DIY: Heart Embroidery Sampler (For Beginners)

DIY: Heart Embroidery Sampler (for beginners)

Embroidery is one of my favorite craft mediums. It’s the perfect ‘lap’ project to work on while watching a movie and I love that I can pick up my project, work on a few stitches and just as easily put it down again. I first learned embroidery from my grandmother, who taught me to sew when I was a kid. Since then I have accumulated a big collection of vintage embroidery kits, endless boxes of floss, and have been known to transform my own art into embroidered masterpieces.

In case you haven’t heard, the DIY Craft Challenge is back! This month’s theme is Stitches & Threads, which pairs perfectly with embroidery. I’ve been longing to create a beginner embroidery tutorial for quite some time now, so this month is the perfect opportunity! And since it’s February, I made sure to design a project that can also become a Valentine for someone special in your life!

What is an embroidery sampler?

An embroidery sampler is created as a demonstration or test of skill in needlework. It’s the perfect way to practice different kinds of stitches and make something pretty at the same time.

There are hundreds of different types of embroidery stitches in existence. For this beginner project, I’ve chosen just seven: three basic outline stitches (Running Stitch, Back Stitch and Chain Stitch) and four decorative stitches (Threaded Running Stitch, Cross Stitch, Star Stitch and Fern Stitch). To make these stitches as easy to learn as possible I’ve included both photos with written instructions and a video link for each stitch.

7 Embroidery Stitches For Beginners

MATERIALS:

  • 8-inch diameter embroidery hoop:
    The Heart Sampler pattern was created for an 8” hoop but if you would like to make a different size sampler, you can shrink or enlarge the pattern provided to fit your hoop. I’d recommend not going smaller that 6” for this pattern.
  • Hand-sewing/embroidery needle:
    You’ll want to use a medium sized needle with a sharp point and a long opening, or eye, at one end, for easy threading.
  • Embroidery floss (7 different colors):
    Embroidery floss comes in a small bundle or skein and there are tons of colors available (check your local craft store). A length of floss is made up of six smaller strands or plies that are twisted together. You can use all of them or divide them up and use two, three or four plies for a thinner line. For this project, we’ll be using all 6 plies on all our stitches EXCEPT the star stitch, where we will use only three plies.
  • 12”x12” square of fabric (quilter’s cotton or linen works best):
    The looser the weave of your fabric, the more forgiving it can be when taking out stitches and starting over. A finer weave fabric is more likely to show holes from your needle.
  • Sewing scissors:
    Sewing scissors are sharp and used only for cutting thread and fabric. Avoid using your sewing scissors to cut paper or anything else beside fabric so that you don’t dull the blades.
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Fine-lead pencil (or nonpermanent fabric marking pen):
  • Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad (or light table or sunny window)
  • Washi tape (or masking tape or pins)
  • Paper cutter (or scissors & ruler)
  • Heart Sampler Pattern

Other Useful Tools:

  • A needle threader (helpful when you find yourself struggling to thread your needle!)
  • Thimble (can prevent you from stabbing yourself in the finger with your needle. Ouch!)

DIY: Embroidery Sampler (For Beginners)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step One: Prep the Pattern & Fabric

Download the Heart Sampler Pattern HERE and print out onto white copy paper. Then cut 1.25” from both the top and bottom of the page to create a square piece of paper with the pattern at the center.

Cut your fabric to size. I cut mine to be 12”x12” square leaving me plenty of extra. You could also get away with a 10”x10” piece of fabric too. Press your fabric to rid of any wrinkles using a hot iron.

How to use the pattern:

Use the lines of the pattern as a guide for your stitches. You’ll notice that each line has an assigned number to indicate which stitch to use. In this tutorial I will demonstrate how to make each stitch. There are a few stitches that are used more than once (like the running stitch, back stitch and chain stitch). Feel free to fill in these stitches as you go along.

