s why I like the three beauty tricks below.  It even gets utilitarian minded me excited about makeup!

The first trick comes from pinterest, and the rest come from the makeup artist who did the makeup for my friend’s wedding party.

 

1. I read another blog about DIY makeup setting face spray.  I’m not sure how intellectual property laws work, or about blog etiquette, so I’m not linking to it.  I’ve seen and read in beauty magazines about makeup setting spray; I haven’t been willing to invest in any.  Urban Decay sells three different types (oil control, moisturizing, and long lasting) for $29, so it was worth it to me to try this recipe to make my own!

Ingredients:

Pure glycerin (pure aloe would work, too)- My mom works at Kroger Pharmacy, and they ordered my the 6 oz. bottle shown for $8 (no shipping!).  Your local pharmacy can order it from their overnight supplier.  I ordered mine Wednesday night and got it Thursday morning: so fast and easy!

Filtered water- I used the stuff that comes out of my fridge dispenser.

A spray bottle- mine is 3 oz. and is 97 cents at Target!

Ratios:

Dry Skin: 2 TBSP glycerin and 4 TBSP water

Combo Skin: 1 TBSP glycerin and 3 TBSP water

Oily Skin: 1 TBSP glycerin and 4 TBSP water

Notes:

All you do is mix, and then shake it before each use.  Why it works: glycerin is moisturizing, which allows your face to stay hydrated.  It also bonds with the makeup, setting your face.  I use Bare Minerals and find that sometimes I look a little powdery/cakey.  I think it’s because my skin is uber dry.  I mixed mine for dry skin, and find that this gives me the perfect dewy glow all day, without looking oily.  I also spray it on my face in place of moisturizer, when I feel I need it.  Glycerin can be used on hair, too.  One word of caution: I made the mistake of spraying before makeup and twice after makeup.  OVERKILL.  I think I also missed my face, and my hair looked oily that day.  So cheap, I’m in love already!

The only ingredients needed for DIY makeup setting spray: water, pure glycerin, and a spray bottle!

 

2. You know that expensive eye primer cream?  Yeah, I shelled out quite a few bucks for some of that.  The makeup artist for my friend’s wedding said she just uses Chapstick.  Chapstick.  Plain, old Chapstick.  She said she’s used both, and Chapstick (she used the cherry kind, and it smelled good!) works just as well.  I have to say that my eye makeup looked just as good at the end of the night, in spite of crying, sweating, and cold wind.  I went out and bought the moisturizing kind just to keep in my makeup bag for my eyes!

 

This is all you need to keep eye makeup in place!

 

3. This fabulous makeup artist also introduced me to gel eyeliner.  I’ve been using a pencil, because I look like a kindergartner’s art project gone wrong when I use liquid.  But I like the look of liquid!  But pencils (especially the kind you just twist up) are so easy!  She let me use her Maybelline Gel Eyeliner to do my own eyeliner (I’m not so good at the sitting still).  I loved it!  It went on smooth and easy.  It went on straight, and I could easily fix any hiccups.  It looked great, like liquid, and was even easier than my pencil.  No more rubbing my skin off with a stubborn pencil, or looking like a hot mess with liquid.  I went out and bought some of this the next day at Target for about $8.  It came with a brush and everything!  It’s small, but the makeup artist said she’s had hers for months, so it will last a while.    Get Maybelline’s here.  MAC also makes one for $15 that you can get here.

 

So smooth and easy! Looks like liquid, but is easier than pencil!

 

When I’m done being sick, I may post a pic of me utilizing all three makeup tricks!

 

 

Etsy Hack: Knit Button Cowl

You’ve heard of an Ikea hack.  Now, I’m introducing the Etsy hack.  While browsing Pinterest, I came upon an adorable cowl/scarf/neck warmer.  (Its creator calls it a scarf, but to me it looks more like a cowl/neck warmer than a scarf, except that it is not an infinity cowl).  It was perfect!  I’ve been looking for a new knitting project for Christmas gifts.  Last year, I made hats.  Scarfs normally take a L-O-N-G time, but this one is a shorter version and oh-so-adorable!  I clicked and saw this beauty.

