Making Crafty Magic

Hall & Oats-n-Honey

Today, I’m offering a peek into the creation of Hall & Oats-n-Honey Soap. This is the most gentle soap I make. It’s unscented and uses the most simple, basic ingredients one can find at a grocery store: organic coconut milk, oats, and honey (you could even use olive oil from the store as your soap base and call it a day). Coconut milk offers an assortment of vitamins and fats which actually help to clean your skin without stripping it. And we all know oats are soothing and fantastic for the skin…right? I just happen to prefer steel cut oats because they’re mildly exfoliating when added at trace. Honey has antimicrobial and anti-oxidant properties so it’s a fantastic healer. The only issue I have with it is that it’s a humectant so it absorbs and retains moisture which is great for the skin but it also makes for an oily feeling bar of soap. That’s no biggie but packaging sweaty bars can get a little tricky. Nevertheless, the results are worth it.

And without further ado, here are some soapy pics:

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In the process of making my most gentle, cold processed soap: Hall & Oats-n-Honey. Made with vegetable oils, organic coconut milk, and duh, oats and honey.
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The addition of the main ingredients. You don’t need a lot of either. Too much honey and your soap will feel very oily, even once it’s fully cured. Too many oats and the soap with crumble apart in your hands.
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This is what honey does once it’s added to your soap. Don’t panic. Just enjoy the cool color while you can because it will go away. Bummer.
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A soap with honey in it naturally needs a honeycomb texture so that’s where the bubble wrap comes in. Line the mold first, then lay down the bubble wrap layer so that it’s in direct contact with the soap. I’ve done this the opposite way and it sucked! I can’t go for that. No, nooooh. No can do!
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Unwrap 24 hours later and this is what you have. The dark spots are oily patches from the honey…nothing to worry about.
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Cut and cure, preferably for 4 to 6 weeks if you can manage it. I always cut off the raggedy ends and save them for myself. I have no problem using the thin ends after a week of curing. I enjoy getting first dibs.

My ponderings on honey…

First, let me preface this by saying that I am by no means a beekeeping or honey expert. I’m just passing along what I know and I freely admit that there’s much more to learn. Although I’m trying to go the vegan route in my products, I have no intention of giving up honey and beeswax. I have friends and acquaintances who are passionate, conscientious beekeepers. In fact, beekeeping hobbyists–along with organic farmers, scientists and apiculturists–are on the frontlines of preventing the total collapse of honey bee populations and I want to do what I can to support them. (Here’s a little factoid for yah: Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.)

Always shop local and shop small, especially when it comes to honey (eating local honey helps with seasonal allergies). I recommend buying your honey at farmers markets and craft fairs. This way you can casually inquire about their harvesting practices. Certainly make sure they are harvesting just the surplus honey. Bees need honey too. It especially sustains them through the colder months. Yet, many beekeepers will take it all (usually in the Fall when their biological need for it begins to increase) and replace it with corn syrup. Corn syrup is definitely not the same thing. Honey has anti-oxidant and antimicrobial properties, corn syrup does not. This, among a zillion other issues, has led to starvation and disease among colonies. And while you’re talking, you may also want to inquire about any herbicides and insecticides being sprayed nearby that may inadvertently find its way into the colony and into your honey.

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Disclaimer: Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease or substitute care by a medical practitioner. All recommendations are believed to be effective, but since actual use of this product is beyond our control and can vary from individual to individual, no guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken.

Making Crafty Magic

The soap debacle has ended in joy!

So luckily this mess…

6c4c7b123bf311e3849f22000aeb126c_8Turned into this awesomeness…2013-10-24 10.12.45By the beard of Zeus! By last night, I was 100% positive that I was going to have to scrap this soap. As I shook the soap block out of the mold I was absolutely dreading what I was about to see. I apprehensively peeked at it with one eye, preemptively wincing, to find that it was, in fact, beautiful! It’s made with olive, organic coconut, castor & avocado oils mixed with natural colorants (turmeric, spirulina, activated charcoal, pure cocoa, cloves, & cinnamon), fullers earth clay, french green clay and cinnamon essential oil. Not too shabby for my first (and probably last) attempt at the faux funnel pour.

Also, I’m featured in the Artist Spotlight on The Treehouse’s blog. If you’ve ever wondered about me (and many do…myself included), feel free to read this. It may help clear things up or perhaps make them even more mirky…who knows!?

