Author: Zara (page 1 of 3)

Forty: Funky fresh facewipes

 

After a big day (or a late night), the last thing I want to do is wash my makeup off. All I desire is to crawl into bed and sleep (mmmmmm….sleep). Historically, I’ve used make up wipes to deal with my laziness, but as I’ve written before I’m trying to move away from single use items.

I figured that reusable make up wipes could be made at home. After doing some research, I decided to use this method as a guide, making a few adjustments along the way.

Rather than purchasing washcloths (as suggested by the method) I grabbed a pair of flannelette PJs which died an early death (due to a big rip in a location difficult to repair) and tore up a legs worth into 15-20cm squares and overlocked the edges. I then shoved all of these squares (14 in total) into a jar.

Now, for the solution! I mixed together boiled water (to kill any bacteria in the water), witch hazel (an astringent to remove excess oil) as well as some jojoba and vitamin e oils (apparently oil dissolves oil, and my face gets oilyyyy). The method I was following also called for castile soap, but a few other mixtures I read did not include this ingredient. So, cause we didn’t have castile soap on hand, I just omitted it from the mixture!

Once I’d measured out each item and had given it a vigorous stir, I poured it into the jar over the squares I’d prepared earlier. It’s been great on the nights I’ve been feeling lazy to just pluck out a wipe and remove the day from my face! I’ve got a small container in the bathroom which I pop the used wipe in and once they’re all used I’ll put them through the machine with a load of towels.

I’m also considering looking up a method to make body wipes, I’m heading to Nepal in January/February for two weeks as part of my work. There will be a stretch on the trip where the possibility of bathing is unlikely, so it might be wise to take some as a way to keep….ermmm…fresh!

Thirty-Nine: Stress Scarf

I’m pretty darn good at finding wool in op-shops and a few months ago the yarn-gods were kind, bestowing upon me five skeins of 100% New Zealand 8-ply wool in a brilliant shade of red. For some time now, I’ve been wanting a  red scarf/shawl so I knew exactly what I’d be making with my new haul.

When I found the wool, I was about two months out from the major event I run. Event management is a pretty stressful job and through the planning process I have to make sure I have space in my life for stress reducing activities. Crocheting is proving to be my ultimate stress busting activity so the project became known as my ‘stress scarf’ around the lunchroom table (myself and a few of my colleagues will often crochet on our lunch breaks).

I spent quite a while on Ravelry trawling for a shawl and after much deliberation decided to actually pay for a pattern (usually I’m a cheapskate and find free tutorials online). The pattern I chose was a simple design, incorporating pom-poms…so I couldn’t say no! You can check it out here. 

After crocheting for some time, I realised that the pattern was asymmetric. I’m a very symmetrical person so I did not handle this very well…but I was too far into the project to turn back. So I decided to finish the project and if I never wore it to give it away or pull out the whole thing and start with a different pattern. Making the pompoms was great (I might use them on a blanket I’m working on at the moment) and it was great to learn the combination of stitches used to create them. I blocked the shawl to help it sit evenly and wove in the ends.

I finished the shawl ages prior to the conference (I’m not sure if that is an indicator of the stress of the conference or the amount of time I spend crocheting!), but it was too warm to wear it to the actual event itself (in late October). When the weather has permitted, I have worn it and I have to say I enjoy wearing it much more than I expected. The frequency in which I wear the shawl next winter will be the true indicator, but if I’m not a fan the next conference won’t be far away, so I’ll need some stress relief!!!.

 

Thirty-Eight: Beeswax Wraps

If you’ve explored the plastic free world at all, you’ve probably come across beeswax wraps. A replacement for cling wrap, they are made from thin cotton fabric and infused with melted wax to make a pliable, waterproof covering for food. The wax softens with the warmth of your hands and is then flexible and able to be moulded to your bowl.

A few years back I made some beeswax wraps by grating beeswax (which I purchased online from an Apiarist) evenly over fabric squares (all scraps I had lying around at home) and melting it in the oven. The wraps weren’t great, the wax became soft but lacked the cling factor (check out the method I followed here). After some more research I found that including a few other ingredients along with the wax was the trick…jojoba oil for some extra softness and pine rosin (resin from trees!) to add tackiness.