I love this adorable cowl! I just had to try to make one!

When I arrived at Etsy, I found this 12″ by 36″ beauty is being sold for $74.  No, ma’am.  I am not paying that much for something I could make myself, and how much cooler is it to say I made it?Often times people who knit offer a pattern for their creations that can be purchased, so I was hoping to find that for this scarf.  No dice.

No worries, I’ll just scour the internet for a similar knit stitch and try to create it myself with trial and error!  SPOILER ALERT: I figured it out, and my perfected  pattern is at the end.  I found, via Ravelry, a “lace knit stitch”.  Now, this is by no means lace, but a lace stitch can refer to any open knit stitch.  The best part?  It is so easy and a very quick knit.  I discovered this cowl on Monday and have knit three prototypes since then (no, I do not have oodles of time on my hands- I work and go to school!).

For my first try, I thought of my wonderful friend Minna.  She’s my friend, my hairdresser, and my photographer.  Last year, I knit her some fingerless gloves with chunky rainbow yarn, and I figured I had just enough left over to knit this cowl.  Here’s how it went in pictures.

Here is the birth of the cowl: I cast on 20 stitches  of chunky yarn on size 15 needles.

I knit it with a pattern of K1, *Yo, K2Together* repeat from* until one stitch left,  K1.

It took me about two hours, and the hardest part was adding the buttons!

It looks more like a gator than a cowl, but I still think it is cute!!!

Here I am wearing the cowl knitted for Minna!

So it didn’t turn out exactly like the picture, but I love how it came out!  It’s warm, but breathable, since it was knit with the open stitch.  Minna loved it, too!  She’s even going to wear it in her maternity photo shoot!  I’ll post some of those pictures when she gets them to me!

Next, I grabbed left over matching yarn left over from another friend’s Christmas hat.  This time, I cast on 26 stitches of chunky cream colored yarn and knit until I was almost out of yarn.  This one turned out to be about 10 inches wide and 25 inches long.  Pretty great!  I think she’ll love it!  No pic of that one, because I want it to be a Christmas surprise!

My mom is my third guinea pig.  I knit her a cabled beret and this cowl would look great with it, especially since she is traversing to Nebraska in a couple of weeks!  This time, I wanted it to be as damn close to the picture as I could manage.  I cast on 30 stitches this time to make it a little bit wider.  I thought I could do it with one skein of chunky yarn, but since this one is wider (about 13″ wide), I needed another skein to get the length right.  One skein knitted a length of about 20″, so two skeins made it about 42″.  Longer than the Etsy one, but I like it!  I knit until I was out of yarn, then added the buttons!  I am ever so proud of myself for my Etsy Hack!

Here is my mom wearing her matching set:

This is my lovely mom wearing the cowl (nailed it!) and hat I knit for her.

Etsy Hack: Knit Cowl Pattern

Ingredients:

US Size 15 needles

2 Skeins of chunky yarn (My mom’s is knit in Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick in color 502 Mesquite, which is 80% Acrylic & 20% Wool)

Abbreviations:

K1= knit one

yo=yarn over (so simple, literally just wrap the yarn around the right hand needle from front to back, creating a new stitch

K2Together= knit the next two stitches together

Pattern:

1. Cast on 30 stitches- that will knit a scarf about 13″ wide  (If you want it wider or thinner cast on less, just be sure it is an even number!)

2. For every row, K1 *yo, k2together* repeat until there is one stitch left, K1 (You will always knit the first and last stitch of every row!)

3. When you almost run out of yarn, bind off.

4. Weave in ends and add buttons, voila!

Notes:

First, this scarf is very stretchy, which makes it hard to measure, but wonderful for creating different styles when it is worn.  I also wanted to explain a bit about the pattern.  The reason for the yarn over is to create a new stitch, since two are getting knit together-a decrease, in order to keep the total number of stitches the same.  It is a stitch used in all lace patterns.  I wasn’t sure what exactly yarn over meant before this project (I’m a self taught knitter), and I found dummies.com’s description helpful.  I knit using the continental method, so the first two YouTube videos I found on Google didn’t help; they were for the English method.  When I first watched the two videos, I thought, “Oh God, have I been knitting wrong all along?”.  No, just a little bit different technique!

