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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Things I Made Lately - Early 2016

Hi guys, I haven't been doing any sewing yet this year, though I'd like to! I made these crocheted dolls, using the Yoda and Storm Trooper patterns from this book I got for Christmas. I found the BB-8 pattern on Etsy.

The Storm Trooper is a little fuzzy and more loosely shaped since she already had to take a ride in the washing machine. Yoda's cute jacket is killing me - they did a particularly great job with that pattern.

This is the Sleep Season Slouch hat, a free pattern from Fancy Tiger. I used the Madelinetosh Tosh DK yarn in Rain Water. It is such nice yarn to work with, and it looks and feels great. 

I debated adding that hot pink pom-pom. I don't always like pink. But then I realized how easy it would be to cut it off someday if I don't like it. I can either make a different colored pom-pom in about 5 minutes, or just leave the hat plain.

I also finished my sweater! But I don't have it here to take a photo of it. Here's what it looked like several months ago. It's this Daelyn Pullover pattern by Isabell Kraemer. I used the Madelinetosh Tosh Merino yarn in Cosmic Wonder Dust. I love it! 

So, I had worked my ass off to finish it in time to wear it this winter. I wove in my ends, but then I could see one end's lumpy path, like a mole hill, on the front of the sweater. I was unpicking that tail, to re-weave it in, while watching tv. Suddenly, I had pulled too far and made a small hole in it! (sob!) 

My sweater is with Stefanie, and I'm hoping she can repair it. I think it's a simple fix but I just don't have the eye for figuring it out yet. Did one stitch come undone? Two? I honestly can't tell. Hopefully she'll be able to mend it for me, or tell me what to do so I can wear it sometime soon. 

What have you been making this year?

Paint Your Pots! Make It From Scratch Herb Garden

Hi guys, today I thought I'd share some pots that I decorated for my herbs. I'll keep these indoors, near my kitchen. It's great to have fresh herbs readily available year-round (and so much cheaper if you're able to keep the plant alive for a long time. Herbs can get expensive to buy in the winter!) Some good ones to grow in pots inside include mint, basil, parsley, and rosemary. 

Greens are another category of good kitchen plants: spinach, lettuce and kale will grow right there on your windowsill, encouraging you to eat well and staying safe from aphids and slugs. My garden kale is always covered in aphids by the middle of summer. This year, I'll try growing some inside, too. 

I planted some mint seeds this spring, but they didn't germinate. I planned on buying more seeds and just trying again, but I saw some great mint plants at Lowe's and decided to just buy those and be able to add fresh mint to my drinks immediately. They had sweet mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, and peppermint and I got one of each. I picked up some plain terracotta pots and spray paint, and started decorating.

I used four different techniques to make a fun group of pots. 

1. Paint and then stamp. I used a sample pot of purple paint as the base. Then I stamped on gold and silver stars. My first couple of stars were a little too smeared for me, so I just used a wet paper towel to wipe off the ink and tried again. I wanted a crisper, sharp look, rather than shabby chic. If you like the shabby chic style, you can ink the stamp, then wipe off some of the ink on a paper towel before stamping on the pot.

After the ink was dry, I sprayed clear paint on top to preserve my stars. 

2. Stripes. First I spray painted the whole pot black. This seems backward, but the cheap black paint I bought had terrible coverage and needed many coats to look solid (and was extremely stinky!). The pricier silver paint had excellent coverage and only needed one or two coats. I knew it could cover the black paint with no problem, but I had my doubts about going in the opposite order. If you buy nice paint, I'd say to do the lighter color first. I definitely advise buying name-brand paint! It's worth it. 

After the black base was completely dry, I used painter's tape to make stripes of varying widths. It's tough to get straight lines around a curved pot that gets smaller at the bottom. (I did my best to make nice stripes, but ended up using a paint brush and some acrylic paint to go over the lines. I liked the look better when it was free-hand all the way around, rather than sharp and straight at the top of each stripe and jagged at the bottom.)

