TODAY: Creative Ways To Heal A Broken Heart

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I recently went through a painful breakup with my boyfriend of five years. It was the longest relationship I’ve ever had and extremely heartbreaking to let go of and accept its end. Coming away from the relationship feeling more heartbroken and emotionally wounded than I’ve ever felt before has prompted me to really commit myself to the process of healing. I know that I don’t want to stay living in my past, thinking about “what might have been”. I want to accept all that’s happened, reflect on the lessons I’ve learned and look forward to the future. I want to heal my heart so that it can reopen fully to new relationships and discover deeper connections with others.

One of the first things I did after the shock of the breakup wore off was go to my local bookstore and pick up a copy of the book, How to Survive the Loss of a Love. I stared at the relationship self help aisle for a long time, overwhelmed by the amount of weird relationship books. I flipped through books like The Breakup Bible and others but decided I wasn’t really interested in reading stories about other people’s horrendous breakups. What I wanted was some simple words of encouragement and a flexible guide to help me through the healing process. Originally published back in 1976, How to Survive the Loss of a Love walks you through the stages of recovery from a loss which are: survival (shock/denial/numbness), healing (fear/anger/depression) and growth (understanding/acceptance/ moving on), and then goes through a sort of checklist with suggestions, reassurances, and resources.

Now that I’m in the healing stage of recovery, I’m learning more and more about what it actually means to heal. For me, it means giving myself time to mourn the loss. My instinct is to push away any feelings of sadness, pain, and anger. But pushing those emotions away for me means holding them in and I’ve learned the hard way what can happen to your body over time if you hold that kind of negativity inside. So instead I’m trying to be with my pain now. To really feel it and allow it to pass through me and be released rather than compartmentalized and ignored.

Creative Ways To Heal A Broken Heart

Being with my pain now has also made me learn to experience the loss differently. At first feeling the fear, anger, desolation and pain would completely overtake me and become too overwhelming to experience. So I’ve learned how to mentally step out of my feelings and simply be with them like I would a close friend, allowing the tears and emotions to flow but focusing on my body and breathing, and telling myself, “You’re OK”, “Everything is going to be OK”.

The ability to self soothe is an extremely valuable skill to have especially when recovering from a loss. Only you can heal yourself and knowing that you have the ability to calm and comfort yourself without having to rely on others is extremely important. You might find your friends and family becoming impatient with your healing process, so it’s important to be able to soothe yourself and stay on track in your healing process without relying on help from others.

Creative Ways To Heal A Broken Heart

There are lots of ways you can self soothe when healing from a loss. Here are some of my favorite creative activities that help to ground me, calm my nerves, and relax:

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

Affirm Yourself.

Combating negative self-talk is so important when healing. We all have moments of feeling unloved, unloveable, fearing that we’ll forever be alone, and the pain will never end. Whenever negative thoughts like that start to creep in I make sure to acknowledge them and then counter them by telling myself, “I am loved and lovable”, “I will recover and things will get better”, “I will find new love”. Make your own cute affirmation cards to carry in your wallet or purse and post in little places around your home and workspace to remind you to think positively.

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Art Journaling.

Express your feelings through Art Journaling or try Soul Collage. Art journaling has been a favorite activity of mine since high school. These days I turn to my art journal whenever I feel like I need to reconnect with my true self. Allowing my intuition to cut, paste, paint, draw, and write helps me to process my emotions and release them into the pages. When working in my art journal I try not to judge or worry about what my finished pages will look like. The focus for me has always been on  the process so instead I draw my attention to color and shape, to my paint or scissors and let my intuition guide me.

Creative Ways To Heal A Broken Heart

Coloring Books.

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now and studies have even shown that coloring is like a form of meditation. So play some soothing tunes, get out your box of markers and colored pencils and spend an evening coloring (and sipping a glass of wine).

Cleanse your space.

Clearing out my closet and sorting through and getting rid of stuff was one of the first things I did after my breakup. I rearranged my entire living room and redecorated my bedroom so that my space felt like the “new me”. I also recommend smudging your space to help get rid of any lingering negative energies that might be stagnant in your house. If you’re curious to know more about the art of smudging, check out this article I wrote for Molly Muriel.

DIY: Jersey Macrame Hanging Planter #craft #home #decor

Get a new houseplant.

