Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This is me watching the turkey frying. Apparently it CAN be done inside (it's an electric one) but then the whole house smells like oil. Tried to get some knitting in, but at 33 degrees (F), it was just too cold for my hands. In the 45 minutes I was out there I did 3 rows (another "Pretty Thing" cowl)

And the not a snuggy is the warmest thing ever. Unlike the snuggy it goes around the back too. MMM- warm, and microfleece lining.

Did a bit of pre-black friday shopping. The Loopy Ewe has some sales going on and I got some sKnitches Bebop and some Noro Kureyon sock. I'm very excited. (And think this will be my Loopy Groupie order)

Watching the Texas A&M/Texas game and am glad Texas A&M is holding their own. My MIL is not. She'd be much happier with a Texas blow-out I think. And she's a big yeller while watching games. FIL is more even headd. He's a ref, so even calls against Texas he can generally see as "good" calls (when they are). I think rivalry games are better close. That way no one in the house is super sad. Although I generally prefer A&M to get the win, I just want them to do that, not ruin Texas's season, so instead I'm just hoping A&M is very close- I'd like to see Texas get the national championship. Yeah, I'm a bad Aggie. But it just made me so homesick to hear Noble Men of Kyle in the background of the TV. I miss A&M.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Making Progress

So far, I have knit 50,166 stitches. I have 42,648 left to go. That's right. I'm over halfway there.

It's 54% done. (I cried a little when I figured that out. I'm on row 122, it seems like I should be almost done.) Plus the crocheted edge. That's going to be hard.

I switched to a 40" needle, so I took a picture. This is about 18" across and is on a 32" and 40" needle- and the stitches are still a bit bunched. How big is this going to be when I block it?

A close up:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My first (and second) soaps!

So yesterday I was feeling a little bit better later in the afternoon- just a bit of a fever left (still... someone make it go away!) So I decided to do a bit of soap. Then today, soap was definetly part of the plan.

I thought the Graduated Layers sounded like a good, easy, one to start with. I started with clear melt and pour base and mixed in purple liquid dye and some Yuzu fragrance oil, then poured half of it into the 2 molds. Then I added white goats milk soap, a bit more fragrance, stirred and poured. Then more goats milk soap, fragrance, stirred and poured. Then I topped it off with white goats milk soap and fragrance. I used the 0.4 oz fragrance to 1 lb soap, and weighed each step of the way to keep it in that ratio. I had been doing a good job of measuring the layers to keep them even, but then I got impatient and topped off with white too soon I think. Still, I think it's pretty impressive first soap. It's already wrapped in the picture. I forgot to spray one layer with alchohol, but it stayed together out of the mold, hopefully it will continue to stay together.
The finished soaps:
Today I made soap with the Sleigh Ride fragrance. But after I added it to the clear I remembered that it discolors!! So I didn't add it to the white. I used the idea of Silhoutte Soap- making soapy imbeds.

Finished soaps:

I started by using a plastic egg carton to make a 1/4" thick layer of clear melt and pour base that I had colored red. It took a lot of red to make it even a little dark. Maybe I should have used half clear half white- but I didn't want pink... Then I used a cookie cutter to make hearts.

I poured fragranced clear melt and pour base, let it set for a few minutes then added my hearts. Then I topped off with unfragranced white goats milk. I thought it would be fun to imbed hearts in another layer too- that way as you use it you uncover a second, secret layer of hearts. So I did a different pattern on that layer (if the top had 2 the middle has 1, if the middle has 2, the top has 1). I'm not sure if soap will really work that way.

But then I poured my final white layer too hot. Oops. So I have really sloppy layers, and the imbeds melted into the back. Oh well- the front turned out pretty, and it's only my second soap making ever.
This is what pouring the last layer too hot did:
And it made the layers really sloppy! (The other layers may have been too early too...)

I can't wait to use the pineapple cilantro fragrance, but I'm going to wait until next weekend, or I'll need more soap base. This used about 1.5 lbs. It goes fast! (the soap weighs just about 1 lb, and I saved all the scraps- so I can make some mashup stuff too. I am keeping all the fragrance seperate, but not worrying about the bases, since they are all the same brand)

Friday, November 13, 2009

My new hobby has arrived!

