beg – beginning
hdc – half double crochet
ch – chain
sl st – slip stitch
dc – double crochet
sp(s) – space(s)
Materials: Nylon Netting and N Hook. It takes roughly 1 yard to make 1. I usually buy several yards so I can make some to give as gifts.
Cut Nylon Netting into 2″ wide strips. When you have about 10” remaining in the strip, tie another strip to the end and trim. This way, you don’t use up your netting by tying all the strips together and having short pieces to work before you come to a knot.
1. Ch 4, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 3(counts as dc), 11 dc in ring; join with sl st in 3rd ch of beg ch-3. (12 dc)
2. Ch 2 (counts as hdc), hdc in same st as joining, 2 hdc in each st around; join with sl st in 2nd ch of beg ch-2. Fasten off.
Other Side: Repeat 1 & 2 but do not fasten off.
Joining Circles: With wrong sides of each circle facing each other, tuck tails between the two circles. Working through both sides at the same time, sl st in each st around. Fasten off. I tie the last knot a little loosely and cut the net off leaving about four inches. I gently slip my hook into one circle and out the top, then grab the tail and pull it in, pulling the knot inside, or as closely as possible.
*If you are working with the new Scrubby yarn, use an L Hook. You will need to repeat #2 for an extra row. Otherwise, the pot scrubber will be small.
Drip Irrigation System
Note: All pipe and connectors are sized to fit your pipe. ½” pipe calls for ½” connectors; ¾” pipe calls for ¾” connectors, etc.)
¾” PVC Pipe – long enough to accommodate the length (or width) of your garden
8 T’s (You can use more or less, depending on the number of hoses you will use)
1 End Cap
8 threaded Hose bibs
8 threaded bushings
PVC Pipe Cleaner
PVC Pipe Glue
Before you do any project, you need to measure for fit and draw a plan. Determine the spacing for your rows. It works so much better if your rows are exactly the same space apart, but mine never end up that way. Consequently, we just measured for 2’ rows, and I adapted my soaker hoses to fit. If you are a perfectionist, go ahead and measure and cut exactly. If not, at least try to get as close as you can.
Cut your pipe into lengths according to your spacing. My rows are approximately two feet apart, so our pipe was cut to 30” lengths. Sand the ends to remove any slag and rough edges.
It is best to put together your system before you glue it. Once you have it together, lay it out beside your garden to make sure it is long enough and the spigots are placed accordingly. You want your spigots facing to the side for easy hose connection. Having them point down to the ground or up to the sky may cause a kink, which will affect the irrigation process.
Once you are satisfied with your layout, it is time to begin the gluing. Be sure to use the pipe cleaner on the outside edge of the pipe, down about three inches, to make sure the glue will adhere properly.
Start with the end cap. Clean the pipe well, then add glue to the outside edge of the pipe and the inside of the cap. Put the cap in place, then hold for about thirty seconds to a minute, to make sure the glue holds.
Clean the other end of the pipe, and glue the first tee into place. Continue this process until all the tees are securely glued. For this process, we wanted to make sure that the spigots were all lined up correctly. We kept all the spigots screwed into the hose bibs, and inserted them into the tees (but did NOT glue them in). We glued the first tee in place, and then laid it down on the floor of the shop. As we glued the next pieces, we glued, put it together, then quickly laid it on the floor and twisted until each spigot was straight. You really need to work fast with this part of the project, as PVC glue sets quickly. At the end, we glued an elbow into the final piece, making sure it was straight up in the air (this is where you will eventually attach your hose from your main water supply.)
Remove the spigots and bushings from the tees. Using the same process of cleaning and gluing, glue the bushings into each tee. Using your pipe tape, make several winds around the threads of the spigots, then insert back into the bushings, making sure that they are all even and pointing in the same direction. Glue the final bushing into the elbow at the end. Give it at least ten minutes before relocating it to your garden.
Lay the pipe in place, then connect your soaker hoses. As you connect a hose, unroll it and lay it about one-inch away from the roots of the plants. If your hose is too long, simply curve it around and lay it down along the other side of the plants. Continue this until all the hoses are in place. Slightly open all the spigots.
Connect a regular garden hose to the end bib and to the main faucet. Turn on the water. Adjust the spigots on your irrigation system about half way. This can be adjusted according to how much water you want or need on your plants.
