Category Archives: DIY

How To Get Rid of Flies

I’m guessing some of you read that post title and are now thinking “what the hell.”

I know, it’s weird. Let me explain.

This morning I walked into the living room and was greeted by about 15 flies hovering around the patio doors. Now, before you get all judgy and tell me you never get flies….you’re not normal. You either clean every single day, or hire someone to do it for you. Those of us who are normal, and who have “clean enough” houses and a tendency to open doors….we get flies. Shrug.

So anyway, this morning I had my own personal fly army. We’ve been dealing with them for a few days, so I grabbed the fly swatter and went to town. After about 3 minutes of frantically jumping and swatting and cursing, I realized I was venturing into serial killer territory and that’s not the kind of person I want to be. So I did what any rational person would do…I got on Google.

There are about 900 different ways to kill flies, believe it or not.

The more I read, the more I realized I didn’t really want little fly bodies all over the place, and despite his begging, I’m not ready to let Jimmie buy one of those horrific bug zappers. I was fairly certain that the flies weren’t a result of leaving food out or anything like that – at least not directly. (We did have a situation last week with the trash can, but that’s been remedied.) I didn’t want to leave the house, so I was looking for an easy (read, lazy) solution…which meant I was still looking at a death trap of some sort involving apple cider vinegar. Then I stumbled on lavender oil.

You might remember a few months ago I reviewed a couple of essential oils. At the time, I really had no clue what to use the lavender for, but I’m slowly finding ways. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and while I’m not going to turn into one of those “oil-crazy people,” I like using them. They’re natural, and they’re easy.

The internet said that flies like sunlight, which explains the congregation on my patio doors. The internet also said that flies hate lavender oil and will stay away from it. So…I got to thinking.

What if I get them all outside, then put oil on the door so they have no interest in coming back???

Friends, that’s exactly what I did, only in reverse order. I put the oil on the door FIRST, then shooed them all outside. Believe it or not, those little guys were begging to get out of the house. Within 5 minutes my house was a fly-free zone. And it’s stayed that way.

All I did was put lavender on the outside of the patio doors, the inside of the door jam, and along the threshold. Then opened up the blinds so they’d “see the light,” waited until I had a good number of takers, and opened the patio door. I didn’t even have to use the fly swatter, as most of them were all too happy to oblige. I did the open door thing 3 or 4 more times, and that’s all it took.

Then I put some lavender oil in one of those diffuser bottles with sticks. The house smells, but we’re officially a no-fly zone. (giggle)

And the best part? I don’t have to deal with fly bodies, and they’re all free to go pollinate the outdoors.

Coffee Sugar Scrub

Coffee Sugar ScrubIt’s been a little while since we’ve had a DIY, hasn’t it?

My mom’s birthday is coming up, as is Mother’s Day. I knew I wanted to make her something instead of buying a random gift, and I knew I wanted to give her something that would make her feel special without breaking the bank. I also waited until sort of the last minute, so knew I needed to do something relatively simple.

I know a lot of people think homemade gifts are cheap. And they are, usually, though not always. But I think they get a bad rap – I think people look on homemade gifts less favorably because so many people think that a gift is only worth how much money you spent on it.

I think those people are stupid.

Thankfully, so does my mother.

To me, a homemade gift shows that you took the time to think about something the recipient would actually like. And you put effort into making it. You may not have spent much money, but you spent TIME….and time is far more precious than money. And besides, doesn’t it just feel so nice to have something made just for you?

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I find the absolute *perfect* gift for someone. When I do, I buy it. Buying isn’t all bad. But enough of that soapbox. Back to mom.

I knew I wanted pampering. I knew I wanted simple. I knew I wanted yummy smelling and feeling. And then I thought….COFFEE SUGAR SCRUB.

My mom loves the smell of coffee, though she can’t stand drinking it. Lucky for her, I do not share her affliction. I’ve been saving my coffee grounds for a while now….usually I just dump them in the rose bushes. Roses like coffee. But I’ve also had an idea brewing (hehe) in the back of my mind for a while to make a beauty product with those old grounds. And if we’re being honest, since I’ve started recycling I’m all about getting everything I can out of stuff.