Step Two: Transfer the Pattern to Fabric Using the Light Method

The easiest way to transfer a design onto a light-color fabric is to trace it. Place the square paper pattern face down onto the center of the square fabric and secure with washi tape or pins. Flip over and use a light table or my favorite tool, the Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad, to transfer the pattern to the fabric using a fine lead pencil or nonpermanent fabric marking pen. You can also tape your fabric/design to a sunny window and use the natural light to trace.

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Step Three: Prepare the Fabric & Floss

Place the fabric into your embroidery hoop making sure the design is centered. To make your fabric taut, spread it over the smaller inside hoop and fit the larger outside hoop over the top with your fabric in between. Tighten the little screw on the outer hoop and gently pull on the edges of the fabric until you have a taut surface to work with.

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Threading your needle:

Threading the needle can be a little tricky, especially when using all six plies of floss. It may help to slightly dampen your finger and twist the end of the thread into a point, or try squeezing the floss ends flat between your thumb and forefinger. Then slide the needle’s eye onto the floss (instead of pushing the floss through the eye). If all else fails, use a needle threader.

Once you’ve threaded your needle, knot the longer end of the floss by first wrapping it around your finger, then roll it off and tighten into a knot.

Video Link: How To Tie A Knot For Hand Sewing

Step Four: Stitching the Design

running-stitch

1. Running Stitch: To begin stitching the Heart Sampler, let’s start with the most basic embroidery stitch- the Running Stitch. Begin at the center dashed line of the heart pattern. Starting at the bottom, pull the threaded needle to the front of the fabric at A (see photo above). Then return to the back of the fabric at B. The distance from A to B can be as long or short as you want. For this project, I recommend making small, even stitches of equal length. End your last stitch so that your needle is to the back of the fabric and tie off.

Video Link: Running Stitch

Tying off:

On your last stitch, return the needle to the back of the fabric. To tie off, pass the needle under a previous stitch creating a loop. Bring the needle back through the floss loop, and tighten. I recommend pulling the thread gently when tying off to ensure that the knot ends up snuggly next to your fabric (and not half an inch away). Avoid yanking the floss.

Video link: How to tie off a stitch

Embroidery Tip!

Your thread will get twisted up as you make your stitches. To correct this problem, hold up the hoop and let the needle and floss dangle straight down so that the strand can untwist itself. Just make sure not to lose your needle!

back-stitch

2. Back Stitch: Move over to the next line on the pattern (from the middle running stitch). Starting at the bottom of the pattern, bring your needle through to the front of the fabric at A (see photo above). Then go backwards and return your needle to the back of your fabric at B. Next your going to move your needle forward, coming up at C. Repeat this process to create consecutive back stitches by once again working backwards, poking your needle through at the end of the previous stitch, then moving your needle forward. Be sure to make small, even stitches of equal length. Once you reach the end of the line (of the pattern), tie off.

Video Link: Back Stitch

cross-stitch

3. Cross Stitch: Next we are going to try our first decorative stitch! Starting at the bottom of your pattern, bring your needle through to the front of the fabric at A and then back down again at B (creating a diagonal straight stitch). Next make a second stitch from C to D. Make sure each cross (x) overlap is in the same direction. Once you finish your row and tie off, notice what the back or your stitches look like. The back of a Cross Stitch row should look like the image shown.

Video Link: Cross Stitch

threaded-running-stitch

4. Threaded Running Stitch: First make a line of small close Running Stitches. End the floss. Start a second floss strand (in a different color) at the same spot as the first line of running stitches, bringing your needle to the front of your fabric at A. Working on the front only, without stitching through the fabric, insert the needle under the first Running Stitch, then through the second Running Stitch. Continue weaving back and forth under the Running Stitches until you reach the end of the line. End floss and tie off.

Video Link: Threaded Running Stitch (Warning: This video is not in English, but her demonstration of the stitch is all you really need).

chain-stitch

5. Chain Stitch: Start again at the bottom of the pattern and move your way up. Bring the threaded needle to the front at A. Insert the needle back into the fabric at A and then just poke the needle back up to the front at B. Loop the thread under the needle point then pull the thread through to create your first chain. Begin the next stitch in the same way by inserting the needle back into the fabric at B (now under the loop), coming up at C (outside the loop). Bring the thread around and under the needle point and pull the thread through. On your last stitch, end the chain by inserting your needle into the end of the last chain (outside the loop). Pull the thread through to the back and tie off.

