Thursday, April 30, 2009


One of my new favorite bloggers, Audrey of Audrey's Country Crafts, just gave me this lovely award! So I wanted to share the love with some of my favorite blogs out there.

About the award:
"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbon of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more atteniton to these writers. Deliver this award to eight blogers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

So here are my picks. These are wonderful blogs and friendly people. :)

Tamara's Herbes
The Redhead's Homestead
The Frugal Vegan
Threads of Magique
Lenox Knits
Success Bound
The Frugal Housewife
Unique Charm

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Princess Heidi
in costume made by Howlin' Hounds
(Wordless Wednesday)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Featured Shop: le Beau Papillon

Today's featured Etsy artist is Jillian from le Beau Papillon. I just can't say enough about this shop! The pieces are elegant and simple and the prices are affordable even in hard times such as these. Jillian is friendly and approachable and welcomes custom orders.

My favorite earrings in her shop is this gorgeous pair of Colette earrings made from vintage beads.

Jillian shared a little with me about herself and her art. And she has a special deal for my readers!
My name is Jillian Mackowiak, and I'm absolutely in love with beads and making jewelry. At almost anytime of the day or night you can find me on Etsy searching through all the jewelry supplies for sale. If I'm not browsing through Etsy I'm working on my jewelry. I try and list new items daily, but if not daily I definitely get a lot up on the weekends. i hope that you can find something that you like. If there is something that you have in mind that I don't have posted, I love doing custom orders so just send me a convo!!
Etsy shop:

Special deal for Dragon's Den readers:
Anyone who mentions this blog in the message to seller box will be refunded 10% of the cost through PayPal!

I've put together a selection of Jillian's items to make this Spotlight through This is just a few of the items. Go to this Spotlight on to see the full selection and leave a comment.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My First Garden: Planting!

Well here it is! The plot is hand-dug and about 10x20 feet. I decided to go for wide beds that would hold two rows of most of my veggies. (If this plan doesn't work this year I can try something different next year.) Then I used leaves as a mulch between beds and around the border. I'm expecting to have some issues with grass coming up in my garden so I wanted to at least keep the border and paths free of it.

I didn't add any compost or fertilizer or extra topsoil. But the earth in this area has been mostly covered by leaves for about two years. So I'm taking a chance that it's rich enough to give me a good season of growing. I'm planning on starting composting bin but it's a little further down on the To Do list.

I planted two rows of snow peas in one of the beds and two rows of carrots in another. I'm also planning tomatoes and peppers. The tomatoes I started inside are coming along nicely but I don't think they're sturdy enough for planting yet. Of all the peppers I started inside only two are coming up. I may have to break down and buy seedlings.

I'll keep you all posted about how things grow (or don't grow). You get to share in my triumph and disappointments!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Happy Birthday, Mom.
I miss you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Featured Shop: Bags by Melanie

At Bags by Melanie you'll find a wonderful selection of bags, purses, and key fobs. There are lots of colors and styles to choose from and prices to suit anyone's budget.

It was tough choosing a favorite but I finally decided on this bag called Charm.

Melanie talked with me a little about herself and her art:
"My name is Melanie and I am a stay at home mom of three children, two boys (11 and 3) and a girl (1 1/2). I started my stay at home business of making bags and accessories three years ago this August.

"I make and design my own patterns, because of this each bag is slightly different from the one before it. I let the fabric tell me what it wants to be. Just because I have a piece of fabric doesn't necessarily mean that it belongs made into a tote bag. My brain is always full of ideas, some good some not so good, but they are always floating around. I only make one this at a time to make sure I am giving each piece the attention it deserves."
I've put together a sampling of items by Bags by Melanie to create this Spotlight on Please feel free to go to this Spotlight to see the whole selection and leave a comment.

Monday, April 20, 2009

BOGO Special This Week!

This week only (April 20th to 27th) buy ANY ITEM at full price and get a second item for 1/2 PRICE! The second item must be of equal or lesser value.

Put the code "BOGO" in the message to seller box. Wait for me to send you a revised invoice by PayPal before paying.

For any new readers not familiar with my shop, I have a great selection of handmade candles and bath and beauty items. And I have many vegan items!

I don't do full-store sales very often, so don't miss this!

Dragon's Den

Buy Handmade

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shop Feature: Lucky Stars Origami

Lucky Stars Origami
is a great Etsy shop filled with unique handmade jewelry at great prices. The bright and colorful designs are perfect for spring. These origami flower earrings are my favorite item in her shop:

Here's a little about how she got started making origami jewelry:
"I started doing origami because of a boyfriend I had in high school. He was really into it. We even went to the origami convention in New York a couple of times. After we broke up, I stopped for a little while and I've just recently started up again. I saw these spirals and I thought they would be perfect for earrings! Then I decided to try stars... and it's snowballed from there!"
I've put together a sampling of Lucky Star Origami items to create this Spotlight on Please feel free to go to this spotlight to see the whole selection and to leave a comment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Newest Soap: Green Tea with Lemon

My Green Tea with Lemon soap is back by popular demand. I tend to switch between making new soaps and old favorites to keep as much variety in my shop as possible.