I've been home sick for 2 days now (got sick Wed. night) it's really sucked, because I've had a fever, so I've just felt miserable, but as I'm getting better, I'm really just feeling bored. I keep wanting to get up and do stuff, but as soon as I get up, I remember I'm at home because I'm too worn out TO get up. So back to the couch I go.

Anyhow, today the FedEx guy came with a present for me. A highlight of the day!

After felting soap, I got an urge to MAKE soap. I found a class at the community college that would teach soap making, but then I found out it was just melt and pour. That's not "real" soap. So I researched the cold-pour process, and while it seems like something I could do, it seemed a little dangerous, and what will I do with all the soap? Then I found out there is WAY more to melt and pour than just a boring colored bar of soap. It can be an art form.

What made me change my mind?
I found Bramble Berry. This website links to the Soap Queen blog and Soap Queen TV videos. Reading and watching made me confident that not only is melt and pour incredibly cool, but that it's something I know I can do! The website is well organized and has SO much stuff. I could spend thousands there. Luckily, I didn't.

Although I really want to make loaf soaps, that brings up the "what will I do with all that soap" question- you end up with 5-10 of the SAME soap. So I settled on two molds I want. One with 4 basic shapes, and one with checkered hearts. I also got some tools- little scoops for dyes (I bet I use those more with my yarn dyes though... but they'll work for the mica I got) and droppers that are great for measuring fragrance oils. They're even graduated- which is a bonus I didn't expect.
Then I looked at soap base. Bramble Berry carries a fantastic sampler pack, but I didn't want quite that much. I wasn't sure how big a pound of soap is (smaller than I thought, actually) and decided I should get 2 lbs clear- figuring I'd use that the most to color. Then I wanted white, but since it was out of stock I decided on shea butter and goats milk- 1 lb each as my white. And I threw in a honey too, well, because shipping was a bit expensive*, and adding more didn't raise it. Also in this picture is some citric acid. It was CHEAP, and like I said the shipping stayed still. I'm not sure if I'll use this to make bath bombs (seems really cool, but I don't do baths much) or to dye yarn without vinegar.
Next, I needed some fragrance and colors for my soaps. I was nervous about fragrance, because I like for bath stuff to smell great, but I'm pretty picky. It was hard to decide on something that would be a "safe bet" for me. Then I found the perfect solution: pineapple cilantro. And I was right- I love it. My next pick was Yuzu. Something I've never heard of, but was featured in the Soap TV spots as something most everyone likes. And, well, I do! Then the best part: Bramble Berry sends a useable sample, not just a sniffer, with every order. I got Sleigh Ride fragrance oil. It looks about half the size of the purchased samples, but plenty to actually try out. This isn't one I would have picked for myself, and i'm not too sure about it. It doesn't have any pine smell though (a common winter fragrance) so I like that. I'll definetly use it- it didn't make my nose itch up when I smelled it!

I also got some colors. I was careful to pick non-bleeding colors since I'm very interested in doing layers. Some colors will bleed into each other and are only good for marble effects, where you want that, or for solids. I picked violet, red, black, and a blue mica. The mica has a neat sparkle effect (as one would think mica would!) It reminds me a lot of some of my stamping supplies... too bad those aren't skin safe.
So what do I make first? Well, nothing today :( Remember that no energy thing :(
Bummer because I want to create!

I really want to try monogram soaps and this neat graduated colors soap. I think I'll start with the second one. The first looks too advanced just yet.

*Shipping costs at Bramble Berry were high. But I was also ordering things by the pound- so they were fair. I ordered last Friday and the stuff got here this Friday. They pulled the order the first business day after I placed it- really quick! It had to get here from Washington, so I was pretty pleased with quick shipping. It also seems if you place bulk orders the shipping gets more affordable per pound. I added a bit more stuff than I originally planned on ordering to get the costs a little lower per item.

There is a soap/candle store not far from me (about 45 minutes). I'm not sure if I saved money going to Bramble Berry, but I am happy with my decision to buy from them for 2 reasons: 1) the information they have made available about soap making through the blog and videos were an invaluable resource I wanted to support and 2) I don't do well in candle stores filled with fragrances, I feel I'd be completely unable to shop in a store filled with that sort of stuff. I'll give them a try when I need more soap base, but ease of shopping and customer service make me very glad I found Bramble Berry.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The flu has hit our house...

Question for you: I have cable. What should I watch? Not a scary show person or a drama person. Thank you for your suggestions.