After I finished cleansing my space, I shopped for a few new houseplants to give my home some fresh energy. Being close to nature is extremely cathartic for the body, mind and spirit. Bringing nature into your home is an easy way to get creative too with decorative planters and arrangements. Check out a few things I’ve made recently like a Macrame Plant Hanger and Mini Crystal + Succulent Garden.

DIY: Culinary Herb Wreath

Start an herb garden.

Herb gardening is another new hobby of mine and I love that it can be done both indoors and outdoors. Not only has watering and caring for my herb garden become a relaxing part of my daily routine, I also have have fun finding creative ways to harvest the herbs both in the kitchen and in the craft studio. A few of my most recent projects were making an Herb Wreath and also a batch of Legendary Four Thieves Vinegar

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden

Crystal Healing.

This might sound a little too woo-woo for some of you, but I’ve found having a few healing stones and crystals to be extremely soothing. Each stone has a metaphysical quality that relates to the chakras and a special vibration or resonance that gives them the ability to restore stability and balance the body’s energy systems. I recently went to my local rock shop and treated myself to a handful of crystals specifically for healing the heart chakra. I like to choose one stone to carry with me and draw my attention to it throughout the day. You can also place a few stones near your bed or even under your pillow when you go to sleep at night.

Use Color To Uplift Your Spirit.

Color can have a big impact on our general mood. Uplift your spirit by surrounding yourself in cheerful colors through the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the room you spend most of your time in, etc. Red, orange, yellow and pastel colors are all in the “up” spectrum of colors. Green is also a great choice because it is soothing and promotes healing and growth.

A few more suggestions:

  • Keep a journal. If you find yourself stewing in pain or anger or any sort of negative emotion, write it all down in your journal. This can help to get things out of your mind, set them in order and release them.
  • Pamper yourself. If you have a broken leg or are hospitalized, friends and family bring you flowers, send baskets of fruit, and you get to lie in bed all day reading and watching TV. In short, you are pampered. If you have a broken heart, that’s not the case. You are still expected to fulfill your obligations and show up for work with the same energy and efficiency you normally have. So what do you do when the world does not accept the fact that emotional pain not only hurts, but can be debilitating? Pamper yourself! Take a hot bath, get a massage, buy yourself a beautiful new book or magazine, treat yourself to crazy delicious chocolate fudge ice cream, buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.
  • Make plans. Sometimes there’s nothing worse than sitting at home by yourself on a Saturday night. So call up your friends and/or family. Reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with and plan to do something fun together.
  • Let yourself heal fully. If you can, don’t take on any new responsibilities. Don’t get involved in an all-consuming passionate relationship or start any big projects for a while. Let your healing process run its course. Just follow your daily routine and let yourself heal.

 

RECIPE: Scrap Veggie Broth to Perfect Any Recipe


Maybe everyone knows to make their own veggie broth. I didn’t until a couple of years ago when I had a pile of veggie scraps and an aha moment. After a couple of quick searches, I decided to toss everything in the slow cooker and see what happened.

AMAZING happened. I ended up with a complex  unique broth that I was eager to cook with.

Since then I’ve saved almost all my veggie and fruit scraps in a bag in the freezer, and when it gets full it gets turned into what I lovingly call “trash soup”.

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RECIPE: Scrap Veggie Broth in a slowcooker
 
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This simple veggie broth will use up all your fruit and vegetable scraps, and make your next meal that much better.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 Tsp. Salt (to Taste)
  • A Variety of Raw Vegetable Scraps*
  • You can use skins, scraps, and leftover: Zucchini, Greens, Spinach, Okra, Apples, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Artichoke, Peas, Green Beans, Onions, Cabbage, Broccoli, Leeks, Garlic, Peppers, Carrot, Mushroom Stems, Herbs…. almost anything.
Instructions
  1. *Make sure to only use ingredients that you COULD eat fresh. Nothing dirty, slimy, moldy, etc. A little soft is fine. The key to the best broth is variety. Try not to use too much of anything with a strong flavor- but remember that this is a low pressure process. If it doesn't turn out, no big deal!
  2. Put all your scraps in a slow cooker and cover with water.
  3. Sprinkle salt over the mixture and mix it slightly with a spoon.
  4. Put crock pot on "low" and leave overnight– 10-20 hours– checking occasionally for taste and to stir gently.
  5. Ladle broth over a strainer to separate out vegetable scraps and broth.
  6. OPTIONAL: Simmer the broth on Med/High to condense the soup for freezing. Allow to cool completely before placing in a container or ziplock bag, and freeze until you're ready. (Make sure to label your container with tasting notes and a date.)