Here’s what I’ve accomplished today…

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I have three more of these particular messenger bags in the works. All bags and jewelry will be sold at upcoming shows and eventually make it to the Hazardous Materials Etsy store.

2013-10-24 18.10.50And what did I do with all of my little, teeny, tiny, wee scraps of fabric from making these bags, you ask?2013-10-24 18.07.20

Well most people would probably throw the scraps out BUT I can’t seem to throw anything out (with the exception of bills and the like). And no, it’s not a good thing. I seem to have a guilt complex around this issue. Perhaps something inside me sees an opportunity wasted? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I managed to make some really adorable jewelry out of the scraps from my recent sweatshopesque bag-making extravaganza. Just what I needed, more incentive to hold on to my hoarding habit.

Other points of interest that I thought I would pass along:

♥ For those of you who have a craft show display fetish, like I do, Laura from Roots and Feathers just posted the coolest jewelry display EVER! There’s no doubt it would make people stop to shop. Afterall, it’s all about curb appeal…just like so many things in life (Ooh, that’s my gutter mind sneaking into this blog post. Bad Jaime!) . See it here.

♥ This nice gal named Carli just contacted me via Etsy about submitting a product for review on her website, Livin’ the Mom Life. Sadly, I’m pinching every last penny so I’m not participating in any product reviews at this time BUT I wanted to share her site because she has a lot of information on product recalls and coupons (which I need to actually start clipping more of, speaking of pinching every penny). Visit her site here.

♥ Last but not least, I need to give another shout-out to my girl, Lisa. Just a few short weeks ago I helped her get her product review website up and running and she’s already gotten over 400 subscribers! She’s the Little Engine That Could of the reviewing world. Keep on chugging woman! Jesse from Themis and Thread is going to be sending her some clothes and jewelry to review. It’s always great to be the catalyst behind bringing two great people together. I plan to help her out from time to time on product reviews when/if she becomes overwhelmed. Check her out cuz she’ll be Checking U Out!

Making Crafty Magic

Themis and Thread

Friends and readers, I’m excited to introduce you to one of my nearest and dearest friends who just happens to be a mega-talented, environmentally-savvy, fashion rock star! Jesse and I go way back…

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The two of us cavorting in a New Orleans tattoo parlor many, many years ago.

to the days of hustlin’ wine in the Finger Lakes (which just so happens to be the wine and beer mecca of the east). Sure, we’ve shared some epic and awkward moments. For example, I accidentally went on her first date with Brett. It’s okay though because I ended up officiating their wedding ceremony.  She’s been a good friend to me and more than anything, she’s been a source of inspiration in my life.  That’s why I’m thrilled to share with you her most recent creative endeavor, Themis and Thread. Let me tell you, this gal knows all there is about fashion design and she has the degree, talent, and experience to prove it. More than that though, she’s offering us that rare opportunity to support an independent business owner who specializes in making customized, eco-friendly, American-made clothes.  If you knew all of the harmful chemicals and horrific overseas factory conditions that went into making textiles, you wouldn’t be shopping at stores that encourage you to buy cheaply made, expendable clothing (visit this page for just one of too many examples). I’m a firm believer in spending a little extra to invest in high-quality clothes that will last a long time instead of purchasing a lot of cheap, trendy junk.  Jesse’s making clothes with good karma and the styles won’t go out of fashion. These are staple wardrobe pieces here people! Plus, she makes clothes that are customized to fit your preferences and proportions–because bodies come in all shapes and sizes (which I don’t think most designers understand). So I encourage you to read her press release below, like Themis and Thread on Facebook, shop till you drop, and then shop some more on Etsy.

imageIntroducing A Fresh, Local, Organic Wardrobe to Match Your Diet!

HECTOR, August 2, 2013- Themis and Thread is a catalog/micro manufacturer start-up featuring a five piece clothing line, designed with the exclusive use of American-made components and 100% organic cotton. Business operations are conducted in the heart of The Finger Lakes, where fresh, local and organic standards are a generation sustaining lifestyle. Jesse Junko Beardslee’s Summer designs are fundamental staples, with a fresh, new twist – i.e. “Promenade Pants”, white pants- flared with a teal paisley side panel insert and a muted lime waistband as just one color option (Style Number 1768).