Finding jojoba oil was no problem at all, I ordered it yonks ago when I made deodorant from the same online store. Pine rosin was harder to source! After some research I found that rosin is often used by dancers and gymnasts to create grip on slippery floors. So, I looked up a local dance store in Essendon and to my delight they stocked rosin, so I got to work.

I found that my previous grate, spread, melt procedure meant that the three ingredients didn’t combine, leaving pools of wax, oil and rosin scattered across the fabric. Some googling led me to a method where you used a double boiler to melt and mix the items together, then use an old pastry brush to paint the mixture on, pop in the oven on a tray to even the wax out and then hang up to dry.  And apart from leaving a sticky residue on the bowl which has proven impossible to remove, it worked a treat!

I made fifteen new wraps and even re-waxed the wraps I made a few years ago (they are so much better!). All of the wraps were made from fabric I already had on hand and I’m really happy with the end results. And I’ve got a heap of Christmas gifts ready to go 🙂

Thirty-Five & Thirty-Six: Blanket bender

Part of the thrill of crocheting (I just Nanna’d up a whole nother level with that statement) for me is finding wool at op shops which I can save from landfill and turn into something pretty and practical. A few times I’ve found bundles of a half dozen skeins of the same wool at an op shop, clearly abandoned projects by a fellow crafter. Finding enough wool of the same style and dye lot second hand is pretty rare, so even if I don’t have a project immediately in mind for the yarn, I grab it anyway and wait for inspiration to strike.

This habit of mine led to what I am now referring to as my blanket bender. I found 5 skeins of a lovely peach pink 100% wool at the oppy near work and couldn’t go past the $5 price so added it my wool stash. I spent some time wondering what to do with a colour that is neither my style or complimentary to my colouring, but nothing arose. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to expand my crochet skills and learn how to make hexagons. So, I used that as my starting point and got hooking (using this tutorial from Bella Coco). A few hexagons in I realised that the colour of the wool would be perfectly suited to my (then) 7 year old niece Charlotte, so I decided to turn the wool into a blanket for her.

In my wool stash I also had a two colour yarn in a darker peach pink and off white so added some hexagons in this style, along with a number of white or off white hexagons to complement. Joining the hexagons as I went meant that I finished the project quick smart! I added a border around the edges to finish it off and after finally blocking the blanket last month (In finished the crocheting in early May), it’s now ready to give to Charlotte on Christmas day.

  

After I realised I had a blanket for Charlotte and had already give one to my nephew Charles when he was born in February, I decided I wanted to make blankets for each of my nieces and nephews for Christmas so they each have something made by me. So, I set myself the task to make three more blankets by Christmas (this was in June/July).

The second blanket in my bender is for my nephew Noah. I taught myself another crocheting technique, the ripple blanket, using another Bella Coco tutorial (I think I might have a crochet crush!). It took me a few goes watching the tutorial on slow motion to get the hang of it, but it was pretty straight forward to pick up.

Noah’s blanket is shades of blue and grey, this colour combination in the ripple pattern means it looks a little like the ocean. Again, all the wool was from op shops (some even from Tassie when we went there in June). It does pose a challenge buying second hand wool as you cannot control the ply, I’ve tried to combat this by collecting yarns of a similar ply and choosing forgiving patterns. I’ve been doing the same for the other two blankets which will end my bender, which will have to be done by December 24th!

 

I’m really happy with both of the blankets, I learnt a two new techniques as well as the importance of blocking (the process of wetting your project, laying it flat and measuring it out and letting it dry so it is even in size and sits well). With blocking, I think I’ll block hexagons individually in the future to make the size more consistent.

And now, to continue my bender….I’m working on a green blanket for Arthur and a purple/navy/deep pink blanket for Evelyn. I better get hooking because I need to complete those, as well as a (large) handful of other creations to fulfil our I Made That! challenge of 2017. Stay tuned for Blanket Bender Part II.

Note: The main creation phase for these projects took place in April – July, I am only now just getting the chance to sit down and write about them. 

 

Thirty-Two: Daisy Dishcloths

I’m a Chux women, sponges just aren’t my preferred washing implement. The need to use a dishcloth has stayed with me and as we’re trying to move away from household items that have a limited lifespan we’ve been looking for other options.

When we first moved in together Simon purchased some Full Circle dishcloths, which are made from 100% organic cotton and have loops in the fabric to help with scrubbing. They’ve great to use and we just keep them cycling through the wash so we’ve got a fresh one when needed. However, I’d prefer something that uses recycled materials, why deplete the worlds resources further?