I am going to knit myself a cowl using 1 1/2 skeins of yarn to try to get the 36″ length (the other 1/2 a skein will towards a cabled beret).  I might try 28 stitches to get the 12″ wide, but I really like how wide my mom’s is.  I think I might add smaller buttons (or toggles?) attached behind the large button to make the wear-ability even more versatile. Maybe I’ll even post a picture of me, when I get my set done!  I’m excited for my new matching set!  I normally don’t knit for myself too much, and my mom bought me a new coat and leather gloves (purple to match my cowl and hat, of course), but I don’t get it until Christmas.

Tips on how to knit?  Finished projects? Add ’em in the comments!

Happy knitting!

Pinterest Turned Me into a Hippie

Like every woman I know, I can kill a productive evening with Pinterest.  Of course I have the obligatory home , holidays, style, DIY/crafts, food, and humor boards.  I also have a knitting board, but my most recent favorite is my Beauty, Bath, Hair, and Nails board.  I am conservative pinner; I only pin things I think I can make/afford/get my husband to do (or things that make me laugh).  Seldom do I pin things as a dream; at my core, I am a realist.  I started seeing all these pins about homemade beauty products.  I just kept dismissing the pins as “those crazy hippies who don’t shave and make their own soap”.  But I just kept seeing them, and one piqued my interest.  It was a pin about an oil based facial cleanser.  I remember reading an article in a beauty magazine a while back about oil face cleansers and moisturizers, which helped to give the pin some credibility.  I clicked on it and read the blog of someone who tried it.  Her results were noticeable and what she said made sense (she has done her homework).  It is supposed to help hormonal and cystic acne.  I have noticed more cyst style acne on my face, and I never used to get that kind, so I decided to try it.  What do I have to lose?

I’m here to report my experiences with the oil cleansing method.

First off, it is super cheap.  I only needed three things (all of which I can pronounce, unlike the ingredients on my bottle of face wash):

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO),

2. cold pressed castor oil, and

3. a container to put it in.

Only three things needed for oil cleansing: EVOO, castor oil, and a container.

 

I had the EVOO in my pantry, but I had to buy the cold pressed castor oil online.  I found it through eBay and only bought a small container, just in case.  They sell castor oil in the laxative section of most grocery/drug stores, but I wasn’t sure if it was cold pressed.  Cold pressed is how it is processed, and I went with it because I couldn’t be sure how the other castor oil was processed (with chemicals? I’m not a chemist.).

There are three ways to mix the two.

1.  Oily skin: 1 TBSP EVOO for every 3 TBSP Castor Oil

2. Normal/Combination skin: 1 TBSP EVOO for every 1 TBSP Castor Oil

3. Dry skin: 3 TBSP EVOO for every 1 TBPS Castor Oil

My skin tends to be drier, but I wanted to play it safe and did the 1:1 ratio.  As soon as the castor oil came in the mail, I mixed it up!  I put in 3 TBSP EVOO and 3 TBSP Castor Oil into my little 97 cent container from Target.

 

Here are the steps:

1. Put about a quarter size of the mixture in your clean hands and massage onto your face.  I use it to remove my make-up, too.  I just gently rub off the mascara (until I look like a raccoon).  Oil is a great make-up remover.

2. Soak a washcloth in hot water (don’t burn yourself, duh), ring it out,  and set it on your face.  It needs to be HOT to open up your pores and steam out all the nasty gunk in there. Leave it on your face until it cools off (maybe a minute?), then gently wipe off the excess oil.  I don’t try too hard to get it all off, because it soaks in and keeps my face moisturized.  **BONUS: When I was sick, the steam opened up my nasal passages.

Voila!  My skin is usually supple and rosy red from the heat.  You can splash some cool water on your face to help with the redness, but mine goes away after a minute or two.

