To see how Chayton and I made these sweet Valentine’s Day cards, just visit the bellybabechild site!
I had a few personal items to send and wanted to make a simple card to tuck into the letters. Erin stopped by last weekend and as usual, while our minds were engaged with catching up on each other’s lives, our hands were busy crafting. Unfortunately, Erin had to leave in a hurry -finishing her project just in time, and I did not get a final shot of the sweet little barnyard card that she had made! So sadly, it isn’t included in this post.
My card, as usual, was super simple. I really love bees and spring makes me think of the earliest wildflowers and the busy bees that play such a vital role in pollenating them. With all of the time I spend outdoors all spring, summer and fall, I always seem to be within a few feet of a bee or two; their industrious buzzing adding to the vibrant soundscape of gentle wind, playful squirrels and birdsong. All of the stamps and paper I used for this project are from Stampin’ Up.
I started with the yellow card, and stamped it with this huge sunflower stamp using an ink that was just slightly darker than the card for a ‘barely there’ effect.
Next, I stamped small squares of white paper (I just eye-balled the size) with Stampin’ Up’s huge French Script stamp in a pale green dye ink. Then stamped the bee over this in black pigment ink. I embossed this with black embossing powder to make it shiny and stand out. Then I backed the white square with green card stock to provide a border and adhered this to the card using thick mounting tape.
As I was in between knitting projects, I decided to tackle a short but highly practical task: a cotton dish cloth. I had some leftover organic cotton and a particular design in mind. I was delighted when I found the particular pattern on Catie’s wonderful blog: delightfullysimple.blogspot.ca. Catie and I share a love of simple, sustainable living and she has so many creative ideas to share. I am so happy to have found her and to promote her here on cabinorganic!
This was a nice, easy pattern- perfect for beginners like myself. Because it takes no time at all to finish one dish cloth, it is a rewarding project. After just a few relaxing sessions of knitting, you will have this beautiful, practical and absorbent dishcloth ready for use in your kitchen. Also, because this is a small project, it is very easy to take along with you in your carry-all bag. I admit that mine looks a bit rough but I am being patient with myself, after all this was only my first one! I am sure my fifth and sixth ones will look much more professional. In the meantime, looks aside, this dish cloth is by far the best dish cloth in my kitchen as far as performance goes! And I have to admit that there is something so satisfying about being self sufficient and taking pride in a useful project.
I will now get back to my current knitted project- the black stole… If you would like the pattern for this dish cloth, please visit Catie’s blog and while you’re there, take a look at some of her other clever ideas. All the best!
Click here for the link to Catie’s dish cloth pattern.
I have kept a journal for most of my life and have found it of great benefit in clarifying my thoughts and articulating my dreams and goals as they have emerged and evolved over the years. In my teenage years, I chose pretty blank journals and used a fountain pen with various colors of ink, loving the way the ink flowed from pen to paper in elegant lines and arches. For the last decade, I made the switch to mechanical pencil with a fine .5 mm tip. I am very picky about my writing tools: the pencil must be comfortable enough to hold for long periods of writing, the journal must feel good in the hand, lie open nicely, and have high quality pages.
As a writer, I also had an inclination toward meditation and reclusiveness, and so have maintained for most of my life a decent balance. ~Francis Mayes, Bella Tuscany
There is something very therapeutic about writing long-hand, even more so, I find, than typing on a computer. Some writers write all of their novels, poems or plays long-hand in spiral notebooks or on yellow legal pads. They say it has something to do with how writing by hand slows the mind processes down enough to fully capture the richness of their thoughts. Whatever it does, journaling and writing by hand has always helped me ‘go deep’ within myself. It also keeps me honest and allows me to be my own best friend as I can vent and complain and giggle and whisper and dream silently into the pages of my journals. The insights that come to me, often unexpectedly, as I write turns the monologue into an interesting and lively dialogue, with burning questions answered and endless more curiosities opened up.
We must be free to follow our muse, and often that means what amuses us… Carl Jung has remarked that creativity is the imagination at play with the things that it loves… ~Julia Cameron
This is my creativity journal. It is unique in that it features the thoughts, ideas and images produced by others. I used to collect photos, postcards, cut-outs from magazines and newspapers and brochures; just anything that caught my attention. For many years, I kept these visual treasures in a small box until the box became too full to hold anymore. Instead of hiding them away any longer, I thought it would be a great idea to put all of these images into a journal so that I could have easier access to them and enjoy them more regularly. I started by choosing a sturdy blank journal.
