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.


Dyeing with Fresh Indigo

It’s easy!

Pick Indigo leaves before the plant blooms.

Sprinkle with salt and massage leaves. You may need to add a little water.

Massage in the cloth or yarn you want to dye and let it sit for 30-60 minutes.

Here’s the rinsed yarn.

I like this teal colored silk!

Put the plucked stems in water and they will root. Indigo makes a nice houseplant or you can plant outside in warm weather.

Calendula Cream

Calendula’s blooming so it’s time to make soothing cream.

Soak the dried flowers in a cup of olive oil for a couple of weeks. To speed up the process the oil and flowers can be gently heated for an hour.

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!

Now that you have dried herbs making your own blends is easy! These make great gifts as well as stepping up the flavor of your own dishes.



Here are some of my favorite blends:

Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence usually contains basil, bay leaf, marjoram, rosemary, summer savory and lots of thyme. Lavender can be included too but don’t add too much as it’s pretty strong.  Here is a base recipe to start with but feel free to play around to get the flavor you like.  If you don’t have all of these herbs it’s fine to leave some out.

  • 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 Tablespoon dried summer savory
  • 2 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender flowers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ Tablespoon dried rosemary


Rub for Grilling

  • 3 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon dried savory
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried fennel
  • 1 bay leaf


Italian Seasoning

This tastes great in spaghetti sauce, on pizza or in salad dressings.

  • 4 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic, (you can leave this out and use fresh instead when it’s time to cook)
  • 1 bay leaf

You can put these blends into small jam jars or metal containers.  Keeping air and light out will help the flavors stay bright.



What’s crunchy, spicy hot and really good for you?  Kimchee!  Here’s how to make your own.  It’s much easier than you would think.

The first step is to chop your veggies and spices:

Next mix the spices together:

Mix in the veggies:

Once all is well mixed put in a jar and let sit until it’s fermented:

Once your kimchee is ready invite friends over and eat!

Here’s a recipe with more detailed instructions.

Garlic Braids

Right now is a good time to harvest garlic.  Braiding it then hanging it in a cool, dark place is a great way to store it for later.

how to make garlic braids

If the garlic isn’t well dried it will rot.

First dry the garlic until the leaves are limp and the outside of the bulb is getting papery.

how to make garlic braids

It’s ok to leave some of the dirt on the bulbs.

Gently brush off the dirt and trim the roots off.  Be careful not to bruise the garlic as it will spoil more quickly if damaged.

how to make garlic braids

If you’re new to braiding then getting someone to help will make a smoother braid.

Line up three bulbs with good long stalks and begin to braid.

how to make garlic braids

Make sure there is some space between the bulbs so they can continue to dry.

With each cross over add in another bulb until you have a braid that is about a foot long.  If you go longer it can be quite heavy and hard to hang.  It’s also nice to keep the braids a bit shorter to have more to give as gifts.

how to make garlic braids

Ready to hang. If you are a big garlic user then hang in your kitchen, if not put in a cool, airy place and take off heads as needed.

Here is the finished braid!

Summer Squash Pickles

So much squash! It’s pickle time.


  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dill and/or mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns


  • Bring vinegar, salt, water, sugar and garlic to a boil, simmer for two minutes
  • Put spices into jars
  • Pack jars with squash
  • Pour in vinegar mixture and put lid on jars

Let sit for a few days for flavors to blend. Keep this in the refrigerator up to two months. (Because it’s not water bath canned it needs to be in the fridge.)

Plant Dyes

How do you know if a plant might make a good dye? Rub it between your fingers and see if it stains. If it does give it a try!

To help the dye “bite” the yarn or fabric you need to use a mordant. Pickling alum is one I like to use; easy to find and non-toxic. Different mordants will give various shades so try a few!

Use the least processed, non-machine washable wool you can find. If it’s been treated it won’t take dye well.

Believe it or not this is grey from bright red day lillies!

Oregon Grape – I’ve just tried the berries but I’ve read the leaves and roots can be used for a yellow dye.
Purple from Oregon Grape with alum mordant.
Oregon Grape

Deep yellow from mature dock seeds.

Pale green from fennel
I used some alum but due to the natural tannin in the walnuts a mordant isn’t needed. The color is fairly long lasting and it’s a good idea to wear gloves!
Walnut stewing
Mulberry from Richland, WA.
Here’s wool dyed with mulberry. The different colors result from longer and shorter times in the dye bath.
Lady’s Bedstraw
Here’s the color when the roots are used.
Here’s the color produced from using the flowers with an alum mordant.
Tansy makes a nice yellow and it’s a noxious weed so no guilt in picking it!
Bracken fern
Tansy in the middle and Bracken fern on each side.
Bracken in a cast iron pot.

Hawthorn Berry Ketchup

There are lots of things you can do with this versatile berry from ketchup, to syrup to a deep purple dye.

Black Hawthorn Berry – ripe late July

First find the berries. As with any gathering be absolutely sure you’ve correctly identified the plant. If you have any doubt don’t use it.

Sharp thorns help identify this plant.

Here’s the recipe:

  • One cup washed berries
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Put the berries, water, salt and vinegar in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until berries split. Add sugar and stir until thickened.

Push through a sieve to remove seeds and season. Enjoy!

Bring to a boil then simmer until berries soften.

Push through a sieve then season to taste.

All ready for dipping!

Beacon Food Forest 2019

The BFF is maturing and bearing fruit. You can sign up to be a summer steward now.






Fava beans

Willow and dogwood



Meeting area