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For my broth today, I had a wide variety of veggies. From highest to lowest volume I used: zucchini, brussel sprout greens, tomatoes, onion, okra, mushroom stems, lemon rind, apple, bell pepper, and basil stems.


Make sure your scraps are clean and in relatively small pieces, then dump them into a medium crock pot,

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and cover them with water.

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Add about a teaspoon of salt (to taste) to the water.

Cover the crock pot, set it on “low” and let it do its thing through the evening and overnight. (It’s good to taste the broth, and stir occasionally to make sure everything is going well. If it starts to get bitter you can either stop the process, or give it some more time to possible cook itself out.)

After about 10-20 hours your concoction will look more like this:

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and will smell up your whole home in a delicious way. Use a ladle to spoon out the broth over a strainer…

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to separate out the broth and veggie chunks. Throw those depleted veggie scraps in the compost and look at what you’ve made!

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Beautiful, complex, broth– a perfect way to start almost any recipe.

Optional: If you want to save the broth for another day, you might find it useful to condense and freeze it. To do this, put your broth in a small pot and simmer on medium-high under a fan.

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Excess water will be released as steam, and after a while you’ll have a thicker, darker condensed broth. (This process can take some time, so I usually plan to do dishes, cleaning, or other kitchen activities while I wait.) Take the pan off the heat.  As your broth is cooling, do a final tasting and label your container (or ziplock bag) with tasting notes and a date.

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Then simply pour the cool broth into your container and freeze it for the perfect recipe. The more broths you make, the more you’ll notice differences in their flavor- making store bought broth seem ludicrous!

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We love adding the broths to everything we cook. It will kick up anything from soup, to sauces, to quinoa, and make you smile. (Promise.)

What I’ve Learned

•I’ve said it before, but variety is really key here. I usually leave a small collection of scraps in my freezer bag for the next broth, rather than using too much of one flavor.
•You may be an onion and garlic maniac, but don’t make a broth out of just those. Other veggies are necessary to cut the bitterness of over-extracted onions. Trust me.
•Good advice from a friend- “If the broth doesn’t taste good, throw it away. Don’t let it ruin a meal.” If your broth turns out weird or bitter, it’s not the end of the world. Try again next time!
•Try out a parmesan rind sometime, but otherwise avoid oils.
•Mellow fruits (like apples) make for a carmelly broth that would be lovely in a lot of dishes. Bolder fruits (cherries, berries, citrus) are best used in very small quantities.
•Some vegetables are stronger than others- broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage can take over a broth completely. I don’t mind, but maybe you do?
•Yum.

DIY: Culinary Herb Wreath

DIY: Culinary Herb Wreath

Herb gardening has become one of my favorite hobbies and this year I’m growing over 25 different types of herbs! There’s nothing better than a backyard garden full of fragrant edible plants. Now that it’s harvest season I’ve been researching ways to use them. I mainly use fresh herbs in cooking. Last year I made up a batch of yummy oregano pesto. I plan to make my own herbal vinegar and infused olive oils this year, but first I wanted to try something completely new- I made a gorgeous culinary herb wreath!

Not only was it fun choosing and harvesting the herbs I chose to use in my wreath, I also love that once the wreath has dried it becomes both decorative and functional. Find a spot in your kitchen (near the stove) to hang an herb wreath and all you have to do is snip off a few sprigs here and there to add to your cooking!

DIY: Culinary Herb Wreath

Read the Tutorial

You can find the full tutorial and make your own herb wreath by visiting my guest post over at Garden Therapy!

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden
Crystals and succulents have become some of my latest obsessions. Both are naturally beautiful and when put together make for a breathtaking combination. This has sparked my latest project- making my own mini crystal + succulent garden. I decided to start small with this project and hope to add to it and create larger arrangements as I collect more crystals and succulents. I recommend that you trust your gut with this project and simply follow your intuition when selecting and placing your succulents and crystals.