Perfect! You now can spend all that time you used to take watering your garden on some other project. Or, if you can get away with it, just grab a lawn chair, a glass of lemonade and a good book and watch the water flow. If anyone calls and wants you to do something you really don’t want to do, you can honestly tell them, “I’m busy watering the garden!”
Bits & Pieces Draining Mat
This is one of those projects that you can use to: a) learn how to crochet, b) use up all those pieces of skeins that have too little to make another project, but too much to throw away, and c) make as big or small as you need! Here are the directions for Lorea’s:
Leftovers from 12 skeins of Sugar and Cream yarn
‘H’ Crochet Hook
Ch = chain
Sc = single crochet
Row 1: Sc into second ch from hook. Sc in each ch to the end. Turn.
Row 2: Ch 1. Sc in each sc. Turn.
Repeat Row 2 for as many rows for your desired length, adding yarn as needed (Lorea was able to do five rows of each color, before she had to add more yarn, for a total of 60 rows).
Fasten off and weave in any loose ends.
How to Make a Rain Barrel
1 – 55 gallon drum Saber Saw
1 spigot w/ ½” hose bib 1” Hole saw
½” to ¾” threaded bushing
Using the saber saw, cut the top out of the barrel. Thoroughly wash the barrel out, especially if it was used to store any type of chemical.
Turn the barrel upside down. Using the hole saw, drill a hole approximately 1” to 2” from the bottom of the barrel. Spread silicone on one side of a gasket. Fit the gasket (silicone side to face interior barrel) on the bushing. Place in the drilled hole.
Spread silicone on second gasket and place on the bushing on the outside of the barrel (silicone side to barrel). Attach spigot and turn/tighten until the knob is centered at the top. Allow to completely dry.
To set up your rain barrel, place it on cinder blocks in a place where the rain runs off the roof – for instance, under a modified rain spout, and as close to your garden as possible. Cover the barrel with the screen (either holding it in place with medium sized rocks or bending it to fit around the barrel then tying it securely). Make sure the spigot is closed. Allow to fill with rain water.
To water your plants, either attach a water hose that will reach your garden, or place a watering can underneath the spigot and fill.
TIP: Standing water is a magnet for mosquito larva. You may want to place a Mosquito Dunk (a small chemical ring sold in most hardware shops) in the barrel. This will help in preventing mosquitos from laying eggs in your water. The chemicals should not hurt your garden – UNLESS you are trying to go fully organic.
Melt & Pour Soap
1 Container Melt & Pour Soap
Essential Oil or Soap Fragrance
Depending on the size of your double boiler, break off 1/3 to 1/2 of soap. Cut into small chunks and place in the top of a double boiler. Place water in the bottom of the double boiler, approximately 1/3 to ½ full. Make sure it is not touching the bottom of the top piece. Bring water to a soft boil and turn heat to simmer. Place the top of the double boiler in the bottom. Allow soap to completely melt.
Remove top of double boiler from heat. Add coloring and stir to blend. Add fragrance and stir.
Pour soap into molds, leaving a scant lip (do not over fill). Allow soap to ‘cure’ (harden) for approximately 1 hour. To test, touch lightly with a fingertip. If the soap is solid, then it is ready.
Remove soap from molds. Allow to continue cooling/curing for at least one more hour. Do not place soap in freezer to hasten this step!
Wrap individual soaps in tissue paper or plastic wrap. Assemble gift basket.
Step back and admire your great work!
Flavored Sugar can be used for many things. You can use them to jazz up your coffee or tea, or use them for baking. The ingredients you use can be played with – like it stronger? Add more. Want just a hint of flavor? Use just a pinch. Need enough to bake cookies? Double or triple the recipe!
1 cup of sugar
1 Vanilla bean
1 glass jar with lid
Pour sugar into the jar. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds into the sugar. Shake well. Place the bean pod into the sugar and seal with the lid. Allow to sit for at least a week.