Delightfully reminiscent ordering options include a mail order catalog in circulation, complete with a mail-in order form, phone in ordering, and options for customization; Each piece is made to order and can be adjusted to fit any customers’ specifications. Themis and Thread’s debut line is available for purchase online at themisandthread.ecrater.com, the catalog is available for review at The StoneCat Cafe, Kirton’s Farm Market, Hector Wine Company, Rasta Ranch Vineyards and New Image Hair Network. The catalog is also available per request via e-mail (jessecreates@icloud.com), where you can request to join the paper-free e-mailing list as well.

The business was formed in May 2013, with the official launching of the catalog in July. Each piece from the collection is lovingly, hand-crafted on Seneca Lake, and everything is sourced from The United States of America, right down to the thread that holds the clothing together, the paper the catalog is printed on, and the safety pins that attach the content cards! Designer/Owner/Creator, Jesse Junko Beardslee’s commitment to America, the environment, and community transcends through her flagship collection, you can find the mission statement on the home page of Themis and Thread’s website themisandthread.ecrater.com.

Their fabrics are made from organic cotton, grown by American farmers in the South, woven into fabric and printed with non-toxic, sustainable methods on the East coast, stitched into clothing in The Finger Lakes, and distributed direct to consumer; Thus eliminating the typical shipping pattern of the fashion industry, where components and clothing bundles are shipped up to four times across the planet before showing up on sales racks in malls, with incredibly cheap price tags. The true cost of fast fashion (not unlike fast food), is often paid for by the environment.

Themis and Thread is dedicated to victimless fashion, a broadening concern among many casual shoppers and fashionistas alike, especially since the recent factory disaster in Bangladesh on April 24th. Unsafe working conditions and human rights violations are often hidden behind the glamorous facade of the fashion industry.  

Themis and Thread showcases a revival of righteous, domestic, skilled artisans, and also presents the handiwork of select artisans’ jewelry and accessories. The Summer collection features Natalie Martin, Erica Lynn Drake, and Round Rabbit’s (Nancy Schindler-Adams) art (also made in The Finger Lakes), and is available through the catalog and online at themisandthread.ecrater.com.

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Making Crafty Magic

My throne room and other such goodies

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This is my throne room. Pretty much, what you see is what you get. The velvet Snoopy was a cast-off from a friend who was moving away. Who could resist a drunken, velvet Snoopy? Not moi. And yes, that is Mister Hanky blessing my bowl. Next to him is a knit mustache that was given as a gift. I actually have a mustache collection. I’ve got a thing for facial hair. If you have a bald head and a crap ton of facial hair, I want you.
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This is actually my closet. It was large enough that I kept one half for my clothes and the other half as a guest space (this couch pulls out into a bed). The quilt is from my childhood. The pegboard is the perfect spot for my sewing tools and also to organize my costume jewelry collection. The organ was a Cassie cast-off and I’m in love with it. It sounds just like Yann Tiersen playing accordion. Each note is pure joy to my ears! And no, I’m not stockpiling kitty litter. These are the best storage containers you can find. They’re even perfect for lugging merchandise to and from craft shows–if you can deal with the perplexed and disgusted looks.
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This is the actual clothes portion of my closet. Can’t get enough of those scarves! One of my many fetishes. And yes, those are Dukes of Hazzard Mardi Gras beads straight from New Orleans. It’s only fitting, me being a Hazard and all.
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Here’s a view of my deck–the one space that doesn’t feel finished. Oh well. Next spring I’ll work on that.
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My hammock chair.
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A great photo of me and Tuna.
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There’s the elusive creature that I’ve been courting with food.
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A very cool insect on my bird feeder. Does mother nature make a gazillion-o-pede because this thing looked like it had a gazillion legs?
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Okay, I’m in awe and afraid all at the same time when it comes to the praying mantis. Just to warn you, they will fight you and you will lose. This creature was the size of my hand and it was hanging out near my hammock chair. There was no swinging for me that day!