There are tons of things you can use coffee grounds for, so if you’re a drinker and a DIYer, start saving them. I’ve read a few different things about the best way to save grounds. Honestly, I just keep them in a plastic container on the counter. The Internet will tell you this will make them mold, but mine never do – probably because I don’t put the lid on the container. Why nobody else has ever thought to do this is beyond me.

That said, I did decide to bake my coffee grounds for the sugar scrub, simply because I didn’t want to take a chance on them molding. I just tossed them on some aluminum foil on a baking sheet and threw them in the oven for 30 minutes on 350. My house smelled like coffee. Pretty amazing.

Baking Coffee GroundsThen I made Coffee Sugar Scrub. It was super easy, and actually kind of fun. I used brown sugar since it’s a little softer than regular sugar. I also added some ground ginger because it reduces inflammation. For my oil I used the coconut oil I got from GoPure, but olive or almond oil would also work well I think.

Coffee Scrub Ingredients

Basically, this scrub is divine. It smells amazing, it’s easy, it cost me nothing (granted, I already had everything), and it feels like an expensive spa treatment. I’ll admit, I saved a little to use myself! My hands felt so smooth and soft after. Ginger and coffee are both antioxidants, so this scrub is extra good for your skin.

There’s no hard and fast recipe – I used a cup each of coffee grounds and brown sugar. I dumped in enough ginger that I could just barely smell it. And I added oil until I got the consistency I wanted, which was damp but not runny. I literally just mixed it all together with a spoon and put it in a jar.

A jar that I salvaged from our recycling bin, thank you. I think it used to house pickles. A little spray paint on the lid, a little soapy water soak to get the label off, and I have a brand new gift jar. I threw a few whole coffee beans on top for decoration.

Coffee Bean ToppingThen, I realized I needed a label or tag or something, because otherwise mom would just think I was giving her a jar of dirt. So I spent more time making a tag than I did on the scrub itself. But the nice part is, you can use this tag too. Just save the picture to your computer and print it out on some card stock. Or do what I did, and print it out on regular paper and glue it to some card stock.

CoffeeSugarScrubTagI took a piece of twine, threaded it through the tag, and there you have it. A great DIY gift for anyone who loves coffee.

I also made her a bath soak that I’ll be sharing next! Bring on the pampering!!

Garden Planning (and Toilet Paper Planters)

After spending a fortune last year on live plants, this year I figured I’d give it a try the old-fashioned way. I asked a gardener friend for a seed recommendation – seriously, do you have any idea how many companies are out there??? I gave up after about 20 minutes of looking, and just asked. She sent me over to Baker Creek, where all the seeds are heirloom and unmodified and everything else important. To be honest, I didn’t read about it too closely – the friend who sent me there is serious about avoiding anything GMO and supporting local, so I figured if it was good enough for her it was good enough for me. The bonus was that the seeds were super super cheap. And, since I only used a few in each packet, I should be set for the next few years.

When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful art on the packaging. Isn’t it awesome?

Baker Creek SeedsSide note – I know this is probably a terrible photo by blogging standards. I mean….you can’t read my garden plan. There’s a random piece of Home Depot junk mail, some pens in shadow, half of a moose mug, and the bottom corner of Zoe’s DNA test report. (Wait, WHAT? Oh yeah. That’s coming.)

Pshhh. I actually really like the photo, so I chose not to crop any of that stuff out. It’s real life. I admire the bloggers who have tons of free counter or table space, natural lighting, and excellent prop placement. I’m not them. Never will be, so we have random crap in photos.

Back to the seeds.

Baker Creek sent me a bonus seed packet. It’s cabbage, and while I definitely appreciate the freebie, I won’t be planting it this year. Maybe next year. Or maybe in the fall, actually, because I think cabbage does well in cooler weather. We’ll see.

Last year, we went way overboard with the plants. We had so many different things….and we ended up letting half of it go to waste. So we scaled back this year. I ordered bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, paste tomatoes, and yellow cherry tomatoes.

By the way, friends…..you were supposed to tell me that was a bad idea. Do you remember last year when I was up to my ears in cherry tomatoes, you all agreed to keep me away from them?