Cinnamon and Sugar
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or 1 cinnamon stick
Sugar and Spice
1 cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Ginger
1/8 teaspoon Allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
A pinch (and I do mean just a few granules) Nutmeg
Before I go any further, you really need to know that the initial expense of this is high, depending on the amount you want to make and the quality of the finished product. I use a lot of vanilla extract, and I know a lot of people who love to bake. To me, it just made sense to throw caution to the wind and make a huge batch of it. You can purchase vanilla beans in the grocery store, but be prepared to pay a hefty sum for just one or two beans. But keep in mind – the cost of making it yourself is still cheaper than purchasing it at the store, plus you get a better quality. (I am comparing true Vanilla Extract – not Vanilla flavoring.) For homemade vanilla, you really need at least seven beans – and that’s for a ‘short’ batch. I ended up ordering my beans from www.beanilla.com. For what I made, I ordered ½ pound of the beans, and had some left over to use in my flavored sugar and other treats. Below are the instructions to make a short batch and a tall batch. If you want something in between, just gauge your quantities.
1 cup (plus a splash) of Vodka or Rum
7 vanilla beans
1 glass jar with lid – large enough to hold the liquid
Split your beans lengthwise, but do not cut all the way through. Put them in the glass jar, trimming to fit. Go ahead – toss the trim pieces in there too. Pour Vodka or Rum over the beans until they are submerged. Seal the jar with the lid and set aside to age. Allow to age for at least two months, but preferably 8 months or longer.
1 liter Vodka or Rum (I used a mid-quality Vodka)
25 – 50 vanilla beans
Large glass jar with lid
Use the same method as with the short batch.
*The more beans you use, the stronger the final product will be. Keep in mind that most bakers are not going to want to use a weak variety, so go ahead and add a few extra beans!
How to Sew a Button
Place your button in as close to the exact place where the other one was, or where the new one is needed. Be sure you line it up with the button hole!
Next – thread your needle, using approximately two to three feet of thread. Match up the two ends and tie a double knot.
Now. Holding the button firmly in place with one hand, guide the needle from the underside of the fabric, up through the fabric and into the bottom right hand hole of the button. Pull your thread all the way until the knot is flush with the fabric. Don’t pull too hard, or you will pull the thread and knot all the way out.
Still holding the button straight and tight, guide your needle through the top left hand hole of the button. Pull thread tight.
Now, from the underside, push your needle through the fabric and into the bottom left hand hole of the button.
Next, push your needle through the top right hole of the button, again pulling tight. Continue this pattern until you have secured the button with three or four rounds of sewing, finishing with the needle on the underneath side of the fabric.
Turn the fabric over, and run the needle carefully through the threads you have just sewn, being careful not to run it through the fabric. Pull until a small loop is left.
Run the needle through the loop and pull tightly. Do this twice.
Clip the thread. Flip the fabric over and smile! You have just successfully sewn on a button. Who knows? Next you might just be sewing all your own clothes!
Budgets for Kids
The best beginning budget is a simple budget. If you have access to a spreadsheet program such as Excel, or a word processing system, you can quickly and easily prepare a simple grid on which to lay out a budget. If not, just use a notebook. I have used both, and find them both to work well. Kids just seem to love to be on the computer, so it may make it more enjoyable to them to use a spreadsheet. Plus, it gives them the added advantage of learning the program! Here is a very simple example of how to do a budget. the first example is the income. The second is expenses. At the bottom of each month, be sure to add or subtract your income from your expenses to see if you are ‘in the red’ (meaning not having enough income for the amount of expenses you are planning) and adjust accordingly.
As you can see in the example, your child has just budgeted for more expenses than he or she has income. Use this as a teaching example. Explain that he or she will either have to work harder to earn more income, or will have to go without that new shirt or going to the movies that month.
This budget can easily be adapted to your household. Just fill in the appropriate sources of income (Bill’s Job, Jane’s Job, etc.), and expenses (Mortgage, Electric, Gas, etc.).
Creating a budget is an excellent way to keep track of your finances. It shows you where your money is coming from, where it is going, and places where you can cut back, if your monthly difference is in the red.
Mini Compost Bins
Not everyone lives on acreage, but we all love to grow at least something in our flowerbeds, backyard gardens or in pots. One of the healthiest things to add to our soil is compost, but who has the room to build a huge pile in the backyard? Truthfully, you don’t need a big space to build a compost pile. Follow these directions and have the best of both worlds!
Compost is a method of layering one part ‘green’ (or wet materials, such as fresh grass clippings, manure, kitchen scraps, etc.) to two parts ‘brown’ (dry, such as leaves, old hay, etc.) materials. Add a little water, allow for air circulation, give it some time and you have what gardeners call ‘black gold’. For small scale composting, just follow these easy directions:
- You need three containers. They need to either have holes in them for drainage and air circulation, or you will need to make holes. For my experiment, I used three plastic square crates that I purchased at Wal Mart. These work great– Just be sure to line the bottoms with small-gauge wire to keep your compost from falling out.