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden

Supplies Needed

• Succulent plants
• Crystals
• Planter
• Potting Soil

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden

First select your succulents and begin visualizing an arrangement within your planter. When you are ready, fill your planter about half way with potting soil and begin placing each succulent into the pot, filling in with more soil where necessary.

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden

Next, gather your crystals and begin placing them around your succulents. Remember to let your intuition be your guide and arrange your crystals in a way that feels meaningful to you.

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden
DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden

Once you’ve finished, find a sunny spot in your home for your mini crystal succulent garden to glisten and grow.

DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden
DIY: Mini Crystal Succulent Garden

DIY: Convertible Harvest Apron / Produce Bag

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There’re still a million and a half things to do around here, but the garden has been calling. (Literally. The robins are LOUD.)

More often than not I find myself walking around with a hose and eating vegetables right off the plants like an animal; but the harvests are getting to be too big for me to eat immediately, too unwieldy to juggle in my hands, and while my first instinct is to bundle them up in my skirt I’m not too excited about flashing the neighbors.

All of this to explain why I decided to turn a half a yard of cotton material and some bias tape into a harvest apron- not just an apron, but an apron that converts to a drawstring produce bag.

For those of you who like to reverse engineer projects (and improve them!) the concept is simple. It’s a rectangular drawstring bag with one string that’s large enough to tie around your waist. For the rest of you who want to see what I did, follow along!

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Supplies

• 1/2 yard of printed cotton fabric. (18 inches x 45 inches wide, typically.)
• At least 3 yards of a durable, sewable trim to use as a drawstring and tie. I used Double Wide Bias Tape from Wrights.
• Sewing machine (or a needle and thread if you’re handy)
• Complementary thread and bobbin
• Ruler
• Straight pens
• Fabric Scissors
• Pinking Shears (optional).

Tips

• Remember to take it slow, and maybe start with a piece of material that you’re not in love with. The second one will go faster/easier.
• This project will hide a bunch of mistakes, so don’t fret!
• I used pinking shears to keep my edges from fraying. If you prefer, you can ignore all the steps that use the pinking shears and instead do a zig zag stitch down the fraying edge of the material. (This post on Craftsy is quite helpful.)
• Whenever you get to the end of a line of stitches, always go backwards and forwards on the spot with a few stitches to tie off the ends.
• A seam ripper is always useful if you’re as prone to mistakes as I am.
• An iron is also useful, if you have one handy. I use it to iron fabric flat, to fold seams over, and sometime I just push the steam button to listen to the hiss.

Step 1 – Making the Pocket

To begin, you will cut or tear the 18″x45″ piece of material down the fold so that you have two pieces of 18″x22.5″. You will be stitching the edges to form something almost like a pillow case, leaving one of the 22.5″ sides open (this will be the top of your pocket.) To remind myself which way went up, I used the pinking shears to trim one of the 22.5″ sides of each piece of material.

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Lay the two pieces together, with the right sides in. From your pinked “top” measure down 3 inches and put a bright pin or mark to show that your stitches will end here. (Don’t stitch above the markers.)

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Now sew a straight stitch 1/2 inch starting at your marker and going down to the bottom of the bag, across the bottom, and back up the other side (stopping 3″ below the top of the bag.)

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Voila! Pocket made!

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Now trim the other sides with your pinking shears to stop fraying.

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Step 2 – Drawstring Casing

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This first step is a little finicky– the goal is to fold under the raw edge of the fabric so it’s out of the way of the drawstring casing. First, fold back your unstitched raw edge (the 3″  from the top on each side we skipped before) and pin flat. 

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Use a zig-zag or straight stitch to permanently pin down that edge on each edge of the flap (leaving the flaps open.  One side shown open below.)

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Now for the drawstring casing, itself. Fold each open flap backwards to make a 1.5″ hem. Pin each side separately so that the pocket remains open.

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Run a straight stitch around the bottom of each flap, about 0.5″ from the pinked edge.

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Then run a second straight stitch approximately 0.5″ from the top of each side. The space between those stitches is where the drawstring will run.

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Step 3 – Drawstrings and Ties

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Cut your drawstring material into the following 3 pieces:
• Apron Tie: Wrap the string around your waist, add 12-18″ to your measurement and cut.
• Short Drawstring: Measure one piece that is 24″ to act as your other drawstring.
• Wrist Loop: The final piece will be a loop that you can use around your wrist to hold open your apron. I used about 12″ for my loop, but you may want to make yours longer or shorter (or omit this step, if you want!)