I spread out all of the pictures and grouped them intuitively, not by theme or content, but by color and texture. (This was about eight years ago.) Then I took each grouping and arranged them in my journal, using double-sided tape to hold them in place. There was still some blank spaces on each page and I decided that I would use the space to record some of my favorite quotes. I normally underline favorite passages in the books I read but every once in a while I would come across an incredibly juicy, startling or brilliant phrase that I just had to record somewhere safe so that I would never lose it.
The storm came up out of the southwest like a fiend, stalking its prey on legs of lightening. ~Clive Barker, Abarat
It took another six years of slowly gathering more images and filling the empty spaces with inspiring words, interesting stickers and vintage rubber stamp images, until one day, the journal was full and could not hold anything more.
The passages are written in different colored inks, pencil crayon, calligraphy inks, even watercolor paint. Everything was done intuitively, from the arrangement of the images, to the placement of the quotes, to the color and size of the hand-writing. I once heard an artist explain that this type of intuitive creative expression is a mirror of our subconscious. I like to think that if someone took a walk inside my mind, that this is exactly what they would find. A gallery of ideas, colors and words…
Make thy books thy companions. Let thy cases and shelves be thy pleasure ground and gardens. ~Judah ibn-Tibbon
When I first started writing poetry, I kept what I call an ‘image bank’; a photo album I stuffed with museum post cards of paintings, photos, typed lists of words I liked, anything that struck me as co-related with the writing process… Traveling, I’m especially aware of storing what I experience and see. ~Francis Mayes, Bella Tuscany
I used to pack this journal along with me on trips and I would read it, cover to cover, like a novel. Now, the binding is getting old and the cover quite frayed, so I keep in it a drawer next to my bed and sometimes enjoy the last quiet moments of my evening enjoying the creativity journal. Many ideas for projects have come out of this ongoing process…
Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. But a few do not. JOIN THEM. ~Arthur Shopenhauer & R. Sharma
When you meet a person who has inner authentic presence, you find he (she) has an overwhelming genuineness, which might be somewhat frightening because it is so true and honest and real. You experience a sense of command radiating from the person of inner authentic presence. This is not just charisma. The person with inner authentic presence has worked on himself (herself) and made a thorough and proper journey. He (she) has earned authentic presence by letting go, and by giving up personal comfort and fixed mind. ~Chogyan Trungpa Rinpoche
I dreamed a limitless book, a book unbound, its leaves scattered in fantastic abundance. On every line there was a new horizon drawn, new heavens supposed; new states, new souls. One of these souls, dazing through some imagined afternoon, dreamed these words. and needing a hand to set them down, made mine. ~Clive Barker, Abarat
… if you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors for you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. ~Joseph Campbell
Chamdi and Guddi wait for the carriage to pass and then they both run behind it. There is a hutch in the back, small enough for them to fit in, and Guddii gets on and sits down. She faces him now and stretches her arms out for him, and Chamdi tells himself that he does not want to get on that carriage, no, he will spend his entire life running behind this girl because the moment he steps into the carriage her arms will no longer be outstretched. No one has ever done this for him, stretched out their arms, although he has dreamed of this moment many times, but in his dreams it has been his mother and father coming to the orphanage as he runs into their arms. He has never pictured a girl his own age with brown hair and yellow teeth, but this is better, so much better. He does not realize that the carriage is moving farther and farther away from him, and he does not care. All he wants is to carry this image in his brain for the rest of his life. ~Anosh Ikani, The Son of Kahunsha
This creativity journal, which took years to fill up, is deeply personal and filled-to-overflowing with images and words that inspire and delight me. When asked, “If your home was ever on fire and you could only take one thing, one object, what would it be?” My answer is always the same with no hesitation: my creativity journal. This collection is invaluable to me.
As you may have guessed, I have already started on a second creativity journal. I always seem to pick up treasures as I go about my day. Sometimes they are smooth stones, bits of drift wood or feathers… Sometimes they are experiences, such as a fleeting glance of a silver fox in the light of a full moon… And sometimes they are in the form of a thought-provoking image or a snatch of delicious poetry. Capturing these in a creativity journal allows me to spend time savoring them again and again, to grow old with these thoughts and ideas, and to respond to them with my own creative expressions by seeing what emerges from this ever-evolving, playful process.