Making Crafty Magic

Where the magic happens

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A colorful panorama here. I cannot praise the baker’s rack enough. All of my Sweet Pea’s inventory goes right there, where I can easily find it. The tablecloth is oil-cloth from the Salvation Army. Such a great find for a buck. Oil-cloth is the best stuff on earth.
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Pouty Petunia wondering what the heck I’m doing. Doesn’t she realize by now that I don’t have a clue?
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A former supervisor moved into an old farmhouse and this enormous clock was found in the shed. She was nice enough to give it to me. I’ll pretty much accept any cool junk that comes my way.
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I had to photograph my beloved Nutri-Bullet. I can’t leave home without it. I literally schlepped that thing to Yellowstone with me. Next to it is a Bitch wine bottle lamp I made. It’s full of tampons, just for irony.
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All of my favorite things displayed on one shelf. Look! A little, pink ET. Awe!
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My all time favorite gift is in this shot. My former roomie, Thom, made me a Salad Fingers puppet with a vase full of rusty spoons and a rusty tap for Valentines Day a few years ago. Best gift ever! Now he sits on top of my fridge and whispers sweet nothings to me all day. There’s also a piece of slate from a historic building in New Orleans up on the wall.
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I had to include my t-shirt rug in at least one shot! The glass jug (aka a carboy) and the large box next to the baker’s rack are beer making equipment. Yum! The large black square in the left corner is the temporary home of my reiki table until I find a more permanent place for it. And this reminds me that I need to hang that poster up that’s sitting behind it.
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Another BananaPanorama.
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My entry-way is what I consider to be my Cassandra Quackenbush gallery. I have all of her tiny art on display there, along with a bird’s nest, and my container garden.
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All of my plants are lined up against the wall here. Hopefully, they’re getting enough sun–fingers crossed. The bench stores all of my field biology and camping gear, plus it’s nice to sit on when you take your shoes off and sing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be, my neighbor?” Now, where’s my darn sweater?

As promised, here are some photos of my kitchen. Feel free to click on them to enlarge your view. This is where all the good stuff gets made–like beer, soap, salves and such. The dining room table doubles as my sewing table and it conveniently folds up so I can actually set up my reiki table in here. There’s a lot going on in this tiny space, that’s for certain, but I’ve found it a lot easier to use compared to the enormous kitchen in the barn. For example, a batch of soap would take me over 2.5 hours to make at the barn, whereas it only takes me an hour here. Cooking and making soap became a hassle because the kitchen at the barn was complete and utter chaos. This place is set up for efficiency and I’m actually enjoying the process of making things again.

Making Crafty Magic

When in doubt, beautify.

DSCF2728I love, love, love to decorate. Have I mentioned that I love to decorate? Well, it just so happens that I do. When I get down in the dumps, the first thing I do is clean, organize and rearrange my space. Perhaps it revitalizes some feng shui or juju within my psyche. All I know is that when I’m in a relaxing place, all seems right as rain. Another thing I love is tiny spaces. When the two worlds collide–tiny spaces and decorating–I’m in heaven. Well, it just so happens that I moved into a teeny-weenie, 300-square foot apartment. These past few months have been spent making infinitesimal decorative fine adjustments and now I finally feel like my apartment is ready for public consumption. So, I wanted to share what I’ve created thus far. Considering that I run several businesses out of my apartment, I think I’ve done a bang-up job of balancing functionality and personality. My requirements were many: I needed a space to make soaps and other bath & body products, plus storage for bottles and ingredients; I needed storage for my vending gear such as tents and tables; I needed a place to sew and make jewelry, plus storage for my mass quantity of fabric; I needed a place to store all of my field biology equipment such as tents, day packs, night packs, and miscellaneous camping gear; I needed a place to meet with people; and I needed a place to set up my reiki table. That’s a tall order for an apartment this size but I rose to the challenge. Heck, at least it doesn’t look like a hoarder lives here, which is what I was afraid would be the case when I first moved in. Since I went crazy with the photos, I’m going to have to break up my apartment tour into several installments. These photos are of my living room/bedroom space. Click on any photo to display a larger version.