It’s ok. I have a freezer now. I’m going to be roasting and freezing those suckers. But I’m rambling again. (And I just realized I haven’t introduced you to my freezer. How rude of me.)

I also bought a couple of herbs, though I scaled back a little on those too. Last year I didn’t realize that you’re actually supposed to cut herbs back so they keep producing. Whoops. Mine bolted, or flowered, and withered and died. Or so I thought. I looked in my planter the other day, and low and behold, mighty cilantro is back. And something else that might be parsley or basil or dill or oregano. I’m not sure, because I mixed up my markers when I planted them, and I obviously didn’t use them much last year.

This year I ordered cilantro, basil, and parsley, so if I ever figure out what’s growing in my planter, I may or may not need them.

I was a little afraid I’d waited too long – I ordered my seeds in February. They came, and then they sat on my kitchen table for a good month. I decided to direct sow the squash, zucchini, and cucumbers, since the package said I could. That meant starting the two peppers and two tomatoes. Easy enough, right?

I’d seen on Pinterest that someone started seeds in toilet paper rolls….which I happened to have a bunch of, thanks to some other never-attempted-Pinterest-project. So I grabbed them, and Jimmie helped me fold them into little planter pots. Stuffed them with dirt, dropped a seed in, and there you go.

Seed StartingI liked the idea of using toilet paper rolls for a couple reasons. Number one, I had them, and they were essentially free. I mean, yeah, I’d paid for the Charmin, but come on. And while I recycle now, I liked the idea of reusing something that would otherwise be trash. I also thought they’d be incredibly convenient. My thinking was (and still is, I guess) that when the time comes to put them into the ground, I’ll just plant the whole tube and hopefully it’ll decompose. Maybe. I should probably look that up.

I started double what I hoped to have in the garden. That gave me 18 total plants: 6 jalapenos, 6 bell peppers, 3 cherry tomatoes, and 3 paste tomatoes.

Lucy supervised the entire project, by the way, from the one shady spot in the entire yard.

Lucy on the PorchAnd so began the long, arduous wait.  For life to appear. But appear it did.

I present to you….my first ever grown from seed real live plant.

New Tomato PlantIt’s a tomato, and it’s doing just fine. Since I took this, 7 of his brothers and sisters have joined him, so I now have 8 baby plants. I’m clearly going to be up to my ears in cherry tomatoes again, because all 3 plants have sprouted. I’ve got at least one of each plant I started, so I’m considering that a job well done. The spout rate has been sporadic, but I’m not giving up on the rest of them yet. Jimmie keeps making fun of me because every day I’m intently peering into the tray, willing the little guys to live.

And one of the best parts? Since I already had the toilet paper rolls and some leftover dirt from last year’s garden, my grand garden total came to $26. And next year’s garden will be virtually free, unless I decide to grow something else.

If you want to make your own toilet paper planters, just grab some scissors and make four short cuts in the end of one. Then fold the edges in, sorta like you would if you were closing a cardboard box. It’ll take a little trial and error, and most of them won’t stand up until you put the dirt in. Also, when you’re watering them, I’ve found it works better to just do a little water every day. That keeps the dirt damp, but prevents your toilet paper roll from molding. It also helps to separate them – in my picture above they’re all snug together, but after about two weeks I realized they needed to breathe. And of course, they’re in front of my patio door where they’ll get plenty of sun. If I’m home I’ll stick them out on the porch for the day to get the full sun.

Now the trick will be transferring them into the ground without killing them.

Did you start a garden this year? Have you ever used toilet paper planters? If so, have I just doomed my plants?

Spring Has Sprung!

Hello friends! Spring is finally here – in all its Springy Glory – and isn’t it wonderful? The warm weather, the flowers, the birds singing….so much better than winter. I figured it was about time to brighten up the house to go with the weather, and then I figured….why not brighten up the blog too?

I finally changed out my wreath (which has seen better days, frankly).

Spring WreathMy yard is covered in flowers….apparently we’ve had tulips for the last 3 years, but I never noticed them. I think they probably bloomed while I was on travel, because I refuse to believe I missed them 3 years in a row. They’re right in front of the front door.