Video link: Chain Stitch

fern-stitch

6. Fern Stitch: Fern Stitch consists of three Straight Stitches of equal length radiating from the same central point A. Starting at the top of the pattern and moving your way down, bring the thread through at A and then make a Straight Stitch to B. Bring the thread back through again at point A and make another Straight Stitch to C. Bring the thread back through at point A (for the final time) and make a final straight stitch to D. Repeat this pattern by moving the needle down and coming up through the next center stitch to begin the next three radiating stitches. The center stitch follows the light of the pattern design.

Video Link: Fern Stitch (Note: This demonstration is done differently than described above. Either method works!)

star-stitch

7. Star Stitch: This is an Eight Point Star Stitch. Begin by first making a basic cross stitch. Then make another cross stitch diagonally on top of the first one to form a star.

Video Link: Star Stitch

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Step Five: Finishing for Display

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Once finished, turn your embroidery sampler to the back and take a look. My grandma always said that the back of your embroidery project should look just as neat and tidy as the front! But don’t worry. It’s OK is yours doesn’t look so tidy, since no one is meant to see the back of your project anyway (unless you show your grandma and she wants to check your stitches lol).

You can now prep your project for display. If you plan to make your heart sampler into a pillow, for example, you can remove it from the hoop and move on to your sewing machine. Or you can leave it as ‘Hoop Art’ by using the embroidery hoop as a frame for the project. To do this, make sure your Heart Sampler is centered in the hoop and the fabric is nice and taut. Then use sewing scissors to cut away the excess fabric.

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DIY: Photo Album Pop-up Ornaments


Okay. I’ll admit it. I have possibly been making too many ornaments.

The floor is covered in little bits of paper, the ribbons are everywhere, and cat is oh so happy. (Happy and thus in the background of many of my photos.) I can’t help it. I’ve given myself over to the ornament bug, and even though I’ve told myself that these are ‘just this year’s ornaments’, I’m not sure I’ll have the self control to throw them all away.

I need a crafter help line… or maybe I can just spread the decoration disease and have you all join me in the madness. (*evil laughter*)

My sister recently handed over a large bag of family photos, and after the proper period of mortification I decided that I needed to do something with them. The best part about being in charge of photo projects is that you can include only adorable pictures of yourself, and edit out the slightly more awkward times.

I pulled together a selection of photos of family that yelled “HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Y’ALL!” Scanned and shrank them, then pulled out a few basic tools to turn the faces I love into ornaments I’ll cherish.

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SUPPLIES

  • Resized photos printed on medium-heavy weight paper
  • Extra colored paper or cardstock
  • Medium to large hole punches– any symmetrical shape will work, I used circles and ovals
  • Ribbon or string
  • Buttons, bells, or beads
  • Paper glue or adhesive

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To begin I punched my favorite people out of my favorite photos, and the same number of circles out of cardstock. Then I chose between 4 and 6 of my favorites, the same number of solid circles, and folded each in half– top to bottom.

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I chose a button than matched my cardstock, then cut about 16 inches of string and fed it through the button.

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I used my Scotch ATG gun to apply adhesive to each folded piece (glue works too).

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I attached each piece to the one before it in a stack, alternating photos and cardstock. (Make sure that you don’t accidentally glue your sister in upside-down. She wouldn’t like that. All photos should point the same way.)

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I laid the string and button across the spine of my stack (button on the bottom), added a little adhesive to one of the folded pieces, and attached the top and bottom piece to form a ball shape.

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Then I fed another button on above the ball, tied a knot, and fluffed open all the pages.

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I love how simple they look from far away, but each page is a memory of the holidays and of my family.

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I did a few variations, using different punches, and combining shapes on one ribbon; but they are all put together the same way which means I could spend more time remembering good times than obsessing over the process.


It also means it’s a great project for kids, who might get a thrill out of punching holes out of photos.
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and keeping them forever.