I came across a good DIY option when we were holidaying in Tassie earlier this year. One of our Air BnB’s had dishcloths made from retro towels, they looked fantastic and did the job of dishwashing well (the pile of towels makes these dishcloths good for scrubbing). So, I filed this project away in my mind. I noticed recently that our exisiting dishcloths were getting towards the end of their lives, so one evening I plucked an old school towel that was getting ratty around the edges from our linen cupboard and got to work.

 

Making them was simple, I cut the towel into squares (or squarish shapes) and simply overlocked around the edges. My overlocker thread collection is limited, but thankfully the bright yellow I had contrasted well with the blues and greens. I think it took me about 15 minutes to complete this project and now we have eight daisy dishcloths ready to put into rotation!

 

Thirty: Oh deer!

Many moons ago I purchased an AMAZING rug from Savers for $25. The rug is made up of a repetitive pattern of deers mid gallop set in oval frames surrounded by ferns and filigree. A combination of neutrals and a delightful green (which my google of ‘shades of green’ likens it to ‘pear’).

For a brief time the rug resided in one of my share houses loungerooms and while it brought me much joy, it also brought much dirt (and housemates dog’s pee) upon itself.  I spot cleaned the rug, removed it from the compromising situation and since then it’s been stored away. Originally, I had wanted to turn it into a wall hanging so when we made the move to Brunswick, I decided to make that happen.

One morning I got inspired to hang the dear thing. I found a piece of dowel in the shed, cut it to size and crocheted a some twine I had into a more fashionable hanger. I sewed tabs along the top of the rug, slipped the dowel through and then hung it up in our bedroom behind out bed.

  

To be honest, it doesn’t look as good as I imagined it would, which saddens me. I’m not sure if it’s because it doesn’t suit the space or because there’s inconsistencies in the colour because of spot cleaning or because the weight of the rug on the tabs I sewed have caused it to bow and sag along the top. Rather than writing it off completely I think I will get it dry cleaned, hoping the colour sorts itself out and fix my tabs up. Hopefully then, it will be as dear as I imagined it would be!

Note: Since making this wallhanging and getting around to posting it, I have taken it down and we’ve put up some other prints. Hopefully I’ll find a place for the hanging at our house, or find a good home for it.

Twenty-Nine: Ceaseless Cabbage

To simplify our grocery shopping and to eat more seasonally, Simon and I have started ordering a fruit and vegetable box from Ceres Fair Food. We’ve both been super impressed with both the variety and the quality of the produce. For about a month, each week there was cabbage in the box. After weeks of cabbage soup, stuffed cabbage rolls and even a cabbage curry (it is a thing!) we were pretty sick of this member of the brassica family!

So, when we received a wombok cabbage we decided to get our ferment on make some kimchi. Of course, it meant that we had to buy a number of other ingredients in order to make this Korean side dish, but I anticipate that the end result will be well worth it.

Simon and I made this one a team effort as we had a social engagement to get to, so we really needed to stick to the 20 minute prep time of our recipe. The process is really simple, mostly comprising of slicing and food processing. I found it interesting to see how kimchi gets its red chilli coating, its a mixture of water and rice flour which you head and turn into a paste. You then add in gochugaru (Korean chilli powder) which gives it spice and the colour.

We were surprised with how much the recipe yielded, filling one large jar and two small/medium ones. After sitting on the bench for a few days to get the fermentation process started, we’ve since popped it in the fridge so it can ferment to our liking. I haven’t yet tried the Kimchi, but Simon has and he said it’s pretty good. I look forward to sampling with some Korean cuisine.

 

Twenty-Seven: Savoury Character

By the end of winter I’m pretty over soup and am craving food that has crunch or at the very least, that I can chew.

Earlier in the week I cooked a meal that had egg yolks and omitted the white. I’m not a sweet tooth so wasn’t keen on whipping up a pav or some macarons. Instead, I threw together a batch of savoury granola to both use the egg whites (as a binding agent) and add that long desired crunch to what feels like a predominately pureed diet.

I’m not a stickler for recipes, so did a rudimentary google and picked the first recipe that popped up to get an idea of quantities and ingredients. From memory I threw the following ingredients in a bowl (I didn’t measure anything, so my quantities are just guesswork!)