TulipsOn the other side of the front door is Bert. He was absolutely an impulse buy at Hobby Lobby. He was 40% off, and I knew Jimmie would hate him (he does), so of course I had to buy him. And when I posted him on Instagram, two friends told me they had TWO garden owls. I feel behind.

Garden OwlWe’ve also got all these little purple and white flowers all over the yard. Our neighbor had more, and it made me so sad when he mowed his grass yesterday, because they’re all gone now. Anyone know what they are?

PurpleWhiteFlowersAnd in a last bit of decorating cheer, I swapped out the St. Patrick’s Day gear for spring stuff on the entry shelf. It’s probably a bit more summer than spring, but oh well.

Spring EntryThe fabric I bought from Joann’s with the intention of doing something cute – now I have no idea what, so it’s serving as a shelf cover. The flip flops are from the dollar store, as are the flowery things. And I got the tiny watering can from Goodwill. How adorable is it?

Since you can’t read the printable, here’s a closeup. I printed this a couple years ago from Tater Tots and Jello and it’s been a spring staple ever since.

Spring Printable CloseupFor my last little bit of spring cheer, I decided to try a floral manicure. I finally bought one of those dotting tools, and hadn’t used it yet. Julep has this really cute tutorial for a rose manicure. Mine didn’t quite turn out like theirs. In fact, mine looked like Christmas candy, but from far away….they could almost sorta be flowers.

Spring NailsRight? I’m purposefully NOT showing you the original.

I haven’t exactly been on a Spring Cleaning kick, but I have done a ton of laundry. We’re counting that as a win. On that note, does anyone else absolutely despise putting away laundry??? I don’t mind doing it, and I don’t even mind folding it, but man….putting it away is kind of where I draw the line.

Spring feels good, friends. 🙂

Knitted Bow Tie Collar Tutorial

This is a fun one.

Are you ready?

I present to you…..

KittyCat Bow Tie Collars

Sophie BowReally.

Actually, they don’t HAVE to be for kittycats. It just so happens that the first one I made was for my mom’s cat, though Zoe wore it too. (Yes, she’s getting her own.)

Zoe Red BowI found the idea on Pinterest (where else?) and made a few modifications. As my bestie calls me, I’m a “lazy but inventive” knitter. She’s absolutely right. If you don’t believe me, I routinely tie knots instead of weaving in my ends. Yup.

Anyway, I found inspiration on Pinterest, and simplified it. Even for me, this is a fairly quick project. The first one took me a while, but now I can make one in about an hour. All you need to know is garter stitch. You can easily make these to any size you want, so they can be cat collars, dog collars, baby headbands, or even bracelets. I’m currently working on a red and green one for Luka for our Tacky Sweater Party. You won’t want to miss that post.

This is a great beginner project since it’s garter stitch – awesome for practicing stitches, and it’s something besides coasters. And dishcloths. And a bow tie collar is nowhere near as intimidating as a scarf. And….these are much more fun to give as gifts. Everyone thinks they’re adorable, and everyone has a pet who just ABSOLUTELY-NEEDS-ONE. Trust me. When have I steered you wrong?

I used plain old Red Heart acrylic yarn for these bad boys. I don’t love this yarn – but I bought a bunch of it before I knew what nice yarn was. That said, it works well for the collars, and it’s cheap. If you buy 2 colors you’re looking at, what, $6? Think how many bow ties that could make. This is also a great project for using up yarn you don’t love…..

I used size 6 needles but it all depends on your yarn and the look you’re going for. Ready for the pattern?

Needles Size 6

Bow Tie Collar

This is knit in two pieces, the bow and the collar.

Bow: Cast on 10 stitches; Knit in garter stitch until approximately 3 inches long. Weave the tail ends in to the middle of the piece. Using the tail ends from cast on and bind off, wrap the center of the piece to create a bow. You’ll need to adjust this to get the “bow” shape. Tie the ends in a knot on the back side of your bow, and cut off excess.

Bow Ends

Bow Wrap

BowCollar: Cast on 40 stitches (this will give you a collar that’s approximately 9 inches long, adjust as needed); Knit 4 or 5 rows in garter stitch, or until desired width is reached. You can either seam the ends together for a banded collar or leave the ends unseamed and use the tails to tie the collar on.

