16 December 2013

Winter Mukluk Project

I am so excited, just finished my new winter boots! I use this pattern. It took me about 3 months to purchase materials, cut out, and make.

They kept my toes toasty warm in the 10 degree F weather for a trip to the bookstore and grocery store. I plan to make some awesome liners for them soon but for now i am layering on the socks!

I used 4-5 oz Scandinavian elk leather. I'm not sure what the Scandinavian part means, but oh my, the leather was thick and soft and pliable! It was perfect.

I widened the bottoms a little bit because they seemed like the pattern was too narrow for my feet. I didn't adjust the uppers or anything else, just the soles and insoles were widened maybe a 1/4 inch at most around the ball of the foot.

I attached the insoles with Eco Flo Tanner's bond Leathercraft cement. I just bought this at Hobby Lobby. It is a runny Elmer's glue like substance, but it seems to stick the leather together just fine while still allowing flexibility. (The wooden hammer is mostly just looking badass, I used it to help press the leathers together, but probably didn't need a fancy tool to do it)

I stitched them together with artificial sinew, also bought at Hobby Lobby. I have used this in the past and think it works well. 

At left is a picture of the completed basic pattern. I wanted them to be Iowa weather worthy, which requires some waterproof soles! After looking around for a bit, I found this awesome Etsy store called shoeology and purchases the Miracle Mold soles.I followed the directions in the video posted from the etsy site. The right picture is the soles that I attached. 

I oiled them using leather oil to make the outsides soft and waterproof.Here i have complete one of the boots so far.


05 November 2013

Quart Size Crockpot Wild Rice Soup

My little crock holds just over 4 cups of water... or soup at a time. Finding a recipe suitable for such a small one was rather difficult, so after looking at several recipes for mass amounts of soup, I came up with a recipe of my own!

My recipe involves making a white sauce at the end, so even if your crock is small, you can make about 6 cups of soup at the end.

Ingredients for crock pot:
3/4 cup wild rice
1 diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 chicken bullion cubes
2 small chicken thighs or 1 small breast
1 cup frozen veggie mix --carrot, green beans, corn and peas mix, or similar
1 1/2 bay leaves
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
2 cups water

Add all ingredients to crock pot. Cook on high for 2 hours (or until you have to leave the house or something) and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add water if it starts to look dry. Try to keep the crock pot mostly full without letting it bubble over.

Ingredients for white sauce:
1 1/2 TBS butter
2 tsp flour
2 cups milk

Melt butter in a stockpot on medium heat. When butter is melted, mix in flour, stirring quickly and constantly so that flour is not scorched. As soon as all is combined, mix in milk. (I used 2%).

Add the soup to the white sauce you just made and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

19 October 2013

How to Paint a Tree

Always wanted to be able to paint a simple tree but could never quite figure out the elusive nuances of the branches to make a beautiful tree? I was always stuck drawing figures and animals and houses without a beautiful landscape background because I couldn't paint a landscape for my life! I recently have unlocked some of what I believe are the secrets to making a beautiful tree.

Here is a tutorial on how to paint a beautiful tree using acrylic paints! I have found this to work best for trees with the branches visible. Early spring, late fall, and winter trees where there is an insignificant amount of leaves to hide the "skeleton" of the tree work best.

To the right is a tree I painted for a series I am doing of wintery trees with a pop of color.  The "pop" in this one is the single yellow leaf on the tree, the last leaf of fall. This particular painting was somewhat inspired by this piece I found on pinterest, and partially by the trip I took to the boundary waters this summer.

Anyways, here are my suggestions for creating your own beautiful trees.

step one
Start with your colors mixed with a small amount of water to make the paint more fluid. This will help the paint "flow" onto the paper so you can create a long line without having to get more paint. My paint is a deep blue mixed with a little black.

step two
Using  flat brush, paint a thick line onto your paper to create a solid trunk.

step three
Continue this line until you run out of paint, twisting the paintbrush slowly to the side as you go to make the branch get narrower and narrower. Don't worry if it ends too abruptly for your taste, you can add more to the line later.