DIY: Season’s Greetings Printable Herb Packet Gift

Season's Greetings Printable Herb Packet Gift Idea
I recently created this fun holiday printable idea for Garden Therapy and thought I would share it here on A.I.M for you to enjoy! -Rachel

Quick and easy holiday gifts are essential for surviving the holiday season. This free printable “Season’s Greetings” Herb Packet is perfect for small gifts and can easily fit into the mail with your holiday greeting cards! Use herbs harvested from your own garden to create flavorful seasoning mixes paired with a simple and delicious recipe.

CLICK HERE to for the full tutorial and free printable download over at Garden Therapy!

Season's Greetings Printable Herb Packet Gift Idea

RECIPE: Turmeric Hot Toddy (for cold/flu relief)

RECIPE: Turmeric Hot Toddy
Since making up a batch of turmeric paste last week I’ve been adding it to my morning ritual of drinking hot lemon water. I usually add a dash of cayenne and ginger powder and now I’m adding a teaspoon of turmeric paste as well. In the midst of my current obsession with turmeric and its amazing health benefits, I’ve been collecting recipes via Pinterest. When I stumbled across this recipe for a Turmeric Hot Toddy I knew I had to try it.

I usually only crave a hot toddy when I’m sick with a cold since the drink is known to ease the aches and pains of the common cold. But since my morning ritual tea is so similar to a hot toddy (minus the booze), I decided to give it a try and enjoy a hot mug on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

RECIPE: Turmeric Hot Toddy

How does a Hot Toddy ease cold symptoms exactly?

• For hundreds of years brandy has been used as a traditional remedy for the common cold/flu. The natural warming properties of brandy, mixed with its relaxing quality that induces healthy sleep and the antibacterial nature of alcohol, together creates a much needed boost for the immune system. You can read more on the health benefits of brandy here.
• Lemon and honey can relieve a sore throat, help loosen congestion and prevent dehydration.
• Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, a natural blood purifier, and is antioxidant and antiseptic.

Note: Even though I do enjoy the cold/flu relief felt when sipping a hot toddy, it’s not the only remedy I turn to when I’m feeling sick. It’s also a good idea to get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Don’t forget that alcohol actually dehydrates the body, so think of a hot toddy as a way to pamper yourself when you’re feeling sick and drink in moderation.

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Turmeric Hot Toddy
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1-2 oz brandy or bourbon
  • 1 tsp turmeric paste
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 lemon
  • Cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a glass mug, juice ½ lemon and add turmeric paste and honey. Stir to combine. Fill half way with hot water and stir until turmeric/honey is melted. Add 1-2 ounces of brandy or bourbon and top off with more hot water.
  2. Garnish with a lemon wedge, cloves, cinnamon stick and a star anise. Drink hot!
  3. Note: you can substitute herbal tea for the turmeric paste

RECIPE: Turmeric Hot Toddy

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

Tie-dye has been a favorite hobby of mine since I was a kid. I remember first learning to tie-dye as a girl scout at summer camp and it’s what initially inspired my former handmade business, Camp Smartypants back in 2009. While I still love to wear tie-dye today, it’s been years since I’ve dug out my supplies and tie-dyed something new.

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

For my newest hobby (I have many), I’ve taken up the study of herbs and creating my own Materia Medica. When choosing which herb to research next, I settled on Turmeric for it’s amazing orange color (perfect for the fall season). Turmeric is used in Indian and Asian cuisine, it has amazing medicinal properties, and is also used as a natural dye for both food and textiles.

Turmeric is one of my favorite spices (I turn to it often to help ease pain and inflammation) and I was excited to be able to get crafty with it and dye a new scarf to wear this fall season. Of course, I couldn’t resist tying up the fabric before tossing it into the prepared dye, making for a vibrant, natural tie-dye.