This is a wonderful smelling, all natural, vegetable soap made with green tea leaves and essential oil blend. The bars are at least 5 oz each.

The combination of green tea and lemon make this a wonderful soap in so many ways. It’s perfect for your morning shower as the lemon scent refreshes and wakes you up. The green tea leaves also provide a gentle exfoliation. As with all my soaps, this has a luxurious lather and leaves you feeling clean and soft.

I use the hot processed method to make this soap. It’s made from olive oil, palm kernel oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, water, lye, sweet almond oil, grapefruit seed extract, lemon and lemongrass essential oils, and green tea leaves.

I also have samples of this soap available. Click here for details.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Get the Most From Your Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles are a great natural alternative to those who prefer not to burn paraffin wax. Beeswax has an attractive color and rich natural scent. Beeswax also has a high melt point, making the candles last a long time. These things are all generally well known, and beeswax candles are quite popular.

Many people don't realize, however, that beeswax candles need a little more work and attention than other types of candles. Here's a list of things to keep in mind when you're burning beeswax candles of any size. These tips will help you get the most out of your beeswax.
  • It's important to keep the wick trimmed to 1/4 inch. If the flame becomes small and looks like it might go out, it's time to trim the wick.
  • Burn your candle for an extended period of time. This increases the size of the melt pool to ensure your candle burns right to the edge. For tea lights burn them at least 1 hour each time, for votives at least 2 hours, and burn your pillar at least 3 hours each time.
  • Pillars will not melt all the way to the edge. Over time, fold the wax from the sides toward the center.
  • Do not blow out your candle. Snuff the candle or extinguish the wick by dipping it in the melted wax. Then be sure to straighten it again. I use a skewer to do this.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Craft it Forward

Yesterday I was visiting Audrey's Country Crafts blog and she has this wonderful thing going on right now. It's a crafty PIF (pay it forward) where she's giving away 5 handmade items to the first 5 people who comment. I decided I'd take her up on this fun project!

Each of the 5 people who comment then just craft it forward. If you like creating and giving as much as receiving then you'll love this!

Here are the rules:

The first five people to respond to this will get something handmade by me.
There are some restrictions, though:

~I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
*What I create will be just for you.
~You’ll receive it this year (2009).
*You have no clue what it’s going to be. It could be ANYTHING handmade!
~And in return, all you need to do is post this text into your blog and make 5 things for 5 people.

Respond in the comments section… first 5 people win!

So leave a comment and get crafting! In your comment please include a way for me to reach you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crafty Projects: Crocheted Purse/Backpack

Just a few months ago I took up crocheting. I find it relaxing and fun! I've been working on pretty simple projects so far. This has been my most ambitious project. It's a drawstring style purse/backpack made from cotton yarn.

I made it because I've been wanting a small, light bag that I could use to hold things like a pair of flip flops and bottle of water. And I wanted it to be a backpack style because when I'm on an extended walk or hike I hate having a bag that smacks against my hip.

Sorry I can't pass along the pattern because I'm still not even very good at *reading* patterns, let alone writing one. To tell you the truth I wouldn't even be able to even describe the stitch I used for most of the bag. I started out trying to do a double crochet but I knew I was getting it wrong. But then I liked how it looked so I kept doing it wrong! :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

My 1st Garden: Helpers!

Yesterday I did some more yard work to get rid of the piles of leaves. I had my faithful helper Heidi there with me. :) But she's usually ready to go back in before I am.

I'm still a long way from being ready to plant though. These lovely daffodils are right in the middle of the space I want to use. I'm planning on transplanting them off to the side. The digging of the garden itself is still a few days away at least depending on weather and availability of helpers.

Some of the seeds I started inside are looking pretty good. Only the tomato plants are coming up so far. I did two seeds to each "pot" and I'm sure that was a mistake. I was just worried they wouldn't all take. So I guess I'll be doing some thinning out soon. I also have green peppers and hot peppers, but nothing is showing for them yet.

That's it for this update. Hopefully soon I'll have more to share!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Buying Handmade FAQ: Shampoo Bars

Shampoo in a bar?

Many people haven't heard of bar soaps that can also be used as shampoo. Before I started making soap I hadn't either. Now bar shampoo is all I use. With handmade shampoo bars you can have a totally natural product that's great for your hair. It's a good option to keep in mind when shopping for shampoo. We're not stuck with always using liquid!