step four
With fresh paint, paint over the trunk and create another branch following the same strategy as the first branch.I added a little wiggle to it near the top to give a more spontaneous, organic feel to it. If you want, you can add a third main branch, or more. I find usually three is my max or else the tree begins to look awkward. A third branch usually looks best coming off one of the two initial branches, rather than directly from the trunk, unless it is significantly narrower or wider than the other two. If you notice my painting at the top, the left main branch (with the leaf) comes off the middle branch, not the main trunk. It is a subtle, but important difference.
step five
At this point, you can switch to a smaller rounded brush. Following the line of your first branch, slowly pull away from the first branch at a gentle angle. You can make it more curvy if you like.
step six
Now using the same strategy, add more branches to the initial offshoot until the branch looks like a branch and not a line. THEN STOP. You can add more branches later, but cannot subtract branches after they are painted.
step seven
See how that little branch looks a little awkward coming off such a large main branch? We can fix that by thickening the line a little at the base where it connects with the larger branch. If it still looks funny, thicken a little more of the branch until you are satisfied.
step eight
I didn't like how abruptly my second main branch ended, so I simply continued the line trying to allow it to gently get narrower to create a more natural look. In this case I ran out of room and so decided to have my branch climb straight out of the paper. If you are feeling cramped remember that it is not crucial to see the entire tree in a landscape, and it is better to leave some to the imagination than to create a branch that is cramped inside the painting.
step nine
At this point, I decided to add a bit more interest to the trunk. Using my round brush, I made some lines on top of the trunk and main branches to create an illusion of texture from the bark. This step is not necessary, but you can try this strategy if you think the tree needs something.
step ten 
Keep adding more branches until the tree is to your liking.
Always make the main branch the longest one.
If a branch looks too long, add more sub-branches/twigs
If a smaller branch is much darker than a larger one and looks weird, darken the larger one.
Sub branches should ALWAYS be narrower than main branches, but ONLY SLIGHTLY

Happy Painting!

11 August 2013

Mom's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here is a recipe that I have to thank my mother-in-law for!

1 cup cold butter

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup apple sauce
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups  oatmeal
1 ½ cups flour
8 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix butter and sugar. Add in egg and apple sauce. Add rest of ingredients, and mix thoroughly.

Place golf ball sized balls off the dough on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

16 July 2013

Face Scrubbies!!

Hey all,
Its been a while...

Today I made a short and simple project so I thought I would share. I believe I got this idea from Pinterest somewhere.

Super easy project. I have been using cotton balls to apply tea tree oil to my face at night (Fights pimples surprisingly well for an oil!) and was excited to find a more sustainable route. Sure a cotton ball isn't much, but hey, you have to start somewhere right?

All I did was trace circles onto terry cloth and a cotton weave fabric, cut them out, and did a zig zag stitch around the outside to attach the two fabrics and finish the edges somewhat. With my HuskyStar sewing machine, I set the stitch length to 1 and the width to 4. I also did a straight stitch down the middle to keep everything more in place.

Here are the results!



11 April 2013


Rosemary tends to split into two different branches of tales and folklore. The first, is a tale of remembrance. While nowadays, students combat fatigue when studying for tests with energy drinks and coffee, ancient Greek students tied bits of rosemary in their hair. Caffeine may help the weary exam-crammer remain conscious, rosemary was said to help the student actually remember what was studied. Besides just aiding memory for exams, rosemary was also thrown into graves to symbolize that the dead would not be forgotten.

The second branch of legend comes from a tale about the virgin Mary. It is said that once she laid down to rest and her blue cloak was placed on a nearby branch with white flowers. While Mary slept, her cloak turned the flowers on the plant blue, and so rosemary forever afterward had blue flowers. This branch of legend celebrates rosemary as a lady's herb, one that would ensure love and faithfulness in a marriage. For this reason, rosemary was often seen at luxurious weddings, dipped in gold, as wedding favors. Even today, many brides wear rosemary in their hair on their wedding day. 

On a side note, feminists, it is told that a woman with a flourishing rosemary plant also "wears the pants" in the marriage.

Rosemary was also seen as an cure for all sorts of ailments throughout time from colds and flu to coma and a prevention against the black plague.

Rosemary, in recent studies is shown to have anti-oxidant qualities, which makes it a healthy herb to consume. Research does warn against consumption by those with anemia, as it can block some iron absorption.

Rosemary was traditionally used in cooking to enhance the flavor of meats. Here is a recipe that 

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