Sew the bow to the collar. I use yarn, but you could use thread or embroidery floss too.

Neon BowWhat do you think of the 80s collar? There are so many possibilities with this one….one color, two colors, stripes, patterns….if you make one, please share your pictures! I’d love to see yours!!!

Oh, and Jimmie wanted me to name this post….”How to do things that will make people who know you feel embarrassed.” So be warned. This project *might* turn you into a crazy-knitting-cat/dog-lady.

Would that be so terrible?

Stockinette Wrist Warmers for Baby Knitters

In my Outlander Cowl post, I jokingly referred to myself as a Baby Knitter. The more I think about it, the more I like that phrase…I mean, I am. So I’m going to keep it for a while.

Any other Baby Knitters out there?

Wait…that sounds weird doesn’t it. Like I knit babies.

On second thought…..hmmm.

ANYWAY.

I feel like I’ve gotten garter stitch down pretty well. I can knit to my little heart’s content. Never mind that I’m slower than molasses….the point is, I’ve got a handful of coasters, a couple dishcloths, and of course my cowl to prove I’ve passed the garter stitch test.

Friday night seemed like a good time to try my hand at the purl stitch. Or, more accurately…stockinette stitch, where you knit one row, purl one row. I’d done it once before, but only got a few rows before I got frustrated with the curling edges and gave up.

I wasn’t feeling coasters or dishcloths, so to Ravelry I went, looking for a wrist warmer pattern. Found one, got to work, and promptly screwed it up because I wasn’t paying attention.

ARGH.

So, I made my own pattern.

I screwed up twice more on the left hand. And three times on the right. Looking at them, they look a bit…mismatched. I’m actually going to give you both patterns, so you can decide which you like best and take it from there. Honestly, though, I think I’m probably the only one who will ever know they’re different….except you, since you’re reading this. Keep my secret, mmmkay?

Wrist Warmers FlatI’d intended to make these straight stockinette. The perils of not paying attention…I ended up with a bump row (I’m sure there’s a specific name for it) because I purled when I should have knit on the left hand. And then did it again (on purpose), so I ended up with a cuff. I also somehow managed to increase 2 stitches, so I had to fix that, plus I must have slipped a stitch somewhere because I have a hole. And then on the right hand, I have no clue what I did…or well, I do, but no clue why it didn’t work out the same way as the left. Thinking maybe I should get some of those stitch markers next time.

Believe it or not, I’m actually starting to enjoy knitting. Oh, there’s still plenty of cursing and throwing involved. But I haven’t stabbed anything (or anyone) with my needles in a while, and I’m finishing projects. Which begs the question….what do all you knitters do with your finished projects? I have a feeling I’m quickly going to get to the point where I don’t need to keep them all. Bet I can find somewhere to donate them to, now that I think about it.

Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver (Worsted) in Claret – 1 skein

Needles: 5mm (size 8)

Left Before Seaming Left Inside Left Outside

LEFT HAND PATTERN

Cast on 28 stitches using long-tail method.

 Knit 5 rows. 

Row 6: Knit 3, purl 22, knit 3

Row 7: Knit

Rows 8 – 13: Repeat rows 6 and 7 (purl row then knit row), so row 13 is a knit row

Rows 14 – 15: Knit 3, purl 22, knit 3

Row 16: Knit

Row 17 – 24: Repeat rows 15 and 16 (purl row then knit row), so row 24 is a knit row

Rows 25 – 26: Repeat rows 14 – 15 (two purl rows)

Rows 27 – 35: Repeat rows 17-24 (purl row then knit row), so row 35 is a knit row

Bind off, and seam left and right edges together. Leave a hole for your thumb. 

Right Before Seaming Right Inside Right Outside

RIGHT HAND PATTERN

Cast on 28 stitches using long-tail method.

 Knit 5 rows. 