  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • .5 cup of roughly chopped walnuts
  • .5 cup sunflower seeds
  • .3 cup of pepitas
  • .3 cup of seasame seeds (black and white)
  • 2 tbsp of poppyseeds
  • 2 tbsp of flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Good grind of pepper
  • A pinch of fennel seeds
  • 2 egg whites
  • Couple of lugs of olive oil
  • One lug of maple syrup

I mixed it all together, popped it on a baking tray in an 180 degree oven for 30 minutes (stirring once halfway through), let it cool and popped it in a jar! Looking forward to sampling it with some soup in the coming weeks, or on top of some avocado toast.

Twenty-Five & Twenty-Six: Triple Threat

Two years ago when Simon and I got married and moved into our first home we inherited some dark green leather couches from my Nonna. After two summers of sticking to the leather and two winters of chilled bottoms we decided that when we moved we’d buy a new couch. I spent hours researching and finally we landed on a Freedom couch. She ain’t the belle of the ball, but she’s quite practical and good looking enough to keep around (a bit like myself ;)).

We moved in May and since then, whenever I’ve looked at the cushions they’ve made me terribly uncomfortable as they do not coordinate with our decor at all. Naturally, I decided to make some cushion covers.

It is a bit tricky to describe the style of our house, but there’s a lot of timber, green, orange and already a bit of pattern (hrmmm…sounds quite 70’s).  So I didn’t want to add more busyness to the space by incorporating more colour or pattern. Thus, I decided to stick to natural tones and used what I’m referring to as a craft triple threat, sewing, weaving and crocheting to fashion the cushions. I utilitiesed calico and some camel suede I had in my fabric draw and added texture using weaving and crocheting.

(Top left: suede, right: crochet & bottom left: weaving)

Being the inner city hipster that I am, Simon got me a handloom for Christmas from Loom and Spindle so I started weaving to use as a textural piece. I found some lovely ivory chunky wool at an op shop and used both basic and soumak weave stitches to create my fabric. As it was my first proper go at weaving, I didn’t quite get my tension right and the piece was warped. I also knew the weaving would be too small for the pillow inserts I had, so devised a plan to put it inside a border of the camel suede with a calico backing.

I cut out the pieces of suede to create the border and when I laid it all out, it was NQR…there was too much going on. Calico was a much more complimentary fabric, so I cut out what I need and got sewing, making the back suede instead of the calico I had intended to use. Rather than wasting the strips of suede I cut out, I sewed them together along the long edge and used them (again, along with some calico) to make another cover.

The technique I used for the third cushion cover was crochet. I used cotton shop twine from Bunnings to make a massive granny square. Fashioned a calico cover (front and back) and then stitched the granny square to the front – voila! The trio of cushions look fab on our new couch and I’m much more comfortable (both literally and figuratively). I may whip up another simple cover using the calico and the suede – stay tuned!

I’m going to be a little cheeky and class this as two projects as I used two distinct skills: weaving and crocheting.

Twenty-Two: No Poo

 If you looked at these two photos and came to the assumption I would be writing about a cake I made, you’re mistaken. I did not bake with these two items, rather I made dry shampoo!

Washing my hair is at the top of my annoyances list (along with sultanas in curry) so if I can prolong this task, I will. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the feeling of clean hair. It’s the arduous task of getting to the clean, dry hair that gives me the irrites. If a genie jumped out of a lantern and granted me a wish, I wouldn’t be asking for a packet of Tim Tams that never ran out. Instead, I’d wish to have clean, silky, glistening hair until the end of my days without washing.

So unless I go down the no poo route (I kind of regret typing that), having methods to draw out the time between washes it is. In my quest to be more au natural (in relation to toxins, not clothing) making my own dry shampoo seemed like a good idea.

Ages ago, my bestie sent me a link to a recipe from Wellness Mama. The recipe has three ingredients which you combine together; arrowroot flour, cacao powder and essential oils. As the photos above demonstrate, I deemed the oils not essential and just mixed together the flour and cacao. I popped the sham in a small mineral make up jar I had. The jar has a few holes in the top so I can easily shake it upon my scalp and rub/brush it in.

I’ve found that this mixture seems to work really well for me and have used it for a number of months. My measures of success are: 1) I can go one day less without washing my hair and 2) I smell of cacao.

 

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