Weather outside: nice and warm
What hurts: hamstring
What I want to eat: nothing. quite full, and very fat
What I'm wearing: my first toe up socks (lorna's laces in bittersweet. 1 is 1 inch shorter than the other, that's the smallest problem), black old navy pants, melon polo style shirt
What I'm crafting: Mystery sock finished yesterday, Daffodil design on hiatus, Endpaper mitts on hiatus, mockery socks on hiatus. No good project
What I'm watching: lots of HGTV :)
Best thing that happened this weekend: Finished socks
Worst thing that happened this weekend: Kevin got really really sick yesterday. He's pretty blah, but doiung a bit better today
What I'm most looking forward to this week: Getting packages from and
What I'm least looking forward to this week: Nothing really...
Last thing I bought: A TON of grocery stuff
Something I want to buy: Stuff for soap. Except I want to make sure I like making soap before I buy TOO much more.
A link to share: this has to be the coolest body products supplier in the world. Especially check out the Soap TV - SO helpful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shampoo Review

In August, I became obsessed with Shampoo Bars. I want to reduce plastic consumption and this seemed like a good way to start. (A teeny amount. I'm not a huge shampoo consumer, but it was an easily identifiable place to reduce. It still counts.) Additionally, this shampoo gets rid of most of the chemicals (SLS, for example) that are in commercial shampoos. Sadly, they still have palm oil, so I'm doing the orangatans no favors.

You can read my original post here

So my review, after 3 months of use. Two thumbs up! I love them.
I haven't had a chance to use the Aloe Vera one yet (these last a long time) but I've tried slivers of both Peppermint/Tea Tree and the Rosemary one.

The other thing to note is that I kept using my regular conditioner. Now that my hair is short, maybe I don't need it. When it was long, I think I definetly did.

So first, I started with the Peppermint. I cut off a sliver about 1/3 to 1/4 of the bar, and it lasted about 2 months. So a full bar is going to last a LONG time. I love the smell of it, and I love the way it feels on my scalp/hair. First off- I don't know how to describe my hair. I would say it used to be dry and frizzy, and my scalp would itch a lot, so I wouldn't wash it more than every 5 days or so to give it some time to get oily again before washing. That is not the case anymore. The itching is COMPLETELY gone, so while I don't believe SLS will kill you NOW! (see google for more information about instant death through shampoo- j/k) I think it was definetly why my head was itchy. After using this shampoo for awhile my hair felt very different. It didn't feel OILY- my hair wasn't sticky, but it almost felt glossy. So I washed it more often in case it was dirty, but I don't think it was. With this shampoo, when my hair was longer, I was washing it every 2-3 days, instead of every 5-7. The peppermint also lathered nicely. I would swipe it down my hair 4 times and then lather quickly in my hands, and that was a good amount of lather.

Then I switched to the Rosemary Nettle. My first impression was that there wasn't as much lather. I haven't noticed any difference from it and the Peppermint other than that and the scent (I smell like italian cooking). I really like this too. However, my initial impression has changed after I cut my hair. The lather is HUGE. I think before maybe I just didn't use enough for the amount of hair I have? But now I feel like my head is full of bubbles. With the short hair I wash it everyday, just because I need it wet to style, but I still think I could do every other day and be fine.

My big warning is this: keep these dry! Kevin is going to build me a draining soap dish, but right now I just set them on a dry wash cloth near the back of my shower away from the shower spray. I also step out of the shower spray to put it on my hair. They will melt away otherwise. Since i started using the felted soap, the washcloth has been more wet and I noticed that my shampoo was a little soggy. OOPS, that will cut into the lifespan a bit...

Head over to Praire Land Herbs and get some for yourself! I feel good about supporting an indepedent business, a soap crafter, reducing my plastic waste, and my head doesn't itch anymore. Win-win-win-win, I think. And hey- they are on sale right now.

(Newest obsession: melt and pour soap. The supplies are on the way. Posts to be coming soon.)

I've been knitting!

The green mystery socks just need a toe. And I have a finished project to share. Since I skipped my Monday update, this one is a surprise, I never mentioned I was knitting it. To be honest, it's not perfect. It flops over when I wear it, unless I bunch it or pin it in the back. But it does look really pretty with a jacket. Without a jacket Kevin says it looks like I'm wearing a doily on my neck. I don't really like scarves so I'm going to experiment with more cowls. I think maybe this one flops because it's too loose since i added an extra stitch repeat due to "big headedness". Next time I will not do that, and just go up a needle size.

