How to Make Liquid Castille Soap

I love liquid soap and I can’t stand bar soap (It’s icky sticky and yuck!).  The problem is that you can get great quality bar soap for a fraction of its liquid counterpart.  I’ve experimented before with making liquid soap with little success.  I finally found a recipe that is equal or better to any liquid soap out there.  Silver Fir Farms is a soap maker and over a year ago she was sweet enough to not only share her recipe for liquid castile soap but couple it with an instructional video. Get her recipe here and watch her video below: » » »

Yarn Bombing

I love graffiti.  (I’m not a fan of tagging though.)  I like the idea that you wake up one morning and chaos has ensued on a wall. Pretty, interesting, chaos.  Gone is the plain block wall replaced by art that says something left by someone you probably don’t know.  I  wish one day it would happen to the outside wall of my studio.

In the universe of graffiti there is something out there called ‘yarn bombing’.  It’s a form mostly lead by women.  The bomber knits or crochets over public objects typically in the dead of night.   I love the fact that women have found a unique voice in the graffiti world.  It tends to be colorful and soft but explodes out of the landscape.  You can’t can’t notice it!

I knew yarn bombing had hit the big time when I came across this ad in last months ‘People’ magazine…

Tampax ad starring Ishknits

Tampax ad starring Ishknits

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Homemade Skin Care Cleanser

There are a few reasons that I am a convert to making my own skin care cleansers and products:

  • I know what every ingredient is and can pronounce it.  (not that there is anything wrong with a chemical too complicated for me to pronounce, I’m just kind of controlling)
  • No animal testing was done. (Well…I might have slathered a few of my homemade recipes over the dogs but nothing on chicken, I swear!…oh actually…)
  • There’s no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
  • The packaging is reusable
  • They are inexpensive

Along with all the accurate information on skin care out there in magazines and the internet there are also a lot of myths.  Wading through the information is a formidable task.   When looking for a good skin cleanser I look at the big picture- how can I clean my pores from smoke, dust, toxins, sunscreen and the occasional dab of make up I may stick on my face.   But wait!  I also don’t want to over clean and create a war on my skin.

Here’s the guide I use:

“Ideally, an effective facial cleanse washes the daily amount of dirt, oxidized sebum, and dead skin cells off your face while leaving behind enough of the skin’s own oil (sebum) to naturally moisturize your skin.  If a cleanser, used alone or in a double-cleansing ritual, leaves your skin feeling dry, it is removing too much of this natural moisturizer.  If it leaves your skin feeling greasy and sticky, either it isn’removing enough oil or it contains heavy emollient and film-forming ingredients that clog pores.”

The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel

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Spring Fever = Terracing

Every year around this time I seem to get waylaid by projects I wasn’t expecting.  This year it started innocently enough.  It was high time to deal with the north side of the yard.  We had some terraced garden beds that had always been neglected.  They had a few hardy succulents hanging on from the last owner but mostly just collected leaves.

North side bed

This bed extended almost all the way to the fence.  It was impossible to get through with a wheelbarrow. » » »

How to Make a Dirt Sifter

After putting up the post on making raised beds I realized I should probably go a little more in-depth on the dirt sifter since it’s a vital part of my gardening routine.  If your dirt is in need of as much amendment as mine you’ll be doing a fair amount of sifting too.  If not, well lucky you.

My sifter was scrapped together in an afternoon.  Even though it’s not real easy on the eye it functions quite well.  I’ve put thousands of pounds of dirt through it and it’s still holding up.

The Base

Sifter Base » » »

Homemade Coffee Burr Grinder

I’m on a quest for better coffee in our lives.  One of the victims of our austerity measures has been premium coffee.  First we stopped buying from the local shop that roasts their own beans and switched to Trader Joe’s coffee.  It was a little cheaper and a step down in quality but tolerable.

After the next set of cutbacks we switched to bulk coffee from a NM roaster that was being sold at Sam’s Club.  The price was much better but you had to buy 3 lb bags of the stuff.  The lower quality of the beans was obvious so I mixed it with some of the Trader Joe’s to help the flavor.

The next go-round I figured “What the hell? We’ve come this far down the road…” I squeezed that last bit of room out of the coffee budget and bought Sam’s Club Brand Coffee.  It’s not very good….at all.

Molly:  OK mister, I may have Scottish genes but I’ve got to drink this stuff in the morning.  Can’t we do any better?

Mike: Hey! I’m doing my best with what I have to work with.

Molly: Really? No coffee improving robots or anything??

Mike: Well, now that you mention it… » » »

How to Build a Garden Bed in the High Desert

Growing vegetables is a big part of our spring and summer around here.  We like to grow our own food as much as we can.  Once you start you get spoiled.  The produce in the grocery store, while it looks good, pales in comparison when it comes to flavor and freshness.   We just had green beans last night from the store.  They looked great.  The taste?….Meh…..

Don’t get me started on Whole Foods Paycheck either.  You don’t really save money gardening unless you happen to shop there.  I don’t know why they have all those buttons on their cash registers since it seems that they simply take the number of items you picked out and multiply it by $20.

Back to gardening… » » »

How to Make a Soil Blocker

It’s seed starting season.  Yea!!

You can start seeds in any variety of containers.  People use everything from empty egg shells to the plastic six packs last years plants came in to just about any container laying around.  There comes a point at the beginning of the season when you have a lot of plants going and containers can get scarce.  Imagine if you didn’t have to deal with storing mounds of little plastic pots and just did without containers all together!  Well you can and the answer to your prayers is the soil blocker.  It compresses soil into…well…blocks.

Now you can buy a soil block maker.  They cost about 30 bucks from Johnny’s seeds but what’s the fun in that?   I decided to make my own.
You can too .
It’s not that hard. » » »

The Snaptastic Room Divider

Snaptastic Room Divider

The Snaptastic Room Divider is an attractive modular wall made up of an array of panels that are fit together with slotted connectors to make a large freestanding room divider.  It can be expanded or reduced to fit the space it’s being used in.

It’s always tempting to put up a project and only show the ‘straight line’ from concept to result-  Get these materials, do these steps and voilà a finshed project!  I don’t know about you, but my path is usually a little more meandering.  I thought I’d share the design process and some of the mess-ups on the way because it’s interesting. » » »

How To Make An Apron (Reversible!)

I enjoy sewing.

I enjoy making little drawings.

………………………..THE PATTERN…………………………

Apron pattern » » »