- Place a layer of brown material in the bottom. Layer with some green material. Keeping layering until the container is full. Water gently – enough to get the ingredients wet, but not dripping. If you aren’t sure, dig into the center of the pile. If it is moist, great. If it is dry, give it a little more water. Let sit for three weeks, continuing to lightly water as needed.
- At the end of three weeks, ‘turn’ your compost by pouring it into your second container. You should see that it has started to break down somewhat. If not, add a little more ‘heat’ by mixing in some more green matter. Lightly moisten it, and let it sit. In the meantime, fill up your first container again by using the same layering method.
- Let both sit for another two to three weeks. Dump Container 2 into Container 3, and Container 1 into Container 2. Fill Container one again with raw materials, and start over. At the end of another three weeks, Container 3 should be broken down enough to spread out in your garden, or to mix in with the soil for your pots. You will also have two more bins in working progress.
It just doesn’t get any easier than this, and your flowers, herbs and vegetables will love it!
(to fit a 22” circumference)
ch – Chain
ds – Double Crochet
st – Stitch
sl st – Slip Stitch
( )__x – repeat
[ ] # – the number of stitches you should have
R1: ch 3; 10 dc in the 3rd chain from the hook; sl st to the 1st dc of the round to join 
R2: ch 2, 2 dc in each st around, sl st to the 1st dc of the round to join 
R3: ch 2, (2 dc in the first st, 1 dc in the next st) 10x, sl st to the 1st dc of the round 
R4: ch 2, (2 dc in the first st, 1 dc in each of the next 2 sts) 10x, sl st to the 1st dc of the round to join 
R5: ch 2, (2dc in the first st, 1 dc in each of the next 3 sts) 10x, sl st to the 1st dc of the round to join 
R6: ch 2, (2 dc in the first st, 1 dc in each of the next 4 sts) 10x, sl st to the 1s dc of the round to join 
R7: ch 2, 1 dc in each st around, sl st to the 1st dc of the round to join 
R8-R13: repeat R7 
R14: 1 sl st (loosely as this is the decorative edge) in each st around, finish off and weave in ends 
This hat can be made larger or smaller. To make a smaller hat (21” circumference), decrease the number of stitches in R6 to 7x .R7-13 = .
To make the hat larger (23” circumference), R7: ch 2, (2 dc in the first st, 1 dc in each of the next 5 sts) 3x, 1 dc in each remaining st around, sl st to the 1st dc of the round to join .
Most people have received a handmade gift from time to time. Consider that quilt made by your grandmother, or those delicious cookies your mom had ready when you got home from school. To me, there is nothing better in the winter than to wrap up in a scarf I have knitted myself, or to wash dishes with a hand-crocheted dishcloth. And handmade isn’t just for gift giving. With a little sewing knowledge, you can make curtains and slipcovers for your home; repurpose vintage tablecloths into clothing for your toddler; or even just mending clothing to help them last longer. Handmade items are a great way to add an extra smile to a face or to stretch an otherwise well-taxed budget. Either way, it’s a winning proposition. Rice bags are easy to make and great to give as gifts. If put in the freezer, they can be used to help reduce swelling. If placed in the microwave, they can ease sore muscles. They can be made in any size, and if you really want to get fancy, try embroidering a small design on the top piece before attaching it to the bottom. Try your hand at this simple sewing project!
- Cut a piece of medium to heavy-weight fabric 1” larger than the desired finished project. Cut an additional piece the same size out of flannel.
- Place pieces right side together.
- Beginning in the middle of one long edge, sew pieces together, leaving approximately a ¾ – 1 inch opening in the center of the opposite long edge.
- Clip corners.
- Turn right side out.
- Fill bags with rice through the opening.
- Fold fabric into the opening until even with the seams.
- Slip stitch opening together.
