Homemade Natural Deodorant

After my last post about Natural Deodorants, whether they work and the testing of a few brands, I decided to look into a homemade option as even the ones I tested contained a few ingredients I was unsure of. For full comfort and control over what is going on my body, I went with a simple recipe whose competence is assured by many bloggers and naturalists.

After scouring the internet, blogs and write-ups, I discovered that one recipe monopolized the internet. I decided to try it out for myself and see if it was something practical and efficient.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup organic cold-pressed coconut oil (solid state)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (aluminum-free)
  • 1/4 cup starch (arrowroot powder, cornstarch)
  • essential oils (optional)
Mix together the arrowroot powder and baking soda in a bowl before adding the coconut oil. Warmed the oil a little bit on the stove in a water bath to soften it. Add the coconut oil and any desired essential oils. Place the mixture in a flexible container and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to harden. Silicon ice pop trays work well.

Coconut oil solidifies at roughly 76°F so it is best to keep this deodorant in the fridge, especially during the summer and to take great care when traveling with it. One of the bloggers who used this recipe loaded it into a cleaned out deodorant stick before being placed in the fridge to harden and form a deodorant “stone.”

All of these ingredients are inexpensive and the concoction works! Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is deemed to have antibacterial qualities. The starch assists in keeping you feeling dry while the baking soda removes any and all odors. As the coconut oil is cold pressed and organic, it is as unrefined as possible and only has a slight coconut smell that will not last long. I decided to add a few drops of peppermint essential oil and lavender essential oil for a fresh and fragrant scent. Be careful when dressing as it does contain oil and can stain your clothes (will come out in the wash). It helps to let it soak in for a bit before dressing. I still found applying twice a day to have the best results.

How to Make a Floral Crown

Never too old to explore meadows barefoot and fill your hair with daisies. 

Following picture and text courtesy of Etsy. See full article here

How to Make a Floral Crown

August 27, 2012

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Photo by Amanda Thomsen

Brittany Watson Jepsen

HouseThatLarsBuilt

Brittany Watson Jepsen is an American designer and crafter living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her motto is “a creative mess is better than tidy idleness.” Find her on her blog, The House That Lars Built, and her Etsy shop, where she designs and sells kitchen accessories and all things floral.

Floral crowns are sure having their moment of glory these days. The trend pops into fashion every now and again, but some of the most inspiring versions are those from the Pre-Raphaelites.

I spotted Spring by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (look closely!) last year while at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and ever since I’ve been wanting to make my own version. I finally sat down and experimented with some lovely flowers and wish I had an excuse to wear it around town. Thankfully, a wedding is the perfect excuse to don a floral crown. The beauty of working with real flowers is that you don’t need any materials other than the flowers.

So, let’s go!

Materials:
Flowers of your choice and clippers. The pliable flowers are best to work with for the base of the crown. Try bending the stem first to make sure it doesn’t crack. If it does, consider trying something else. For this floral crown, I used black dahlias, tidsel (the greenery for the base), astilbe (the pink), craspedia (the yellow balls), and virburnum berries (the turquoise and purple).

Step 1:
Cut and line up the first round of flowers for the base of your crown. Ideally, the stems should be 5-9″ long each. You can cut them down but it’s harder to work with shorter stems. I suggest using greenery first and then adding the colors into it.

Step 2:
Lay one stem perpendicular on top of another.

Step 3:
Bend the stem under.

Step 4:
Bring the stem up to the top and then press it down so it lies next to the first.

Step 5:
While holding the two stems in place with your left hand, place another stem on top and bend it under.

Step 6:
Bring the stem up again and then place it parallel with the others.

Step 7:
Repeat the process until it’s the size of the circumference of the head. I added some different greenery into the middle to create more of a focal point when it’s worn.

Step 8:
When you get to the end, wrap the last stem tightly around the others to secure them in place, making sure that it doesn’t break.

Step 9:
To finish off the circle, weave the last stems into the beginning of the crown by tucking them in.

Step 10:
Now you can start adding in other flowers. I added longer pieces first so that the shorter flowers can be seen at the end.

Step 11:
Place your show-stopper flowers evenly around the crown. I used black dahlias as my main piece.

Finishing Touches:
Continue adding in your flowers evenly around the crown. I added in berries at the end for some exclamation marks.