Row 6: Knit 3, purl 22, knit 3

Row 7: Knit

Rows 8 – 9: Repeat rows 6 and 7 (purl row then knit row), so row 9 is a knit row

Rows 10 – 11: Knit 3, purl 22, knit 3

Row 12: Knit

Rows 13 – 14: Knit 3, purl 22, knit 3

Row 15: Knit

Row 16 – 25: Repeat rows 14 and 15 (purl row then knit row), so row 25 is a knit row

Row 26: Knit

Rows 27 – 36: Repeat rows 16-25 (purl row then knit row), so row 36 is a knit row

Bind off, and seam left and right edges together. Leave a hole for your thumb. 

In case you still can't see the difference...the top picture is the left hand. Bottom is the right hand.

In case you still can’t see the difference…the top picture is the left hand. Bottom is the right hand.

I hope this wasn’t super confusing. If it was, I’m sorry!!! (Also – ignore all my mistakes in the photos.)

On both hands, my thumb hole ended up being right around row 27 or so. I used the “bump” section as the top, and the bottom edge of that was about where I wanted my thumb to hit. Almost like a ribbed edge. Just keep trying them on until you get them the way you want them.

Also…these are just slightly too big for me. I didn’t do gauge (sorry again!!), but my hand is about 4 inches wide with my thumb included. I meant to measure it all before I seamed it, but I forgot. The length from top to bottom is about 6 inches.

This took me a while – probably about 6 hours, honestly. The second one went faster. I’m just slow. I did do both hands in one night, though…because I was hormonal and cranky and stubborn. Shrug.

Regardless, I kinda like them. I think they’ll be warm and cozy, and short enough that they won’t get in the way. What do you think?

Wrist Warmers

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV ScrapsWoohoo!! Here’s to free apples, and all the fun things you can do with them!!!

You may recall my recent crab apple adventure. For the record, the tree is still dropping apples. There are also a bunch of apples way up high that I’m dying to have, but there’s no way to get to them. I need a monkey. Or to teach Luka to climb trees……

Anyway.

Since I had so many apples…and apple peels…I figured I’d see if I could do anything else appley. Hello, Pinterest.

About a year ago, I got turned on to the wonder that is Apple Cider Vinegar. I started taking it as a stomach aid…believe it or not, a spoonful of ACV in a cup of water can help with acid reflux. Don’t ask me how it works. Something about pH levels. All I know is that it helped. Since then, I’ve used it in other ways…on the dogs, in recipes, as a produce wash. I haven’t even tried most of the common uses for it yet.

uses for acvThat being said, every time I read about ACV, I read that you’re supposed to use Bragg’s because it’s unfiltered and has scoby in it (the white stuff, commonly called “mother” for whatever reason…basically, scoby is a yeast-bacteria culture, so it means you actually have vinegar). I didn’t, because Bragg’s is three times as much, and as we’ve established, I’m cheap. Yes, so cheap that I don’t want to spend $5 on a bottle of vinegar, scoby or no.

Lucky for us cheapies, there’s a pretty damn simple way to DIY your own Apple Cider Vinegar. I even got scoby, although with the method I used there was no guarantee. Guess I’m just lucky. Think I’m getting the hang of this whole domestic goddess prepper hippie thing…..knitting, canning, gardening, DIYing…next I’ll be making butter. I kind of love it.

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV Processing

  • Grab a quart jar.
  • Fill the jar with apple peels. You can throw the cores in there too if you want, though I didn’t. Fill the jar. Seriously, smush them down in there.
  • Pour in about 1/4 cup of sugar.
  • Fill the jar with water.
  • Cover the top of the jar with a thin cloth (I used a cloth napkin) and wrap a rubber band around the rim.
  • Place in a dark cabinet for at least a month.

It’s that simple. No joke.

You may notice this white scummy stuff in the jar. That’s GOOD. Don’t toss it. White scummy stuff = scoby. If you see moldy black spots, though…do toss it. Mold = bad. (Just so you know, the black spots in mine were apple spots. Not mold.)

Mine looks a little strange. It doesn’t look like the ACV I’m used to seeing. It’s lighter in color, and it’s got stuff in it. But it smells like vinegar, and tastes like vinegar, and the sediment isn’t something to worry about. And, as you can see, the quart jar of scraps didn’t yield much vinegar….so I’m making another batch.