We all have to do our own interior work. It’s our highest responsibility. To examine yourself and get to know the real you- your true self- and all you are as a human being is the central aim of life. To know more about yourself so you can be more for the world is the ultimate journey. Genuine success in life is an inside job. ~R. Sharma
Remember that scarf I knitted for my friend, B a few months ago? I really loved how it turned out and decided to knit something simple for myself out of the same yarn. I decided on a stole- not quite a shawl but more like a very wide scarf that you wear as a wrap over your shoulders.
Over Christmas holidays I went sledding two days in a row with my favorite lake family. On the second day, we spent four fun-filled hours vigorously sledding through Battle River territory, through a beautiful canyon and up what we call “Battle Mountain”. When we reach the top of the mountain and were taking a break to enjoy the view, one of the men started talking about the cache that was hidden there. I had no idea what a cache was, so one of the girls crawled under a large spruce tree and came out with a metal box, looking a hundred years old and painted in ‘camo’ colors. Apparently geocaching is a very popular sport among people who love treasure hunts and who regularly travel through wilderness areas around the globe via sleds, quads, jeeps, skis, horseback, by foot, etc. One is given the geographic coordinates of the cache and then must use all of their orientation skills (and/or a good GPS) to find the hidden cache. Once you find the cache, you can open it and can take anything out of it as long as you leave something of equal or greater value. (Our cache had a few hot wheel cars still in the packaging and a cigarette in a ziplock bag.) Of course the main reward is the satisfaction of the finding.
I loved the idea of a cache hidden away with treasures stored within… I had already begun Christmas shopping for little gifts for Mitch and Erin, mainly for practical things that they can use at their fort. I decided to create a cache tin for each of them to hide at the fort. That way they can store their treasures and supplies in a way that is safe from weather and animals, and is easily hidden.
I started with a brand new, empty paint can. You can buy these in a variety of sizes at your local hardware store for under $5 in the paint section. I also bought 3 different colors of ‘camo’ Tremclad (for metal) spray paint. I began with a few coats of the light green.
I like making a piece of string into something I can wear. ~Author Unknown
My grandmother patiently taught me to knit when I was 10 years old. I never finished that first project and after my grandmother passed on two years later there was no one else in my life that knitted. Years later, I tried crocheting and did manage to finish one afghan while living up in Inuvik, NT. I loved the hours of sitting quietly, with yarn and needle hook in hand and my thoughts free to wander… Just a few months ago, I become inspired by a few friends to begin knitting once more. I was impressed at how my hands remembered the stitches even after all of these years. Pictured below is a scarf that I knitted last month with organic cotton yarn. I haven’t cast off yet (or added fringe to the ends) as I am trying to decide if I will finish it (and either wear it or give it away) or if I will unravel it and make something new.
Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again. ~Dorothy Day
A knitter only appears to be knitting yarn. Also being knitted are winks, mischief, sighs, fragrant possibilities, wild dreams. ~Dr. SunWolf
Below is my new project. It is another small project- great for beginners- another scarf, this time for a friend of mine. I chose a simple pattern as the yarn is quite fuzzy and adds a lot of texture on its own.
Apart from yoga, meditation, reading, it has to be one of the most serene things to do… ~Carole Berman and Jennifer Lazarus, about needlepoint
Knitting is a boon for those of us who are easily bored. I take my knitting everywhere to take the edge off of moments that would otherwise drive me stark raving mad. ~Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
I love knitting! I love those quiet and deeply relaxing moments where I knit just a row or two before moving to another task. Or better yet, those long afternoons where I can sit by the fire and knit for a few good hours. I carry a large purse and always have a book with me wherever I go. Now I carry a book and my knitting…
Everybody tells me that they would love to knit, but they don’t have time. I look at people’s lives and I can see opportunity and time for knitting all over the place. The time spent riding the bus each day? That’s a pair of socks over a month. Waiting in line? Mittens. Watching TV? Buckets of wasted time that could be an exquisite lace shawl. ~Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
Knitting is equally enjoyable with a friend or group of friends. Yesterday, E came over to the cabin and we knitted by the fire for a few hours while catching up on each other’s busy lives. She is also a beginner knitter and we are learning together. She is working on a scarf for herself and chose a funky deep purple yarn with sparkles woven in, which perfectly matches her winter jacket. We had a good laugh about her school friend’s comments about E taking an “early retirement” with her grandmotherly hobby (she is 11 years old). But soon we will show them how “cool” knitting is, especially when we are able to wear our new creations.