Why buy handmade?
Many commercial shampoos have levels of toxicity and/or contain certain chemicals that can be harmful over time. Go to Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database to check the safety of the products you use. While not all handmade shampoo bars are completely natural (some have chemical fragrances or color), in my opinion they are safer options than many commercial products.

How do you use it?
To use a shampoo bar make sure your hair and the bar are wet and then rub the bar onto your head until you build up a good lather. Then spread around the lather and work it into your hair and scalp. Then rinse. Trust me, this works even with long hair. Some people (like myself) use conditioner after shampooing. Some also find it helpful to use a special rinse a couple times a week to get rid of any build up. You can buy special hair rinses or make them yourself. If you buy them, I would recommend Tamara's Herbes. I don't find any build-up with my shampoo bars, but this is something that occurs with some handmade shampoo products.

What's the difference between a bar of soap and a shampoo bar?
Any handmade soap can be used as a shampoo bar. But the type of soap will make your results differ greatly. Also, I wouldn't go with a handmade bar that has extra additives meant for exfoliation. I wouldn't want bits of oatmeal or cinnamon in my hair! A good shampoo bar will have ample lather, and will contain oils and other ingredients that are known for being especially good for hair. There are several of these ingredients. The ones I currently use are castor oil, olive oil, and hemp oil. But these are just a few of the ones out there. Do your research! If there's a bar you're considering buying, check out the ingredients to find out their properties.

What about handmade liquid shampoo? What's the difference?
Handmade liquid shampoo is also a good natural shampoo option. Liquid and bar shampoos perform differently though, and in the end it comes down to personal preference. Handmade liquid shampoo will have natural hair-healthy oils and additives. But it generally doesn't lather very well, and has a tendency to leave more residue than bar shampoo. The reason the storebought liquid shampoo lathers so well is because it's not actually "soap". It's a detergent and while not necessarily harmful, many people prefer handmade because it's more natural. There are liquid shampoo bases available that some crafters will use as a base and add extra scents and additives. These liquid shampoos will have more lather and leave less residue but will have extra chemicals.

Any other Questions?
Just leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer them!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Featured Shop: Crochet by Kerri

I recently got one of these great handmade coffee cozies (coozie) from Kerri at Crochet by Kerri. It's well made and a beautiful lime green color. The picture does not do it justice!

Crochet by Kerri has a great selection of crocheted cozies, scarves, and blankets. The colors are great and the prices are affordable! Be sure to also check out her blog at

I've put together a sampling of her items to create this Spotlight on Please feel free to go to this spotlight to see the whole selection and to leave a comment.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crafty Secret Santa ... In March

I recently got involved in a Crafty Secret Santa/PIF (pay it forward) that was organized by Paul over at Dude Craft.

Here's the scoop - there were 20 participants and we all gave Paul some info about ourselves. He then sent each participant the info for one person. We then all made something crafty for whatever person we were given, based on the info they gave Paul.

Sound complicated? Well it really wasn't. It was great fun!

What I made

Part of the info I was given was my person loved "curling up with a good book and a cup of tea on a rainy evening". That was my inspiration for the scent of this chunk candle. I was also trying to capture a little of the look of a random pattern of rain on a window. I love the Rain scent too it was definitely a pleasure to fill the house with it for a day. Also, I don't often make chunk candles so it was a little change of pace for me.

What I got

The person who made something for me was inspired by my love of crafts, earthy colors, and my love of all things recycled/upcycled. This is a very cute wall hanging that has its permanent home on my craft room wall. The embroidery says CRAFT LOVE and there is a shadow puppet bunny as well.

Now the fun isn't over yet! Paul has been featuring these projects over at Dude Craft so we can all check out what everyone made. Go take a look! Follow the blog while you're there. He's always got great crafty posts!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shop Feature: Rhi's Bits and Beads

Rhi of Rhi's Bits and Beads makes beautiful jewelry at affordable prices. And she also has a great selection of jewelry supplies. There are some breathtaking stones in her collection!

Rhi has taken the time to write to me about her shop and her art.
I'm a rock hound, gem collector, and bead addict who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. My passion for rocks and gems naturally led me to the creation of jewelry, and I've been creating off and on for the past 15 years.

My favorite materials to work with are Pearls and natural stones that are created by Mother Earth.

I'm hoping to soon be able to take some metal smithing classes, so I can incorporate pieces from my gem collection into jewelry.
I've put together a sampling of her items to create this Spotlight on Please feel free to go to this spotlight to see the whole selection and to leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

My mom and her mom.
(Wordless Wednesday)