The oil cleansing works, because oil dissolves oil that has hardened throughout the day.  The oil also encapsulates dirt/grime and gently removes it, while moisturizing.  Skin needs oil, that’s why it produces it.  Stripping/drying skin out with harsh chemicals only makes it produce more oil, so why fight it?

 

In addition to oil cleansing every night, a mask and exfoliation need to be done once a week.  I do a mask/scrub all in one.  I’ve read (again, in beauty magazines) that aspirin is good to put on pimples.  I found a recipe for a honey aspirin mask, and I love it.  Apparently, honey is a natural antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizer!  Maybe it can even fix the rattling sound in my car.  Aspirin has salicylic acid in it and will also reduce redness, since it also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Here is how I make my Aspirin Honey Face Mask:

1. Put 3 aspirin tablets (NOT the enteric coated kind)  in a container, and drop 3 drops of water on them (I just run some water on my hand and use my fingers to drop a few drops on there).  The water will slightly dissolve the aspirin.  Mash up the aspirin with your fingers a bit.a  **TIP: Not a fan of aspirin? Instead of aspirin, use a TSP of baking soda.

2. Add a small squirt of honey.

3. Mix it all together and rub on your face using circular motions.

4.  Leave it on for 30 minutes (I’m wearing the mask as I write this!).

5. Wash it off slowly with warm water in circular motions.  The circular motions help to exfoliate.  Sometimes I shower after wearing the mask, letting the shower steam do some work on my face before I wash it off!

I’ve also read that honey can be put on a problematic spot to help it heal.  A paste of 1 tablet of aspirin and 1 drop of water can also be put on problematic spots.  I use the honey if I have pimples I have popped (I know, I know, MOM, I shouldn’t do that).  I put the aspirin on troublesome areas I haven’t popped!

These are the three of the four ingredients for the Aspirin Honey Face Mask.

I wash my face before bed with the oil cleanser, following the steps.  Nothing else needs to be done.  In the morning I take a shower, and I use the warm water to get the sleep out of my eyes.  A blog I read said to splash cold water on my face in the morning before putting on make-up, but I am a morning showerer, and I am not about to take a cold shower.  Below are three pictures of me as I use the oil cleansing method.  The first picture was taken after my first oil cleansing wash (I couldn’t use my old cleanser another day once the castor oil came in the mail!).  I forgot to have my husband take a picture on week one and three, but I have weeks two and four.  I noticed that the texture of my face feels much better.  My face is smoother, and I have had no more painful under the skin cyst/pimples.  Simply having no pain is worth it!  I have noticed my acne scars fading (I still have a million light little freckles, but I love those).  My make-up goes on smoother, too.  Even without these good things, I would use the cleanser, because it is so cheap and it didn’t make my face worse!  Why would I keep paying more money to have the same benefits?  But in my case I got many more benefits.  I think if I quit picking at my face (an anxious habit), I will have no more spots to worry about.  Even the pimples I do get heal much faster and don’t scar.  I’m impressed, although I know this won’t be for everyone.

Before, two weeks, and four weeks pictures. I don’t think they quite do the change justice!

Over the past few weeks I have been reading up on other remedies and trying some different things.  Pure aloe is healing and moisturizing, and sometimes in the mornings I feel like I need a little moisturizer, especially when it’s cold.  So I bought a small 100% Aloe Vera gel bottle at Target in the travel section.  I put it on after I get out of the shower to lock in moisture.  It’s very light and dries quickly.  I have another heavier moisturizer trick up my sleeve, but this post is already so long; I will save it for another day!  Here’s a hint: it comes from one of my favorite fruits!

This tiny bottle of Aloe Vera has lasted me a month so far. I only need a little bit!

I will update this and add more pictures as the weeks go by!  Feel free to ask questions and leave tips in the comments!