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For your wrist loop, cross the ends, and stitch to the middle of one of the open sides. (Make sure to stick above or below the drawstring casing area.

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The side with your loop will now be the front of your apron. Use a large safety pin to feed the 24″ piece through the casing on this side. Repeat with the long piece, through the casing on the other side.

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Fold over and stitch each of the four ends to form a 1.5″ loop. If you have a trim that will fray at the ends, it’s a good idea to do a tight zig-zag here to limit the fray over time.

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To keep your short drawstring from disappearing into the casing, feed the long piece through the loops on each side.

Trim all your little threads, and you’re ready to harvest!

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Tie the long tie at your natural waist, and get into the garden!

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Use the wrist loop when you need to hold open the apron, but keep your hands free. (Especially handy when you’re picking tricky berries.)

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When you’re ready to go in, untie the apron and pull the drawstrings for an instant produce bag.

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When the bag gets just too dirty, throw it into the wash on hot. (Turn the bag inside out to get rid of those stubborn bits of dirt.)

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Things to Try

• Add a pocket for a garden knife or shears.
• Add vintage cotton trim to make it even more vintage-girly.
• Add a bib and neck strap – more pockets?

Any suggestions? Do you have a favorite garden project you’re rocking this summer?

RECIPE: Mango Salsa With Garden Cilantro

RECIPE: Mango Salsa with Garden Cilantro #homegrown

Mango salsa is one of my all-time favorite dishes to make. Loading up a bowl of it with chips is one of my favorite summer-time meals. This year I planted some cilantro seeds in my garden and couldn’t wait to harvest it and try out a recipe from Doreen Shababy’s book, The Wild & Weedy Apothecary. Doreen’s book is a wonderful resource for any budding herbalist as it’s bursting with herbal recipes and remedies.

RECIPE: Mango Salsa with Garden Cilantro

About growing cilantro…

This was my second attempt at growing cilantro from seed. Cilantro can be a little tricky as it tends to bolt (spring up flowers) rather quickly, especially in hot weather. Cilantro thrives is cool, moist weather, so with our recent heat wave here in the Pacific Northwest there was nothing I could do to prevent my cilantro from sending up it’s long, spindly flowers. So instead of fretting over it, I just planting some new seeds to begin another crop.

Some growing tips:

– For a continuous crop all season long, plant cilantro seeds every two weeks.
– Plant in a container at least 18 inches wide and 8-10 inches deep.
– Follow the planting instructions on your seed packet. Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.
– Place containers in full sun, or if you live in a hot climate, light shade.
– Harvest at least weekly to keep leaves coming.

RECIPE: Mango Salsa with Garden Cilantro

Now on to the salsa recipe. I made up a double batch so that I could take some to a friend’s birthday party and save some for myself 🙂

Mango Salsa With Garden Cilantro
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: Approx. 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe mangos, ripe, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (remove seeds if you like it mild)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Cayenne pepper, optional
  • Salt, optional
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop up the mangos (if you've never cut open a mango before, the pit is large, long and flat, so you basically cut around the pit). Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Then taste and add a dash of cayenne and salt if needed.

RECIPE: Mango Salsa with Garden Cilantro

Serve this yummy salsa as an appetizer with chips, over fish or shrimp tacos, or even use it to garnish chicken dishes.

RECIPE: Mango Salsa with Garden Cilantro

DIY: Simple Handmade Paper Heart Cards with Flower Seeds Inside

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The sun has made a couple of appearances, and when the sun comes out all I want to do is make paper. Why fight it?