There are several different versions to a floral crown. You can switch off flowers for the base of the crown instead of adding the flowers in at the end, or you can keep it simple and just use one variety.

After completing one, you’ll want to turn every flower you see into a crown.
Good luck!

Photography by Brittany Watson Jepsen and Amanda Thomsen.

Salted Caramel Lava Cakes

The following pictures and text are courtesy of Etsy and the full article can be viewed here

Eatsy: Salted Caramel Lava Cakes

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Photo by Adrianna Adarme

acozykitchen

Sure, Valentine’s Day is all about love, Cupid and romantic gestures, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, this holiday’s real lure is the sweets. While I’ll gladly pass on stale conversation hearts, a-bit-too-rich truffles or drugstore chocolates, my world stops for salted caramels. I’ll forever be a sucker for the flavor contrast of salty and sweet.

Many of you might find yourselves needing a quick and easy dessert recipe post work-day. This recipe will make two delicious, gooey salted caramel lava cakes with minimal ingredients, and a speedy assembly and bake time. And if you’re a single lady (or dude) on this Valentine’s Day, please make this —the recipe is easily halved!

Salted Caramel Lava Cakes 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and divided
6 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon large sea salt flakes (such as Maldon), plus more for sprinkling
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 1-inch square good quality sea salt caramels

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottoms of two 6-ounce ramekins with parchment paper. Next, butter the ramekins’ sides with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.

In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water), melt the chocolate and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; stir until smooth. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool until it’s warm to the touch, and then mix in the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Fold in the flour and combine until the batter is smooth.

Equally divide the batter between the two ramekins. Next, gently nuzzle two caramels into the center of each ramekin, until the batter covers the caramels. Transfer the ramekins to a baking sheet and place in the oven to bake for 12-13 minutes. Invert the cakes onto plates and top with a sprinkling of sea salt and a dollop of whipped cream. Or serve with ice cream; that’d be good, too!

All photos by Adrianna Adarme.

For The Love of Martha: Pet-Silhouette Tote

Every once in a while I browse Martha Stewart’s website to see what kind of crazy craft projects she comes up with. Some of them are wonderful ideas! As a homemade gift to an animal lover, Martha provides the following step-by-step instructions for making a Pet-Silhouette Tote Bag. The following images and text are courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.

Tools and Materials

  • Photograph of dog’s profile
  • Ultrasuede fabric
  • Fabric pen
  • Fabric scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Natural-canvas tote bag (ecobags.com)
  • Twill tape

Step 1:

Photocopy picture, enlarging so that dog is about two-thirds the height of the bag; cut out along dog’s outline.

Step 2:
Lay photo cutout, face up, on front of fabric, and trace with fabric pen. Cut out. Flip fabric silhouette.
Step 3:
Cut out. Flip fabric silhouette. Apply glue to dog’s head. Position silhouette, glue side down, on bag; press to adhere. Apply glue to the rest of the back of the silhouette in sections, pressing and smoothing out as you work
Step 4:
Cut a length of twill tape slightly longer than needed to form a collar and leash. Apply glue to 1 side of twill tape in sections; position tape on dog, starting with the back of the dog’s neck and curving the tape to mimic a collar. At front of dog’s neck, tuck tape slightly under the fabric. This will make it easier to pivot the tape upward for the leash. Continue gluing and positioning tape for leash. Let dry.

I can think of one adorable teacup black poodle names Lyla that would made an adorable silhouette.

DIY: Weaving a Complex Ojo de Dios

I came across this great art project on Etsy for weaving your own Ojo de Dios. These stunning, brightly colored “Eyes of God” are made from simple sticks and colored yarn. All photos and text are courtesy of Etsy. 

Ojos de Dios, which is Spanish for “Eyes of God,” are made from yarn and sticks by native peoples of Mexico and South America. Native Americans of the Southwestern United States adopted the craft more recently, and the eight sided mandala of the Navajo is the basic pattern that I’ve most often used in my own work.

These instructions are not intended to teach you how to construct one particular ojo, but rather to demonstrate techniques that you can use to improvise and create your own unique design. Let’s get started!


Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Sticks — I use doweling, available at building supply places and hardware stores. You can use 1/4″ for up to 16″, 5/16″ for up 22″ Ojo de Dios, and 3/8″ for up to 32″, and 7/16″ for up to 40″ Ojo de Dios.
  • Yarn
  • Scissors suitable for cutting yarn
  • A yarn needle — A large needle with an eye large enough for yarn to fit through it, and a blunt end where other needles are sharp.

Directions:

1. Planning Your Ojos de Dios: For an eight-sided ojo, consider the overall pattern to be two four-sided ojos joined together. Each set of sticks for these two parts are notched in the middle, about 1/4 the thickness of the sticks, so the two sticks fit and stack closely together. Keeping yarn tight is a problem, so I’ll make small notches, with a file or pocket knife, every inch (closer on a smaller than 12 inch ojo) all along the doweling. Besides holding the yarn from slipping in towards the center, the notches act as guides for keeping the pattern even.

Equally important as the pattern that you weave in an ojo, are the color combinations that you choose. Myself, I tend to stick with colors from the American Southwest. I recommend choosing color combinations that you find especially beautiful in nature. There are also color wheel sites online that might be useful in matching up harmonious colors (such asCOLOURlovers), although I’ve always gone by intuition and schemes from nature myself, and drawn inspiration from other artists.

2. Start Weaving: Start with the two sticks that will be the top two of the eventual 8-sided pattern. The way of making the central diamond is exactly the same from the very start, and the pattern that makes that central diamond also holds the first two sticks together.

Holding your first two sticks as illustrated here, cross over the central joining of the sticks, wrap around one stick two times, bringing your yarn to a new starting place, then cross over again, wrap around the next stick, and so on, to build up your central diamond pattern.

From the very beginning, watch to keep the pattern even. Look at both the space between strands of yarn, and the amount the diamond pattern has expanded along each stick. If you’re not satisfied, start over. Errors are easy enough to correct when caught early.

3. Add New Colors: To add to this, cut the old color to where a one inch tail is left, and simply twist the new color to the old, leaving the tails running along the stick. After a couple wraps have securely held the new color in place, you can snip the tails shorter, so they won’t get in the way later.

4. Prepare the Second Set of Sticks: When you are finished with your central diamond, cut the color yarn you are working with, leaving enough tail to tuck under itself to hold it temporarily in place. Prepare your second set of sticks in the same manner. After finishing the central diamond, prepare a second set of sticks with a solid color diamond, to be used behind the central diamond. I always make this second diamond slightly larger than the first, so it shows up well in the finished ojo.

5. Attach the Two Sets of Sticks: Now comes the trickiest part. Most commonly I use a dagger pattern at this point to hold the two sets of sticks together. Choosing my next color yarn, I start the new color by securing it over the tails of the last color one twist under itself, leaving a tail running down beside the earlier color. Now, holding the sets of sticks together with thumb and forefinger, I use my other hand to bring the yarn underneath both from where I started, as illustrated.

This stage, so near the beginning of the project, is the most difficult stage, so take your time with it, and don’t be afraid to unwind and start over again if the dagger pattern you are creating to hold the sets together doesn’t look quite right. Remember, once you have this stage down, everything else will be relatively easy-going.

Surprisingly, with just one strand of yarn running underneath, and wrapped twice around the opposite end of your starting stick, your ojo is already sturdy enough that you can now twirl the ojo to continue wrapping. In this case I went back and forth four times, then did the same temporary tie as when ending the diamond, by tucking the cut end underneath itself once, leaving a tail long enough to start a new color later. Be careful to keep things centered, and remember, although the ojo at this point may seem horribly wobbly and unwieldy, it will now grow stronger with every wrap of yarn that strings underneath the two sets, holding it all together with more and more strands of yarn as the pattern grows.

6. Continue Weaving: As you work, use your fingernails to push the strands of yarn into a nice even pattern. Throughout any ojo I create, I’m constantly making tiny little adjustments with my fingernails, both on the front and back sides. Be sure to keep adjusting the sticks to be evenly distanced from each other, as well as evenly balanced on top of each other. With practice, making all these little, but necessary, adjustments, will become automatic.

With this ojo in the illustrations, I’ve decided to do what I call a kaleidoscope pattern, where I switch colors frequently, alternating between the two original sets of sticks with interwoven diamonds. First I wove the orange, then the gold added with the yarn, in the way I almost invariably add onto a pattern, running underneath the earlier color. These beginning diamonds have three rows of yarn each, wrapping twice around each stick, unless I adjust how far along the stick the pattern is growing, by either wrapping once, or perhaps even three times. Occasionally I’ll use my thumbnail to gently push a pattern into a more agreeable looking place.