ACV FinishedIf you don’t have a yard full of apples, I’d guess you could keep peels in your fridge until you have a full jar….or maybe even freeze them? Or just use a smaller jar, but if you do that, use less sugar.

There you have it – easy peasy cheapie Apple Cider Vinegar. And the best part is that it’s organic and natural, and well…something you made all by yourself.

Outlander Cowl

Raise your hand if you’ve been watching Outlander on Starz.

Good for you!!!

If you haven’t, stop reading and go watch it. There, I even gave you the link. (On second thought – don’t stop reading. Read this and then go watch it.)

I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon last year. I liked it, but had a few small annoyances that kept me from finishing the series. That, and, let’s face it…the books are intimidating. Outlander was 630ish pages. The second one, Dragonfly in Amber, is 770. I have no doubt it’ll be great, but I kinda have to gear myself up for that. I felt the same way with Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series. It’s a commitment, you know?

Anyway.

I was pretty excited to hear they were making a TV show, but then I promptly forgot about it. Thankfully, Jimmie has a steel-trap TV mind and keeps tabs on all of that stuff for me. A few weekends ago we plopped down on the couch and caught up on the first few episodes. We’ve been watching religiously since. (And yes, it’s mostly a girl show, but he doesn’t mind it. So guys – tough it out for your lady.)

Along about Episode 3, Claire wears this absolutely gorgeous scarf. I immediately looked at Jimmie and declared I MUST HAVE ONE.

I’m not the only one to lust after this scarf. Oh no. There should probably be a fan club just for Claire’s clothing. Sign me up.

So I Googled “Outlander Claire’s Scarf” and found half a dozen links to Etsy shops where I could pay anywhere from $35 – 70 for my very own Outlander scarf. Errmmmmm…….

Thankfully, there are skillful knitters out there who kindly provided patterns….free patterns…to make my own. Sounded like a good project, right? I figured even if the yarn was expensive, surely I could make it for less than the Etsy scarves. Plus it’d be mine.

As it turned out, I stopped in Jo-Ann’s while they had their four 50% off coupons, so the yarn and needles ended up costing me a whopping $12. Remember this post?

Joann's Haul - Outlander ScarfThese are the most ridiculous looking knitting needles I’ve ever seen. When I found them, I blurted out, “that seems extreme.” The lady stocking the yarn next to me laughed. I actually got on my phone to make sure I really needed them. (Spoiler alert – I did.)

I used Polly Foo Foo’s Outlander Cowl pattern. It was super easy to follow, and super easy to knit. I also used the same yarn she did, because I loved the way hers turned out. I followed the pattern exactly. Go to her site for the full information, but here’s the gist.

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick in Barley (2 skeins)

Needles: 25 mm (size 50)

Knit with two strands held together.

Cast on 17 stitches using long-tail method.

Knit every row until you have about 27″ of material.

Bind off and seam edges together. 

I did this in two nights, maybe about 3-4 hours total. If you’re an accomplished knitter, no doubt you’ll be faster. I’m still in the baby steps stage. If you’re here with me, knitting with two strands was actually pretty easy. I just put both skeins of yarn on the floor and let them roll around. (The dogs loved it.) Having the two strands is what makes the cowl so incredibly thick and chunky. Here’s what it looked like before seaming the ends together.

Outlander Cowl before seamingThis was also my first time knitting with thick yarn, and I totally get why everyone told me to start with it. Linda, if you’re reading this, I apologize for my stubbornness. You were totally right. SO MUCH EASIER.

And yes, in case you’re wondering – the needles (or as I like to call them, vampire stakes) are awkward. Which reminds me, if you’re making this, mine were 14″ long. I wouldn’t go any shorter than that, but they were fine.

I have to say…I’m so crazy proud of this. It’s not perfect – I still knit too tightly – but it’s mine and I made it and it’s warm and fuzzy and looks pretty darn close to how I wanted it to look. I’m also kind of obsessed with it. I want one in every color. I want to make them for gifts. I want to buy all the yarn in Jo-Ann’s and make them until my fingers bleed. I mean….LOOK AT IT. (Please ignore my messy hair – I’d just finished running on the treadmill. Go me.)

Outlander CowlAnd now, for the closeup….it’s a little blurry. I tried.