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

Supplies Needed

• Turmeric powder (about 1/2 cup)
• White vinegar
• *White natural fiber scarf (like cotton or silk)

Additional Tools

• Large pot
• Rubber gloves
• Waxed thread (I used Flat Sinew)

*I used a white jersey scarf from American Apparel

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

Instructions

First things first, wash and dry your fabric to release any starch that might still be in the fibers. Then simmer fabric in a large pot with a water/vinegar solution for one hour (use 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar). This process creates a fixative for the turmeric dye.

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

Rinse and ring out your fabric under cold water until it no longer smells of vinegar and set aside. Fill the pot with fresh water again (using enough water to cover your fabric) and bring to a simmer. Add the turmeric powder (I used about 1/2 cup of turmeric, but you can use more or less depending on whether you want a dark or light color) and stir until dissolved. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

While the turmeric dye is simmering, tie up your scarf any way you’d like. I like to use flat sinew (a waxed thread) for tie-dye but you can use rubber bands or regular string as well.

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

Submerge the tied fabric into the dye bath and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir the fabric every once in a while to make sure it’s completely soaked in the dye and to prevent the fabric from burning. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the fabric sit in the dye bath for as long as you want. I wanted my scarf to be as dark yellow/orange as possible so I left it in the dye bath for a full 24 hours.

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

Once the fabric is approximately two shades darker than your desired color, remove it from the dye bath and rinse under cold water to remove the excess dye. Cut off your string or remove your rubber bands and continue squeezing and rinsing until the water runs clear again. Place rinsed fabric in the dryer or hang dry.

DIY: Turmeric Tie-Dye Scarf #natural #dye #tiedye

What a fun project! I am so happy with the results and am loving the pungent turmeric aroma that filled my kitchen over the weekend.

I used this post by Itty Bitty Impact as a guide for this project.

DIY: Woven Paper Gift Basket

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After my experiment with the rolled paper gift basket, I decided that I needed a quicker version that I wouldn’t feel bad about parting with as a gift basket. (The rolled paper version was lovely, but it took so much time that it was more like a gift in itself.)

Using similar methods, and the same materials, I came up with a very simple woven basket that could easily be sized to fit different gifts.

Supplies I used

• A medium sized stapled catalog
• Elmer’s Glue-All
• A dowel for rolling strips
• Clothes pins
• Scissors
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My first step was to remove the staples that bound the catalog, and to cut it length-wised into 5″ pieces.

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I took each piece and quickly rolled it around a wooden dowel, starting at the corner. I then secured the other corner with a drop of glue, and carefully  slid the paper tube off of the dowel. I then flattened it with my fingernail into a long strip of paper.

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I estimate how many strips of paper I wanted in the width and length of my basket (in this case it was 3 pieces by 5 pieces), and started weaving the base pieces together- alternating “over” and “under”. Every once in a while I added glue between pieces of paper to ensure that things wouldn’t slide around while I was working (a little bit goes a long way.)

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Once I had my base woven I used a straight edge to fold all of the woven strips to the center. This made it easier to begin the sides of my basket.

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Using a similar “over and under” method, I wove strips through the existing strips. I secured each piece with a tiny drop of glue, and clipped the pieces together with clothes pins. When I got to the end of a side, I made a fold in the strip I was working with, and began weaving it into the next side. When I reached the end of my weaving strip, I attached it to another loose strip with a drop of glue, then continued weaving until I made it all the way around the basket.

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I repeated this with another strip of paper, weaving in and out along every side of the basket, and securing with glue and clothes pins. Once everything felt dry and stable, I simply trimmed the strips at the top of the weaving, and voila…

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a super simple gift basket made out of recycled materials- sure to brighten someone’s day.

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I have to say I don’t love the look of this basket as much as the rolled paper version- but it took significantly less time, and I think with a little experimentation I could (or you could) make it into something really special.

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Things to try

• Using more, smaller strips of paper for a more intricate texture.
• Using brown kraft paper for a simpler look.
• Weaving at a 45 degree angle, like this project from {nifty thrifty things}
• Finishing the top of the basket a little cleaner, either by covering them with a strip, or by rounding them off.
• Using stitched paper.
• Coming up with some sort of nifty handle.
• Making a lid so it can close like a box.
• Making a huge version that could be used as a fruit basket.