All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle. ~Ellen Birdseye Wheaton, 1851
I have always loved making things with my hands… quilts, crafts, gifts and now knitted projects. I am looking forward to knitting my first sweater soon and love that I can pick exactly the yarn and pattern and size I want. With the winter slowly arriving, it is nice to have new indoor projects to keep me busy and learning!
I am looking around for a few good books with easy patterns for us. In particular, I have seen some that have funky patterns for children and teenagers (for E). If you happen to know of any great knitting books, blogs or websites, please feel free to write in and recommend them! In the meantime, I’ll be here… knitting…
There is no right way to knit; there is no wrong way to knit. So if anybody kindly tells you that what you are doing is “wrong,” don’t take umbrage; they mean well. Smile submissively, and listen, keeping your disagreement on an entirely mental level. They may be right, in this particular case, and even if not, they may drop off pieces of information which will come in very handy if you file them away carefully in your brain for future reference. ~Elizabeth Zimmerman
Another great recipe shared by my wonderful sister-in-law, Laurie. During my last visit we were chatting about homemade deodorants and she let me sample some of hers. It is so simple to make and more effective than the crystal I had been using, where I often had to reapply during the day. This deodorant is powerful, even on my days of heavy perspiration (large garden, moving wheel barrels of heavy dirt, hauling lumber for the raised beds…) it passed the test! I was able to sweat freely and naturally without a strong body odor. Instead, I enjoyed the delicate scent of coconut wafting from underneath my otherwise grimy arms. I bought the coconut oil (solid at room temperature) at Earth’s General Store in Edmonton but I have also seen it for sale at various Health Food Stores. Oh- and Laurie found the recipe on the Passionate Homemaking blog and there is even a video demonstration on how to make it.
Homemade Natural Deodorant
6-8 Tablespoons coconut oil (solid state)
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (arrowroot is preferred)
Combine the baking soda & arrowroot powder. Add the coconut oil a few tablespoons at a time and work it in with a spoon or hand blender until it maintains a firm but pliable and ‘easy to spread’ consistency. If the mixture becomes too wet, add a bit more arrowroot powder/ or cornstarch to thicken.
Place the mixture in a small container with lid and apply with fingers (you don’t need much!).
Yield: about half a cup
A great handmade gift idea or stocking stuffer for friends and loved ones.
Another great craft to share with you all! These tiny birdhouses are quaint, gorgeous and totally customized!
We began this project with these tiny little wooden birdhouses that I found at Michael’s craft store for $1.50 each, a few months ago. As they were very pale we decided to do a paint ‘wash’ by simply painting them with watered-down watercolor paint and also dipping the bright string in the dirty water so that the entire house would look old and weathered.
A few weeks later, E and I went out into the woods with baskets and gloves and gathered twigs, pine cones, bark, moss, lichen, leaves, dried flowers and large sticks. We put the baskets in the craft room to dry out for the next few weeks until their next visit.
Two weeks later, M and E came over and we began decorating the tiny bird houses with the gathered material. We used pruning shears and scissors (or our fingers) to cut things to size and wood glue to stick the natural material onto the houses.
Here’s E’s birdhouse in progress…
And here are the finished products: our little birdhouse village! M and E left theirs here to dry out completely until their next visit when they’ll take them home. I am so pleased with how these turned out! Not only did we each have a very cool birdhouse at the end of the project, but we had a fun time together chatting, wandering the woods and sharing great ideas. I haven’t decided where I’m going to put mine yet, but I think I’m already ready to make another one!
On Good Friday I received a phone call from my good friend, E. She had an Easter craft and could the kids come over to make it with me? E, J arrived first and the three of us followed E along as she modeled how to make pom poms. Later the boys, M and M arrived. We had a great afternoon, chatting, getting caught up on each other’s lives while we did our craft. By the end of our time together we each had a bunny and a chick to take along with us.
Once the template is about three quarters of the way covered in yarn you cut through the edge and tie another length of yarn around it to secure it. Click here for a video demonstration that I found on youtube if you’d like to make your own.
Spending time with friends and family this weekend was the perfect way to celebrate the Easter weekend!