January 2016 Challenge

Update February 14, 2016.  Woo Hoo!  I won a Sponsor’s Choice award for this soap!  Thank you Majestic Mountain Sage!

A new soap technique challenge with Amy Warden and Great Cakes Soapworks.  Called the circling Taiwan Swirl (not too catchy, but it works) I only made one batch for this challenge.  It’s being judged on the “lotus” that can show up on one end of the loaf.  I personally like the the other parts of the swirl better.  (but, I’m not in charge ;*)

I used a bastile recipe very high in olive oil so it would stay workable.  I used purple, neon green,  pink and blue micas to color my batter.  I used a lavender, orange, patchouli blend to scent this.  It stayed quite liquid and I really love the swirls on the other bars.   (I can’t cut straight to save my life!  You’ll see in the pictures.)

I waited till the very last minute (literally) to submit this; I was waiting for the sun to come up.  The sun did not cooperate, so I used a light box to take photos.  So, the colors are not as good as they would be outdoors.   (The pink looks orange here.)  Anyway, I love swirls and neon green and the other colors

Taken outside.

taiwan outside 2



These are the most true to color.


taiwan middle bars

I had removed the original pics taken in a light box as the colors were really off.  I decided to put them back as a comparison of natural light and artificial light.  What a difference!

tiwan circle challenge

taiwan 3

Christmas Apron 2014

I recently visited my daughter and she was wanting a cute apron.  Bingo!  Mom can sew!  (IF ANY OF JOIE’S FRIENDS ARE READING THIS, DON’T TELL HER!  I don’t think she checks my blog!)  So, I made one for her for Christmas and it’s reversible to boot.  Hope she loves it.  I used a pattern from Sugar Pie Chic, the Simply Chic Apron pattern.  Very cute, and easy to make.  Also, the instructions are good.

My daughter loves mermaids and I had found a mermaid themed fabric last year with her in mind.  I figured I might as well make it reversible, since it doesn’t take much more work.   As you scroll through the pictures, keep in mind that I made a number of changes to this from the original instructions.

  • I made it reversible
  • I drafted a new pocket
  • The changes I made significantly changed the construction steps in the pattern directions.  Unless you’re an experienced seamstress, just follow the instructions.

Here is the bodice, one side has the mermaids, the other side is a coordinating water print.  It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the bodice is darted for better fit.  And of course, neck ties at the top.




Here is the reverse side of the bodice.


Here is the skirt.  The skirt is gathered, waistband is attached.



Skirt ties pinned on and ready to stitch in place.





Below, bodice and skirt has been stitched to waistband.  The waistband is pinned in place to be topstitched.





Taa Daa!   Finished apron, the mermaid side.  I drafted the cute heart pocket.


joies apron


Here’s the reverse side.   The bodice looks darker in the pic, but is the same fabric as the skirt.







Mantra Swirl results

Finally! My Mantra Swirl (thanks to Amy Warden, Great Cakes Soapworks  and Majestic Mountain Sage for setting this up)  that I think has some pizzazz! This was trial # 5 in this series, and the one that gave me the most trouble. I did not think it would turn out well!  (update:  I actually made six trials.  picture added; the blue, yellow and white was my first attempt)
Between fragrance  (a luscious jasmine-lavender blend with my own tweak)  accelerating trace, temperature and the planets not quite aligned for this project, it thickened quickly and was difficult to pour, more of a plopping instead of pouring.   (Great,  thought I, what a mess.)

I used my basic recipe which is outstanding; simple but fabulous on skin. I try to improve it, but truly, it’s just about perfect. I used hot pink mica with a little strawberry mica for the reddish part, green, and violet, all from The Conservatorie. (Wonderful stuff they have!)
For my previous trials, I did the two dividers so I had three separate sections of color. This one I decided to do just one divider down the middle and pour the middle color so it would sink in. So much for plans! Because it thickened so quickly, when I poured the pink center section, it just sat on the top.
Well, hay-ull. (As my mechanic would say) Dang and double hay-ull.
A mess, thought I. Tried to push the pink down with the divider, then a spoon, then a spatula. No cigar for this girl.
On to the hanger; maybe since it was so thick, the hanger would push it down. So, I pushed the hanger straight down the middle twice, then figured I would end up making it …murky. So, did the hanger swirl (down the long side and back and forth, going up a bit each time.
After all that, it’s my favorite of all my trials.

mantra 4

Here are all my mantra trials.  I like all of them, but hopefully learned and improved with each.


Here’s the first attempt (forgot it when I took the above picture)


Soaps, soaps, soaps, Oh My!

More soaps and other luscious luxurious indulgences.  Pumpkin Pie soap…wish you could smell it, just like freshly baked pumpkin pie.



Here’s my second batch of coconut lime soap.  I used green clay and coconut; it feels and smells wonderful.

cocnut lemon lime

And, my daughter and I made all kinds of wonderful things this past weekend.  This lovely citrusy-floral soap with pink clay turned out beautifully.  Can’t wait to start using it.


And lastly, for chocolate lovers.  Here’s a batch of cocoa butter soap on the left and chocolate swirl soap on the right.  Amazing!


The sewing part…

I love creating beautiful, USEFUL things out of a piece of cloth.  I learned to sew when girls had to take Home Ec in school.  I am so glad; what I learned way back then gives me so much satisfaction .  This quilt was  made earlier this year as a gift for a granddaughter graduating from high school.  I loved playing with the colors and different settings for the stars.  I especially love the scrap border.As you can see, I love vibrant colors.

ImageI have been doing smaller quilting projects the last couple years and learning and being inspired to do more through some online classes.

If you haven’t found Craftsy,com, it’s a  bunch of great, fun classes.  Once you buy a class, it’s yours and can be viewed over and over.  Also, the instructors are available for questions, comments, a really helpful feature.  No affiliation, just a satisfied customer.


This is a bag I recently made for my daughter.  Next picture is a view of the inside of the bag.

And for fun, and because I love red, here is a quilt top currently in progress.

Peas can be vicious and aggressive (but lovely and tasty)…

June17, 2012  We are building pea frames right now.  2 x 4’s for a frame, fully 8 foot tall.  2 x 4  across the top and synthetic twine for the peas to climb.  Love peas, these being Sugarsnap.  (In the pic below, on the right are SugarAnn, slightly shorter vines that bear a bit sooner.  These were also planted about two weeks later.)   Edible and wonderful and sweet at any stage of growing.  (Horses and dogs think so too) But they get very TALL, as you must know if you’ve grown them before.  Easily 10′ – 12′ so they need a monster trellis. 

Last year we built what we thought would be a good sturdy trellis, but no.  As they climbed up, over and started back up, their weight collapsed the trellis.  Not this year!  (I hope)  Sometimes, we feel like Bill Murray against the gopher (the peas!) in Caddyshack.

Transplanted more red raspberries today.  They are Latham and do really well here.  My new raspberry bed is a long mound of compost with added bonemeal to the compost.  The transplants are watered in with an Alaska fishmeal (5-0-0) watering. 

If you aren’t composting, I recommend it.  It really does plants good and holds moisture perfectly.

Big day for us.  Curt seeded the back (future pasture) land.  Now we are praying for rain to get our seed off and growing.  Our second choice is dragging hose out and setting up irrigation.  That’s our afternoon project.

Two days later …