A challenge for me with this type of ojo, is to try and avoid any part of the pattern looking like a boring square, or box, sitting flat. We see all too much of that kind of shape in our lives: walls, buildings, TVs, and so much more!  I think that circles and interlocking diamonds are so much more agreeable to the eye in an ojo. The other main challenge is to use colors in a harmonious and pleasing way. Be sure there is enough contrast between adjoining colors, so that they don’t blend too easily into each other and create a kind of uneasy blurring of the line between them. Also, though, try hard not to have two adjoining colors clash sharply.

7. Keeping Color in Mind: It’s important, besides following the well known guides of the color wheel (search for online help if needed) to be aware of how color types fit together: primary colors; pastel colors, jewel tones, and earth tone colors. Some people would say not to mix these different types. I say, mix carefully, and be aware of the effect that the different types have. I often mix in a couple jewel tones with a mainly earth-toned ojo, using the jewel tones for highlights. I like that kind of effect a lot. Pastel tones can also be used for highlights against a background of earth tones.

I’ll start creating an ojo with as many as fifteen or twenty balls of yarn beside me to choose from, but usually narrow the colors down to seven, or maybe nine, for an ojo of this size. For one of my much larger ojos, I might actually use fifteen colors. I’ve found that it’s generally a good idea, once you have used a certain color, to repeat it again later in your design, rather than have any one color stand alone. Also, it’s often best to pick out one or two colors to be your dominant color theme, and let all other colors play lesser roles. However, any and all generalities about color I’ve made here, I’ve broken many times in my own creations, so never feel bound by rules, but rather try to let intuition lead you to the highest of artistic creativity, if at all possible!

8. Weaving Patterns: In this particular ojo, after a bit of contemplation, I decide to add a bold, simple pattern, to balance out the quick changes I’ve woven so far. Here I’ve added four rows of a mossy green, then one row of a bronze color, then two more rows of the green. To prepare for the next stage, which will be orange going to all of the sticks, I’ll snip the yarn seen closest to the bottom of this photo short, and start the pattern from the stick which you see here in my hand.

Next, I weave to every third stick, and wrapping around the sticks twice on average, I make an eight pointed star pattern. With this pattern, the angle to and from each stick is very sharp, and you can easily wrap three times around each stick without your yarn bunching up at all. Also, its a good time to really even up your pattern, as there is more flexibility than at other points in the process to wrap the yarn more times, or fewer times, around each stick and still not show too much of either separation between the strands of yarn or to have the yarn bunch up too closely together.

9. Creating a Border: Finally I add the border, wrapping on average once per stick. On the last time around, I might give some extra wraps to the stick ends; the last chance to make the pattern come out even. When I get back to the starting stick for the last time, I cut a tail two or three inches long, and wrap three or four times around the stick, tucking the end of the yarn underneath itself once on each turn around the stick. The tail left at the very end I cut to about one inch in length, and tucked it in between the wrapped stick and ojo border, on the back side.

10. Adding Embellishments: The ojo could be declared finished right here, but I usually add some embroidery to the border, using a yarn needle. In this ojo I’ve chosen to embroider a fairly complex circular design. When I curve back at the two ends of such a design, I find it’s best to run the yarn underneath the back strands of that section of the design, to hold the last stitch properly in place.

Experiment a bit as you make this type of design, and try and find a balance between the design made by the yarn, and the spaces created in between the design elements. I encourage everyone to try adding needlework to your ojos. The design possibilities are endless, and you can truly make an ojo your own with a new and unique bit of needlework. Designs can also be added to parts of the ojo before the
border, and can even be used to pull the yarn of an ojo into a new position. After getting the working end of the needlework yarn back to the starting position, I tie the two ends together with a square knot.

11. Finishing: The final step is to add a loop to the backside for hanging the ojo.

You can find many examples of Ojo de Dios possibilities in my Etsy shop, and also in a Facebook group I started, Ojos de Dios, Yarn Mandalas of the World, where weavers from many countries around the globe have showcased their work. Happy weaving to you!

If you make your own Ojo de Dios, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.