A Ticking Clock

The husband and I were talking about having a baby today. Let me back up. Yesterday, one of my favorite people in the world, Allyson, got married. I took a few pictures for her bridal shower invite and blogged about it in: I Shot Allyson. We’ve known each other since she was five and I was eight. At her wedding there were tons of cute photos of her and her brothers when they were little. I don’t have any brothers and sisters, but I consider Allyson and her three brothers my family/siblings. I babysat them when they were young! This brought on my husband’s comment about how he wanted a little one of our own. He said he’s ready. I think I might be ready… So the plan is to “poop one out” as husband says next May (not this May as in 2013, but NEXT May 2014, MAYBE). It’ll be the end of my second year as a school counselor, and I’ll be ready to pop after finishing my classes for my doctorate. I figure I can take my time to write my dissertation while I care for my baby!

This had me thinking about that baby hat I knit for a photo shoot for Love and Grace Photography . I completely forgot to add the gorgeous pictures they took! It’s also time for me to knit a baby hat for Minna, who is one half of Love and Grace Photography.

For the original post and knitting pattern see: Size Doesn’t Mater.

This is baby Ryder in the hat I knit.

So adorable!

Minna said the pictures with my hat were her favorites!

Sparkly Spooky Centerpiece

It’s October and my mom and I where gearing up for Halloween and fall decorating.  We needed a few things (okay, wanted quite a few things), so we went to Hobby Lobby.  My mom found a three tiered pumpkin centerpiece she wanted, but it was $49.99.  Brilliant! We can make that for cheaper!  We started gathering our supplies.  I got three fake pumpkins of different sizes, one cream, one black, one silver glitter, from Target for $13.  At Hobby Lobby I got a distressed wood base for about $5; I had a 40% off coupon!  Then on to Garden Ridge where I bought black glitter strand stuff $7, a ‘pick’ (decoration with a pointy end to stick in something) of purple glittery coils $1.49, and something from the floral department with large purple sequins (didn’t use that part) and the spider $1.99.   My mom got three fake pumpkins from Hobby Lobby and green and orange sparkly strand stuff.

Perfect for Halloween!

I started by using multi-colored glitter spray on the cream and black pumpkins.  I used a couple of strands of green and a strand of orange from my mom’s stash.  I wrapped the black and green around the base, hot gluing in some spots to keep it in the place I wanted it.  I stacked up the pumpkins, gluing each one together and to the base.  Then I wrapped black in between each pumpkin; loosely wrapped green and orange strands in opposite direction around the pumpkin tower; and finished with purple coils and a spider (both cut from their original stems).  It didn’t take very long, and for $30, I’m super impressed with myself.  My color scheme was inspired by a FAB-U-LOUS wreath that a teacher friend has on her classroom door.  Le Sigh.  If only I could convince Damon that I need one of those wreaths, too.

The magnificent sparkly pumpkin crown topped with a spider and coil.

I sprayed glitter on the cream and black pumpkin. Definitely noticeable in person!

I just love my handy work! Now if I can only get Damon to let me buy the matching wreath!

A New Home for My Earrings

A couple of years ago I made an earring holder from a grease strainer. I got the idea from a friend’s blog: http://www.kristenmcashan.com.  Ooh!  I also got the fabulous idea to get Walmart baskets and hot glue yarn words on to organize my stuff!  Take a gander below.

Grease Strainer Earring Holder with a little paint, yarn, ribbon, and jewels.

Baskets with yarn wording to organize my bathroom closet.

I made this basket for my bathroom counter with all the stuff I use daily.

I loved it! But soon my earrings outgrew the grease strainer. It was messing up the Feng Shui of my bedroom. I needed a new idea, and in swooped Pinterest. I was planning on creating my new fabric headboard this weekend, but being sick (again!) got in the way. The Pinterest link took me to http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/ where I found the idea to buy a decorative sheet metal piece. I put my own twist on it. I didn’t cut it at all. Instead, I had the hubby cut two pieces of 1 by 2s to go across the top and bottom to hold it away from the wall. I spray painted the wood with left over paint from my Ikea kitchen shelves. I hot glued the metal to the wood, and then I hot glued it all to the wall! I hung my earrings and found that this particular pattern is great to hook post back earrings through too! I just slide the back part through the larger scrolly part and slide down until it is secure into a narrower section!

Metal Sheet from Home Depot hot glued onto painted wood supports.

So much more space now!