This was a good learning project. I learned sewn cast off (super easy) and adding beads with a crochet hook (harder to find the size 12 hook than to actually do, but it is a bit fiddly) Expect more beaded objects!

I'd like to make this for my sister. But she's very stylish, so I'm not sure she'd wear a cowl... Would you?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Last Sunday...

Remember I told you I went to the zoo? Well here are the pictures I've been meaning to post all week. It was a pretty good zoo. No red panda :( but bonus points for white tigers (though I think one was dead. Seriously, look at the cat's neck. The breathing was just to throw us off).
When we got to the zoo we sent the in-laws a picture of the dome to see if they knew where we were. It's always shown during the college world series. They said it looked familiar, but they couldn't place it. So at the end of the day we took a picture of Kevin on the famous dog pile statue, and they got it right away. They were also at a longhorn game when they received that message- hopefully the longhorns will be in Omaha at the end of the season. (The Aggies are sadly missing from all the championship plaques). But then last night we noticed in the picture you can see "mutual of Om" - so we looked at the dome picture we actually sent. The word "Omaha" is clearly visible.. LOL

Favorite animals- the otters or the orangutans. They were lively and being adorable. And there was a cute gorilla baby. And goats at the petting zoo who just could not care less how much you touched them. Kevin tried to steal one, but it didn't work. I asked the llama if I could make it into a sweater, but it said no.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


So anyhow, this was our anniversary trip. Our actual anniversary we won't be able to have a nice celebration, so we decided this should be it. It will be 5 years, my goodness time flies.

We dropped Elsa off at Brianna's house (thanks!) and headed out to Omaha. Man western Iowa has a TON of wind turbines.

Because of the 3 nights I stayed in a hotel for Motown Tango we earned a free night. With no other time to use it, we decided this would be a great idea. We got a room at the Holiday Inn in Omaha, and it was gorgeous. The lobby was beautiful for this class of hotel, and the room great. It had 2 "areas" divided by a full and half wall, so the bedroom was essentially seperate from the living room. And both areas had HDTVs in them. Too bad it was only one night :(

We went for dinner at Le Voltaire and it was just fantastic.
We started with an appetizer sampler: escargot, smoked salmon, baked brie, duck pate, and artichoke and spinach gratin. So yummy!!!! Well except the duck pate. I was not a fan. But Kevin liked that. The brie was so good (I had actually forgotten about it...) and the escargot was lovely. Kevin and I joke that if you prepared a tennis shoe with that much garlic and butter it would taste good. But the gratin, on the bread they served, was definetly my favorite.

For my main course I had a filet mignon which was served with a brandy peppercorn sauce. I was worried about the taste of brandy (yuck!) but there was none at all. The sauce was incredible! And just the right amount of pepper, though occasionally biting into a peppercorn was a bit of a shock :) It was served with incredible mashed potatoes, and sadly over salted carrots and too crunchy for me green beans. Oh well, I can have vegetables anywhere.

For dessert I went with the creme brulee. (Seriously, how could you get anything else?) It was very good, though I think the sugar was more burnt that i prefer. The creme was very thick and very sweet. It was one of the best ones I had, but it was so sweet I could not eat it all- I get sugar headaches...

Then we went back to the hotel and watched the rest of the Texas football games (great football weekened for Iowa, A&M, and Texas) and I worked on the knitting project I started in the car- and am almost finished with now :)


I didn't do my Monday post, and as Kevin put it "How will I ever know what the best thing you did this weekend was". Sorry folks, guess you won't know the BEST.

But I do plan to tell you about my weekend. I need to get the pictures uploaded. This weekend was our Omaha trip. (WOO HOO- another state crossed off the map.)

Before we went there though we had friends over for dinner and games on Friday. We had excellent hamburgers, with homemade toasted buns courtesy of Kevin, and brownies and ice cream from Brianna and Doug.

Then we played Carcassone, which was excellent fun and highly recommended. I came close to winning, but Doug was laying around in the field and took it at the end.

After that we moved onto Pass the Pigs, which I DID win, twice. An excellent "in between" game, as it's silly and quick.

Then we played Fluxx a few times- still one of my favorite card games.