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This is Petunia’s bed that she lets me sleep on. I used my desk as a room divider which gave me the chance to hang some of my favorite painings and photos. Michael Sowa is probably my favorite artist. He knows how to capture whimsy. I made the large mosaic box on the desk out of all the accidentally smashed dishware that I’ve been collecting over the years. I’m still not completely finished but I will share photos when I’m done. Right now it holds all of my reiki supplies such as tuning forks, cheat sheets, crystals, etc…
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I included this photo because you can see the stray cat outside. I’ve been putting food out for it in the hopes that it will want to become part of the family at some point.
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My beloved Gibson, The Paul. It calls to me everyday…”Play Me! Play Me!” I’ve gotten good at ignoring it, unfortunately. The items in the striped bag are all the urns and ashes of my dead pets. The striped bag is actually the first thing I ever sewed in home-economics class and it served as the carrier for my savannah monitor named Satchel. He went with me everywhere in that little bag for eleven years. The green wine bottle is actually a silk-screened memorial to a winemaker/friend who has passed and the feathers are from a pet crow who has passed.
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Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always wanted a net over my bed. Don’t ask me why. Last year I found one for super cheap on Overstock.com and went for it. By cheap, I mean $17 bucks. Can’t beat that! And I just love it.
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I adore the tv cabinet I scored at the Salvation Army a few years ago. It reminds me of the hurricane shutters on all the windows in New Orleans. On top of the tv is my very own nicho that I made. I definitely have to share some photos of that at some point. The quilt draped over the chair is the best one I’ve made thus far. It was the first class I ever taught at Jo-Ann’s so it holds some great memories for me.

Making Crafty Magic

The Treehouse: A Post to Drool Over

I’m in the process of spring cleaning everything, including my computer files, and came across these pictures I totally spaced on sharing. Doh! I took these a few months ago when Kathy (the wonderful owner of The Treehouse) allowed me to work in her store for the day. I’ve never wanted to work somewhere so much in my life! Usually, I have the opposite problem. Amazingly enough, I walked out at the end of the day and didn’t purchase a single thing. I was super proud of myself because as soon as I walk into that place I usually lose all impulse control. Although some things have changed since I took these pictures, at least you can get an idea of how gorgeous the space is and how thoughtfully Kathy curates the store. If you see something that you just can’t live without or if you want to visit, click here for more info.

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Here are a few photos from The Treehouse’s 1st Anniversary Party & Artists’ Reception:

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Helen (as in Helen of Memphis) is talking to another talented artist. Click on this photo to see what Helen is all about. You can catch her working in the store on Wednesdays.

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Last but not least, this adorable creature is named Erin and she has a brand-spankin’ new store called The Modern Dream in Saugerties. Click on her picture to learn more.

 

Making Crafty Magic, Tutorials

The secret life of a bubble mailer.

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In classic Jaime fashion, this is my second attempt at this post due to the fact that my first attempt randomly included a pic of my bright-white, bare legs– tattoos and all– for reasons unbeknownst to moi. Sorry if I burned anyones eyes…it’s all good. So here we go again… I wanted to do a post on a recent family collaboration. In February, I gifted my brother my old Kindle and he loathed the case it came with, saying it looked like a pair of my underbritches. So he drew out a design and sent me the materials and this is the end result. Pretty cool! It’s made with a plastic bubble mailer which will protect it from falls and rain. It’s lined with a reused terrycloth towel to help keep the screen clean. The awesome skull buttons are extras from a pair of jeans he loves. And here comes the irony: wait for it…wait for it…The fabric comes from three pairs of his swimming underbritches. Hah! Plus there are two pockets: one for the cord and one for his wallet and such. And a clip for his keys. Not too shabby of a collab if I may say so. If you plan to try this, let me know if you have any questions. It’s a breeze if done in the proper order.

Making Crafty Magic

That special something is revealed

https://i0.wp.com/www.pandora.com/static/images/email_share/hdr_logo.jpgIf you’ve ever used one of my products and experienced that special feeling one would equate to being sprinkled with fairy dust or gently tapped by the magic wand of a powerful wizard, please know that you are not alone. Unfortunately it’s time for me to come clean (no pun intended but…) and finally end this charade once and for all. This addictive high cannot be attributed to my particular talents. Sadly, no. My products are unique because of my musical choices during the creation process. They are most assuredly imbued with musical magic. So if you’re soaping up and suddenly feel suave like Sinatra or have the energy of James Brown on crack, just enjoy the side effect of my work environment. To fully reap the benefits and painlessly experience super-human levels of productivity, feel free to listen along with me. You will need to set up a free Pandora account but don’t worry, it won’t hurt. Warning: Ample room is needed to fully enjoy this station. Sitting is just not possible!