If you get a pot that's got straight sides, it will be easy to make straight stripes. If not, do your best to make stripes with the tape. Then spray with the second color to cover the untaped sections. Do as many coats as needed to get the coverage you want. After it's dry, peel off the tape. Then touch up the stripes as needed.

3. The Fade. I sprayed the whole pot with silver paint. After it was dry, I turned it upside down. Using black paint, I slowly, almost reluctantly added black to the bottom. Be stingy! For this look, you don't want the black to be too solid. 

As you move higher up the pot, you want the black paint to be fainter and lighter. Start spraying the air next to the pot and then aim the stream of paint onto the pot so you get just a little paint on it. Continue until you are happy with the look!

4. Add letters. First I sprayed the pot silver. After it was completely dry, I chose some gold chipboard letters to spell out the plant's name. These letters are made for scrapbooking, but of course you could use any type of letters. Mine are self-stick, but I added super glue to hold them on more securely.

Sweet mint is such a cute name, and I love it in the gold letters. 

 After the pots were dry, I let them air out in the sun for a few hours. I wanted to let the paint fumes off-gas before I put my plants in the pots. 

I have little kids, so this type of project that needs drying time in between steps works out really well! I could stop to get snacks or get out toys or put away toys or refill water cups.

 Then, finally, I transplanted my mint into the pots. It was nice out, so I did it in the yard and didn't have to clean up the soil I spilled! I watered them freely and let the excess run out into the grass. It was so nice to make a mess and not have to clean up. The grass probably benefitted from my spills. 

We're expecting at least 8 inches of snow this weekend, so I love looking at these photos of a sunny, warm day, working with plants. I will enjoy adding leaves from my mint plants to smoothies and drinks as I wait for warmer weather to return! 

Will you plant anything to grow inside this spring?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Make It From Scratch Gardening: Seedling Check-In

Hi all,

Now that it's officially spring, we're getting closer to planting outside. I've planted some more seeds inside: more Rosemary, Cauliflower, Red Cabbage, Cumin, Sage, Greek Oregano, Thyme, English Lavender, Pansies, Hidcote Blue Lavender, and Calendula.

I'm starting to think about how to lay out my garden, so we'll talk about that soon.

How are your seedlings coming along? Here's a quick look at what's growing at my house:

Sprouts to eat: Alfalfa and French Garden Mix (Clover, Arugula, Cress, Radish, Fenugreek and Dill).


Calendula, Cumin, and Sage

Cauliflower and Red Cabbage

Rosemary, Thyme, and Greek Oregano

Spinach and Madder

Dyer's Chamomile

German Chamomile and Lemon Mint

Indigo and Artichokes (there are some empty pots that had been planted with spearmint that didn't germinate).

Pansies and Johnny Jump-Ups 

Lavender and Pansies. They are tiny shoots right now, and hard to see in this photo, but they are growing.

Sunflower Sprouts. For eating - once there are two leaves on each plant, I'll snip them off and add them to salads and sandwiches. They are delicious!

Baby Leeks, Rosemary, and Celery. I'm not having a good germination rate with my Rosemary, but a tiny bit of investigation told me why. The seeds like to be pretty warm (70 degrees) and my loft/makeshift greenhouse probably isn't consistently that warm. If I don't have enough seedlings in a week or two, I will try again. The temperature should be warmer then, and I can water with warm water, make sure they are well covered to insulate them, and place them in the warmest spot in front of the window.  

If any of your seeds haven't come up, go ahead and try again now! I'll often try to use leftover seeds from the year before, but they don't always have a high rate of germination. If they come up, that's great; I saved some money by not buying new seeds. If they don't come up, I just plant some more. 

When I replant, I make sure to read the packet instructions carefully, in case I missed something important the first time. Some seeds need to be soaked before being planted. Some need very warm temperatures to wake them up. I might also do a Google search to see if there's a tip online that isn't on the packet. Feel free to ask if you're having any trouble and I'll do my best to help out!

Hope your seedlings are growing well!