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup #autumn #vegetable
Yesterday was our first day of winter weather here in Portland. We are in the process of moving at the moment, so today I decided to make a batch of my favorite soup to enjoy after a long, cold day of packing and moving boxes. I discovered this recipe years ago and have made it over and over again ever since. It’s my favorite soup to have on a cold winter night (like tonight) with a fresh loaf of crusty bread. The flavors alone will warm you to the bone.

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup #autumn #vegetable
To make this soup, first chop up a sweet potato, onion, three celery sticks and two cloves of garlic. Then heat the olive oil in a large pot and throw everything in. Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup #autumn #vegetable
Next stir in the spices: Two teaspoons of paprika, and a teaspoon of each of turmeric, basil and salt. Then add in a generous pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper plus one bay leaf.

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup #autumn #vegetable
Add in three cups of chicken stock (or veggie stock) and a tablespoon of tamari (or soy sauce). Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup #autumn #vegetable
Add a can of garbanzo beans and diced tomatoes plus one chopped green bell pepper. Let simmer for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread.

Tip: This is a great ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ soup so feel free to add in more veggies. I often like to add in fresh spinach or kale.

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup #autumn #vegetable

 

Gypsy Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion, celery, garlic and sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add in the spices and stir to blend.
  2. Add in the chicken stock and the tamari. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Then add in the bell pepper, garbanzo beans and diced tomatoes. Simmer for another 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

RECIPE: Gypsy Soup #autumn #vegetable

What’s your favorite soup to make on a cold winter day?

DIY: Rolled Paper Gift Basket

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Sometimes the best gift is a collection of small things. I love to put together little sets at the store, and I’ve been looking for a awesome little gift basket that would be special enough to keep.

Since it’s the season of unrequested catalogs, I thought I would use this abundant (and colorful) resource as the primary material for my project. I was inspired by photos of a Mark Montano project to roll the pieces and form the basket out of little paper donuts.

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Supplies I used

• Glossy lightweight catalog pages
• A scrap 1/8 inch strip of chipboard (from a cereal box)
• A pen, and a dowel of two different diameters
• Glue – I used Elmer’s Glue-All for the majority of my gluing, but did have to use some E6000 to repair weak spots in my basket at the end.
• A bowl to use as a template shape for my gift basket

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To begin, I cut the catalog pages into 3 inch and 5 inch strips.

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I wrapped each piece of paper around my chipboard strip, starting at the corner.

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Once I had the strip almost completely rolled up, I applied glue to the last corner, and smoothed it down. Then I pulled the chipboard strip out, and flattened the rolled strip with my fingernail.

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I tried to roll each sheet so that as much solid color as possible showed on the final piece. (A fun puzzle.)

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Once I had a nice stack of rolled pieces, I began making my final donut shaped pieces. I started wrapping the strip around a pen, or dowel; applying a drop of glue near the beginning…

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and a drop at the end to secure the donut. I then smoothed down the tail end, held it closed for a few seconds, and gently slid it off of the pen.

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Using a couple of different widths of paper strip, and a couple of different sized dowels/pens meant that after several rounds of donut rolling I had a nice selection of building blocks for my final basket.


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I am going to admit something here. Since I usually jump into projects without sufficient direction, I have a lot of false starts. It took me way too long to figure out that I should work on the inside of a bowl. Live and learn, and let gravity help.

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This bowl turned out to be the perfect size for the small collection of items I wanted to basket.

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Starting from the bottom, I applied small drops of glue to the edges of my donuts, and began laying them in a single layer in the bowl.

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I started with the whiter donuts, working towards more saturated pieces as I went up.

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Does this make anyone else crave Froot Loops?

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I made sure to put enough glue to hold the pieces together once I removed it from the jig. Once all of my pieces were in place, I let the whole thing dry overnight. Once it was dry, I held the bowl upside-down, gently twisted the inside form to loosen it, and let it fall into my other hand.

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The glue did a relatively good job of holding things together, but there were definitely a couple of weak spots that I had to repair with the heavier duty E6000.