I decided to take the opportunity to make a bunch of plantable heart cards, using flower seeds and a simple pour-over paper making method (instead of my usual dip method featured here and here.) The pour-over method uses paper scraps and things that you probably have around the house; making this an awesome, kid-friendly, activity for a sunny afternoon.
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Pour-over Paper Making Supplies

• Shredded scrap paper Mix your favorite color and white paper for the best results. You can use a shredder, scissors, or your hands to tear the paper into manageable bits.
• Smallish flower seeds I felt several packets of seeds before settling on a combination of chamomile, viola, and alyssum seeds. You can also give it a cooking theme by using tiny herb seeds.
• A “Deckle”- This will be the template for your sheet of paper. I used an inexpensive, wood, heart-shaped picture frame that I picked up at the craft store.
• 2 screens, slightly larger than your deckle- I used small pieces of window screen material from the hardware store. I have also had some luck with sheer curtain material and other porous fabrics.
• A blender
• A large bowl (or two)
• A wire cooling rack for support
• A rectangular cake pan to catch the runoff.
• A sponge or absorbent rag
• A couple of flat absorbent rags larger than your intended paper size.

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Step 1: Making Paper Pulp

To make the pulp for your paper, first soak the shredded paper in water for a little bit. Typically I will dunk them all in water while I’m getting all my supplies together. Once they are saturated put a handful into your blender, with about twice that amount of water.

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Then pulse your blender to pulverize the paper pulp. (If you feel like your blender is having trouble, add more water to your mix. The paper pulp quickly becomes thick sludge that’s harder to cut through. It’s better to err on the side of too much water.) When your mix is starting to look like a disgusting smoothie, open it up and take a look at the mix. I like to stop when the mix is a little bit chunky, but mostly liquified.

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Step 2: Preparing your Mould

Stack the cooling rack, screen, and deckle on top of your cake pan. This is where you’ll be pouring your pulp in a minute.

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Step 3: Mixing in the wildflower seeds.

Transfer your pulp from the blender to a pouring bowl. You will be using several batches of pulp, so pour just a little bit of your flower seed into the bowl and stir gently with your fingers.

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Step 4: Pouring the Pulp

Slowly pour your pulp mixture into the deckle. The water from the pulp will run through the screen and leave you with saturated paper fibers in the shape of your deckle.

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Fill the space completely by pouring, and (if needed) gently pushing the pulp into the corners of the frame with your finger.

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Very gently, lift the deckle directly up towards the ceiling. (A note: One of the best parts about paper-making is that almost any mess up can be fixed by dumping the sheet back into the pulpy water, breaking it up with your hand, and starting over again. So if your shape doesn’t look right, or your get a tear or a bubble, just dump it back in and try again!) You will have a nice pile of wet paper mess.

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Step 5: Drying the Paper

The final bits are all about drying the paper. Although much of the water falls through while you’re pouring, the fibers hold on to a lot of moisture. First, place your second piece of screen on top of the pulp and absorb as much of the water as you can by pressing gently with a sponge. This will flatten the pulp into something that looks more like a sheet of paper. (You can wring the sponge out into your pulp bowl, and dump the excess water in there that runs into your cake pan.)

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The sheet is still delicate at this point.
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Transfer it to a flat absorbent rag by flipping the whole screen onto the rag, and gently peeling back just the screen.

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Next, place another rag on top, and press the paper gently with your fingers or a rolling-pin. You should start to see water in the shape of your card.

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Use the same flipping method to transfer your sheet onto a surface that it can remain on to air dry. (I like to cover my dining table with bath towels.) Once you’re done making paper, you can dump the remaining pulp and water outside.

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See! Paper!

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An army of plantable paper hearts!

Usually the paper will dry overnight, but may take a little more time in a damp or cold room. Once they are completely dry, you can decorate them however you please.

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Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I decided to use one of my sheets as a card. I used the seed packets as inspiration and wrote a little message on the back, including directions for planting the card.

When you’re ready to toss out this card, plant it instead! It has a mix of viola, alyssum, and chamomile seeds– just cover with a little soil, water, and you might find yourself  with a few new blooms.

Since every card needs an envelope, I decided to make a simple one from a paper grocery bag.

Simple Envelope Supplies

• A paper bag
• Your handmade paper deckle
• A Pencil
• A Ruler
• Scissors or craft knife
• Glue

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Step 1

Open up the paper bag by cutting until you have a flat sheet. Place the deckle in the center and trace the inside with your pencil.

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Step 2

To make your envelope guide, draw a box around your deckle shape, leaving about a quarter of an inch of space on each side. Extend the lines out from the box (as shown above).

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Step 3

Cut the corner portions out of the form you drew, leaving a plus sign shape with your heart-shape in the center. Fold along each of the straight lines, and trim the flaps so that they overlap about a half an inch.

