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Lavender Wreaths

What to do when the lavender is in full bloom? It’s time to make wreaths!

Wrap bundles of lavender tightly with florist wire. Overlap each bundle to cover the wire from the previous one.
A tight wrap keeps the bundles intact as the stems dry and shrink.
All done!

Lady’s Bedstraw Dye

I planted this from seed a few year’s ago and harvested some recently. Planting it in a pot makes it easy to get all the roots.

I soaked the roots then rinsed out the dirt.
Next came simmering at low heat to get a deep color.
Here’s how the color differs depending on the pH level.

Guyabate (Guava Paste)

My daughter has a guava tree with a huge amount of fruit this year so we made guyabate! It naturally has a lot of pectin so no need to add more.

So much fruit!
Slice the guava.
Scoop out the seeds in the center of the fruit and soak in water. Strain out the liquid and add to the cut up fruit.
Cut up fruit and put in a pan or crock pot with the liquid drained from the seeds. Cook until soft.
Blend fruit and put in pan with equal amounts of purée and sugar. Stir and cook until the liquid thickens and sheets off a spoon. You can also put a drop on a cold plate and see if it will easily lift off. It takes a while to cook down and reach this stage.
Once it’s thickened take it off the heat and beat it for 10 minutes. This reduces crystal formation and makes for a smoother, less grainy paste.
Pour into a pan lined with wax paper and let sit for 24 hours.
Enjoy!
We also tried making some in a crock pot. It turned this lovely color.

Plant Dyed Embroidery Thread

My main COVID craft has been embroidery so I ordered some silk thread and have been playing around with different color blends.

The great thing about dyeing small batches of embroidery thread is you just need a small amount of material.

I ordered this silk.
Walnut and indigo are colorfast but the beet and dahlia will fade over time.
I like using the small squares for lavender sachets.

Preserved Limes

I’m visiting my daughter and she has limes in her garden!

It’s December and the limes are ripe.
Rock salt
Bay leaves
Layer sliced fruit with salt and bay leaves.
Fill to top then add juice until everything is covered with salty liquid.
Agitate jars every few days. Preserved slices will be ready in about a month. Be sure fruit stays submerged. You may need to weight it down.

Fun with Cable Knitting

Cable knitting is, if possible, even more addictive than Fair Isle patterns.  Best of all it’s pretty easy to do if you have the right tools and some good patterns.  I like using cables on things like mittens and fingerless gloves as it makes them much easier to fit on a variety of hand sizes.

I like these needles for holding the stitches to be cabled.

I like these needles for holding the stitches to be cabled.

Cable knitting mittens help them fit better.

Cable knitting mittens help them fit better.

Cables are great for fingerless gloves.

Cables are great for fingerless gloves.

More intricate cables can be used for small bags.

More intricate cables can be used for small bags.

Here’s a fun site on the basics of cable knitting.

Do you have patterns you love?  Comment here or on Facebook and I will post them!

Pressed Flowers

I love to press flowers and leaves then use them on cards or on stationery.  My favorite plants to press are Johnny jump ups, Bleeding heart and variegated hops but almost any thin flower will do.

Pansies hold their color when dried.

Pansies hold their color when dried.

If you want something like calendula then you need to press the petals separately; if you try and dry the whole flower together the center often rots.

These all press well.

These all press well.

If you still have old phone books around they are ideal for this job.  If not you can use newspaper in between book pages with more books on top to add weight.

Try pressing something unusual!  Sometimes colors will fade.

Try pressing something unusual! Sometimes colors will fade.

Some flowers dry white and others get a little brown.

Some flowers dry white and others get a little brown.


Here is a nice example from the She Knows blog of what you can do with the flowers when dry.

Simple but pretty.

Simple but pretty.

Grapevine Wreaths

It’s a wee bit early to be pruning grapes but I wanted to neaten up the front yard so trimmed off the long, ropy vines.

Using these vines to make wreaths is easy and they turn out great.

First choose the vines you want to use and trim off the side twigs. For a more rustic look, leave the tendrils on.

First choose the vines you want to use and trim off the side twigs. For a more rustic look, leave the tendrils on.

These are my favorite pruners.

These are my favorite pruners.

Wrap the vines around and twist in the ends. Trim off anything that sticks out.

Wrap the vines around and twist in the ends. Trim off anything that sticks out.

Here are three finished wreath. You can use these as is or as a base for baskets.

Here are three finished wreath. You can use these as is or as a base for baskets.

Great activity for a frosty, sunny day!

Great activity for a frosty, sunny day!

Calendula Cream

I love giving this cream during the holidays. If you still have flowers blooming or you dried some over the summer here is how to make this easy gift!

Drain the oil. I added in dried lavender with the calendula petals.

Put the oil in a bowl in a pan of hot water. To get a thick cream add one ounce of beeswax to one cup of oil.

Pour into a container with a cover and enjoy!

Stone Necklaces

This post is one of the most popular on the site. Over the years I have made necklaces from stones collected on both coasts and they remind me of the trips.

Here are step by step instructions for making necklaces from small stones.

A few tools can make the work go quickly.

To start you will need a few basic tools such as needle-nosed pliers, wire cutters and if you use overlapping jump rings, a tool for separating the pieces of wire.

You can use lovely sterling silver wire or a less expensive metal.

You will also need wire, something to string the rock on and some items to make a closure for the necklace.  (If you want to be really rustic you can just tie the ends.)

A little cooking oil makes the rocks gleam and look more beautiful.

Choose your rock.  Beaches, lakes and your very own backyard are all good places to find good stones.  Unless you have really strong neck muscles keep the rock on the small side.

With many different sizes of stones you can guess on the wire and it will fit one of your stones.

Next cut two pieces of wire; one long and one short.  Double over the long piece to make a loop and line up the shorter piece next to it.  This loop will be what you use to hang the necklace.

Almost there!

Next take thinner wire and wrap it around the pieces of wire.  Use the needle nosed pliers to crimp the wires down then trim them with the sharp ends all on one side; these will go against the rock so they won’t catch on clothing.

A toothpick can make the pulling apart of the wires easier.

Pull pieces of the wire out to make a basket to hold the stone in place.

Wiggle the rock to be sure you are fitting it well.

Wrap the wire around the rock and adjust it so the rock is held firmly in place.

Smooth down the wire around the stone.
Be sure to make the loop big enough to feed your cord through.

Trim all the ends of the wire next to the loop except for the really long one.

A river stone transformed.

Wrap the ends to keep them in place; adjust the wire on the rock so it looks good and finish wrapping the wire ends.

All set!

Take cord or leather and make something to string the rock on.

Enjoy!