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I love the way the basket looks…but….

It is extremely time consuming, with every little piece requiring multiple steps to form. The end product is worth it, but I was inspired to make a much quicker basket out of the same materials. (I’ll share that with you soon.)

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Things to try

• Making Christmas ornaments out of the donuts.
• Try newspaper, tissue paper, and other materials.
• Try painting or dyeing the final basket.

What would you try?

RECIPE: Sweet Slumber Tea Blend

Sweet Slumber Tea Blend #recipe #diy #herbs
I am a big tea drinker, especially on cold winter days when I want to stay warm. This tea is one of my favorites- a delicious herbal blend of chamomile, peppermint, lavender and roses. I made up a big batch of this loose leaf blend to enjoy this winter and also to give as gifts.

Sweet Slumber Tea Blend #recipe #diy #herbs

To make this blend I first acquired the herbs I wanted for the tea. I always use high-quality, organic herbs purchased from my local apothecary. Mountain Rose is also a great online resource. Then I combined equal parts of the chamomile, peppermint, lavender and rosebuds in a small bowl and stirred to combine.

Sweet Slumber Tea Blend #recipe #diy #herbs

There are tons of creative ways to package tea. You can simply fill a mason jar, or fill your own loose leaf tea bags, tie with some baker’s twine and add a cute tag.

Sweet Slumber Tea Blend #recipe #diy #herbs

Sweet Slumber Tea Blend #recipe #diy #herbs

Labels and tags courtesy of Evermine.com

I can’t wait to try making more of my own tea blends. Anyone have a favorite recipe they’d like to share?

DIY: Herb and Spice Gift Wrap

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my lettering, and a few poor souls have even asked if I teach a class (HA!). I tell everyone the same thing– my lettering has improved over the past year because I’ve been practicing. I know, that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true! I’ve been making signs and chalkboards for the store, lettering in my prints, and wearing through Prismacolors like nobody’s business.

The key, for me, if to cut myself some slack while I’m practicing. Doodling letters is swell, and I take any opportunity to write words in weird ways.

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This wrapping paper is a perfect example. I wanted to come up with a simple way to wrap a couple of small gifts, and went to the (very soggy) garden for inspiration. The remaining herbs were so pungent and gorgeous that I decided to use them as accents on a basic brown paper wrapping.

The whole thing’s pretty simple, and I’m sure you could come up with something even more special. The point is, I was able to mess around with letters and words without feeling too self-conscious. It’s just wrapping paper, and the herbs take center stage.

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For the second gift, I made a tall bag with a few materials, and I thought I’d share my process.

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Supplies I Used

• Plain brown kraft paper – you could also repurpose a grocery bag.
• Fresh herbs from the garden
• White Prismacolor Pencil
• Flour & water to form a paste. You can also use glue, of course!
• Scissors
• Pencil
• A can of spray paint as a base form

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First I traced the base of the can to form the bottom of my bag…

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and cut out the circle, about 1/4 inch inside my line.

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I then measured the can and cut out a piece of paper for the main part of the bag, leaving myself about 2 inches of extra height to wrap along the bottom and enough width to cover the whole can with a little overlap.

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I made a fold at that 2 inch mark, and cut a little fringe into that end (the bottom.) You’ll see why in a second.

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I used my trusty white pencil to doodle words all over the paper.

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I’ve started using a flour paste for a lot of paper projects, lately. Here I used about equal parts water and flour, mixed well, and applied with a cheap paintbrush.

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I wrapped the paper around my spray paint can and painted both edges with my paste…

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then began folding the fringe pieces down. Once those were down I painted them, and the round bottom piece with paste…

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applied like so, and left to dry.

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After it was completely dry (a few hours later) I trimmed the top of the bag, and filled it with my gift, and a little tissue paper.

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Simple directions for a unique bag- and a great way to work on those lettering skills.

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Are you inspired by herbs, like I am? Don’t forget to share you spice & herb work with us for our November DIY Challenge! We’d love to see what you think up.

(You know, keep life spicy.)