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Step 4

Fold in one of the side flaps, then apply glue to the other side flap, fold it over, and do the same with the bottom flap.

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You should have the perfect envelope for your card! Just slip it in, seal the last flap and send it to somebody special. (Remember that oddly shaped envelopes require more postage. Check with your post office for more details.)

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I’m really happy with the way my card turned out, and glad that I was able to come up with another way to recycle materials I had already.

Now I have a nice stack of paper hearts packed full of flower seeds- what should I do with the rest of them?

 

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.)

RECIPE: Vegan Zucchini and Berry Crumble + Giveaway Winner!

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You probably won’t believe me when I say that a zucchini can taste just like an apple. It’s true!

We’ve had another bumper crop of squash this year, and we’ve had to get clever with recipes. When this happened last year I had the mad idea of cooking a zucchini like an apple, and sure enough, I’m not the first one to do so. I added it to my “Revenge Blackberry Crumble” recipe and I haven’t gone back. (I’ve included some handy tricks at the bottom of the recipe.)

Vegan Zucchini & Berry Crumble
 
Prep time
Cook time
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This delicious crumble is a quick, easy and sweet way to use those extra zucchini and berries. Plus it's vegan!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of zucchini, deseeded, skinned & sliced into small pieces (Instructions included)
  • ½ cup of lemon juice
  • 4 cups of blackberries (or berry of choice)
  • 1 cup of granulated raw cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons of orange zest
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cup granola
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup cold margerine, cut onto small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Peel zucchini, cut open long-wise and scoop out seeds. Slice zucchini in small, apple slice sized pieces.
  3. Place zucchini slices in a large mixing bowl and cover with lemon juice.
  4. Add the berries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, zest, and juice to the zucchini mixture, and mix well with a large spoon.
  5. Pour into a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish.
  6. In another mixing bowl, combine next 6 ingredients with hands until crumbly.
  7. Place granola mixture on top of fruit, making a thin layer across the whole pan.
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the mixture begins to bubble up around the crust.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Great with any version of ice cream.

Prep Tips

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The slight bitterness of a zucchini seems to come from the seeds and peel. You can use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to take care of the outside, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds in the center. Then you have a blank slate to cook with.

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I am a sucker for orange zest. I found that I often had every ingredient I needed EXCEPT an orange for zesting. Now I zest any orange that comes through the door, fold the zest lightly in foil or plastic wrap and freeze until I have a recipe that needs it.

Similarly, you can freeze blackberries when you have too many. Lay them out on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When they are completely frozen (after a day or so) dump them into a ziplock or container and freeze until you’re ready to use them.

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It’s often just as easy to make something vegan, and why not when you will be sharing it with others? You can substitute butter if you’d prefer.

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Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

THE GIVEAWAY WINNER!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the September giveaway. We loved hearing about your recent adventures

Now without further ado, the winner is…. ALAINE!! Congrats Alaine!

DIY: Pressed Herb Candles

DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade

This summer I’ve fallen in love with growing fresh herbs in my garden and finding creative ways to harvest and use them. My favorite herb by far has been lavender. I’ve made my own eye pillows and sachets, and even lavender lemonade and cookies. Now that it’s officially fall, I’m still finding ways to keep my lavender-love going. Inspired by this post from the Free People Blog, I decided to make my own Pressed Herb Candles using lavender and chocolate mint from my garden.

DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade

Since the pressed herbs are more for decoration rather than scent, I added in my favorite essential oil, Lavandin (a cross between true lavender and spike lavender). I can’t get over how beautiful these candles turned out and I love filling my home with the sweet scent of lavender even after summer has ended.

Supplies Needed:

• Glass jars
• 1 block of beeswax (I used 1 1/2 blocks to make two candles)
• Wick
• Pressed flowers or herbs (100% dry)
• Clean empty tin can and a saucepan
• 1 old paintbrush (you can throw away afterwards)
• An old knife
• Cutting board

DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade

TIP: Make sure you use the correct size wick for your jar! If you don’t your candle won’t burn properly (I learned this the hard way). Be sure to ask someone when you are buying the wick to advise you on the correct size.

DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade

For full instructions, visit the Free People Blog.

DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade
DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade
DIY: Pressed Herb Candles #gift #handmade