Knitted Christmas Garland
Making your own knitted or crocheted garland is an easy project – especially for the beginner. Start with any yarn you like – I chose four colors, but you can do however many you want. Determine how wide you need your loops, and cast on as many as you will need. For mine, I wanted a thinner loop (approximately 1-1/2″), so I cast on five stitches, leaving about a six inch or better tail. From there you can be creative. I simply used the knit stitch, but if you are more experienced, please feel free to knit, purl, yo or decrease to make the pattern you like. Knit until you have roughly 7″, then cast off. (See Photo 1). To connect your loops, simply match both ends, then with a small crochet needle sew the tail of your project through each end to create a loop. Knot securely then trim the excess. Thread the next strip through that loop and repeat the sewing process. Invert the loop so the seam is on the inside. Continue with remaining loops until you have completed your garland. Since our tree is small, I’ll end up with approximately 75 loops. For a larger tree, you will need more – approximately 5 loops per foot, Again, that depends on the size loop you want. For wider loops you may want to make your strips a little longer than 7″ in order for them to connect somewhat loosely. I don’t know much at all about crocheting these, but from what I’ve attempted, you would use about the same number of chain stitches as you would cast on stitches. If there is someone out there who crochets and tries this, please share with us how yours works out!
While I was shopping at Michaels’s to find stamps to use for my seed packets, a lady passed by and must have seen the total confusion on my face. She stopped to explain the uses of some of the supplies and offered some great advice. Whoever you are, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your help! If any of you are in the craft store and aren’t sure about what you are looking for, or even at, ask someone else on the aisle. More than likely they are a crafter as well, and can impart some wonderful wisdom. And who knows? You may have just met a new crafting buddy!
Once you have downloaded your template, (try frugal living for the one I used) check to make sure the size is appropriate. I had to enlarge mine in order to fit the canning jar stamp – if it wasn’t for the size of my stamp, the original size of the template would have been just fine. Cut along the solid lines. From here, you may want to make a template out of heavier paper, such as poster board, in order to trace the template on craft paper. To use craft paper, turn the paper face down and line your template up against one corner. This way you will be able to get more than one template per page (depending on the size of your template). Trace around the edges of your template. Cut around your lines. Fold along the dotted lines of your template to make the envelope. Begin with the bottom flap, then fold in the short side, then the larger side. Once folded, open back up and put glue on the outside bottom flap. Fold in the short side and secure on the glue. Put glue on the folded short side and fold in the larger side. Make sure not to get glue on the inside of your envelope – otherwise it won’t open properly. Flip your envelope over and get creative. Use your stamps, stickers or personal drawings, making sure to leave enough room to write in the type of seed that will be stored in your envelope. Either use artwork very sparingly or not at all on the back of your envelopes. This is where you will add the planting and growing instructions. If you use art paper that is too dark or busy, put the growing/planting information on a plain white shipping label and adhere to the back of the packet. I hope this has given all of you some great inspiration. Let me know how you do with yours. If you’d like to share pictures of your finished project, let me know! I’d love to see the artistic side of my readers!
Knitted Dish Rag
Check out the finished product! Notice the edging. I love this dishrag. Now it’s time to start washing dishes. THANKS, ALONA!
Alona finally got tired of watching me knit nothing but scarves, and introduced me to this easy and fun dish rag. As a beginner knitter, I admit to being intimidated by learning to K2tog and Yo, but she made it so easy! I hope you enjoy making them as well. I love using mine – they do a great job of scrubbing dishes, but they also make great gifts. I’m thinking about weaving some dishtowels and knitting some of these to match for Christmas gifts. I’ll first post some pictures, then a key for the stitches used. From there I will post the directions. If there is anything you don’t understand, please feel free to let me know and I’ll try to better explain it. And please let me know how you like the pattern! Happy Knitting!
st = stitches
K = knit
K2 = knit 2
K2tog = knit 2 together
YO = yarn over
First things first: Alona uses Sugar and Cream to make these dishrags. You don’t have to use that brand, but you do need to use a cotton yarn. I’ve used Bernat Vintage yarn with great success, and you can get several dishrags out of one of the large skeins. Choose a needle according to the size of the yarn. I use the 4.5 mm or US 7 for these yarns, as well as a 5.5 mm or US 8. Alona uses a 6.5mm or a US 9. Just don’t go too big, or you won’t have a tight knit that is needed for these dish rags.
Cast on 4 st. 1st row: K 4 sts.
2nd row: K2; yo and knit the rest of the row.
3rd row: K2; yo and knit the rest of the row.
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until you have 43 stitches on your needle.
Next row: K1; K2tog; yo; K2tog; knit the rest of the row.
Continue with this until you have only 4 stitches on your needle. Cast off and tie a small knot in the end.
Pattern by: Alona Loftin