Closeup Outlander CowlDon’t you just love it?

Crab Apple Cobbler

I had so much fun canning tomatoes that I thought I’d try it again….this time, with apples.

Crab Apple Pie FillingActually, that’s not exactly how it happened.

We have these two crab apple trees in our yard. They’re huge, and all summer they’ve been dropping apples all over the yard. The dogs are eating them, the wasps are eating them, and they’re making a huge mess. I’ve always been told (I think by my mother) that crab apples weren’t for eating, so I ignored them.

Then, a few weeks ago, we gave our upright piano a new home. A friend of mine took her, and while they were over here moving it out of the house, his mother-in-law snagged an apple off the tree and ate it. She commented on how the apples would be excellent for pies, so I gave her a bag and told her to knock herself out. She did, and it got me thinking.

So, over the weekend I made Jimmie drag a ladder around to the front yard so I could pick some apples.

Picking ApplesJust like with the tomatoes, I had no clue what I was doing, but I saw on Pinterest that you could can apple pie filling. WINNER.

I picked a few too many, maybe….

Apples

So what you can’t really tell…they’re not floating. My sink was full. Both sides.

In all honesty, I didn’t think I’d be able to use all of them. I mean, they looked a little questionable. I figured if half of them were usable, that’d be a win.

Turns out most of them were perfectly fine.

He didn’t have to, but Jimmie is a helpful person, so we peeled, cored, and sliced apples for about 2 hours. Give or take an hour. We got through about half of them, maybe? In the meantime, I found a recipe for apple pie canning goo, and got that started on the stove while the jars were doing their boiling thing.

Canning PrepThis is the second time I’ve canned, and I’m thinking there’s got to be a better way to sterilize the jars, but who knows.

Once the jars were ready, I filled them mostly full of apples and poured the goo over the top. A few good shakes and smushing with my wooden spoon, and they were ready for processing. We did the water bath again, and made just as much of a mess. If you read the tomato post, the process is pretty similar, except you only need to process the jars for 20 minutes. Keep reading for the goo recipe.

Apples Pre-FillingSince I only had four jars, we ended up with extra sliced apples. I made a couple of apple cobblers using the rest of the pie goo and some Bisquick.

Chopped ApplesOMG if I thought the peach cobbler was good, this is 10,000 times better. Seriously. Like, I can’t wait to get home and eat it. So of course I’m sharing it with you.

Crab Apple Cobbler

Crab Apple Cobbler

You can probably make this with regular apples and it’d turn out just as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds crab apples (more or less, depending on your apple desires)

Topping:

  • 2 ¼ cups baking mix
  • 2/3 cups milk

 Apple Goo: (adapted from Little House Living)

*Note – this recipe makes enough to use for canning 4 quart-sized jars, and two apple cobblers. Scale up or down depending on your needs. I don’t know if you can freeze the goo or not – I haven’t tried.

  • 4 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 tsps cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

 

Make the goo first.

Pour 1 cup of water into a large pot. Pour the cornstarch in, and whisk until blended. Add the remaining water, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Eventually it’ll start to thicken and turn syrupy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the goo is simmering, peel, core, and slice the apples. Place them in the bottom of a baking dish. (I used an 8×11 casserole dish.)

Once the goo is thick enough for you, pour a cup or so over the apples. Use the rest for canning, or make another cobbler.

Mix together the baking mix and milk. Sprinkle a little cinnamon in the batter. Spread on top of the apple mixture, and top with cinnamon. (You’re following the Bisquick directions for biscuits when you make the batter.)

Cook at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until crust is golden brown around the edges.

Let cool, and enjoy!

Attention Crafty Friends!

Alright, Crafty Friends! Knitters, painters, jewelry makers…whatever your crafty pleasure, get your happy bums down to Jo-Ann’s. They’ve got four 50% off coupons this week! FOUR! Plus, they take competitor coupons…and Michael’s has another 50% off coupon. Throw in Hobby Lobby and AC Moore, and the possibilities are endless.

I just scored all of this for $12. $12, people.
Joann's Haul - Outlander ScarfCraft away!!!

(And yes, I’ll be sharing a project soon….so go buy some yarn!!!)