Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hemp Bracelets

Fun tutorial written by Rena at Jewelry Making Journal.  Love these cute bracelets for everyday and especially for a fun summer or spring time look!

How to Make Hemp Bracelets – a Tutorial

by Rena Klingenberg.
How to make hemp bracelets with beads and crochet chain stitch.
How to make hemp bracelets with beads and crochet chain stitch.
Here’s how to make hemp bracelets with a sparkle of beads and the simplest of crochet stitches – the chain stitch.
These are so fast and easy to make – and it’s a really fun way to play with color combinations!
This is also a very cheap project, costing me less than $1 each to make.
I made my bracelets with a button-and-loop clasp – but you can also use a large bead, a hook, or other jewelry clasp instead of a button. You might also decide to simply tie the ends of your bracelet together after you’ve wound it around and around your wrist.
Teens and pre-teens love to learn how to make hemp bracelets and other jewelry crafts like this.
This project is perfect for a young person to make several of, as gifts for friends and family.


(In this tutorial, I’m making the pinkish-lavender bracelet shown above, at the far right.)
Here’s what you’ll need:
    • An approximately 15-foot (4.6 meter) strand of hemp cord (20-lb size) for a bracelet that wraps around your wrist 5 times. Or a longer piece of hemp if you want to make a bracelet with more wraps.
    • Beads with holes large enough for your hemp cord to pass through. In this tutorial I used a size 6/0 bead mix from Bead Treasures, in a color combo called “Birds of a Feather”. (Purchased on sale at Hobby Lobby.) I used about 80 beads for this 5-wrap bracelet.
    • Whatever you’d like to use for a clasp – I used a 2-hole button, about 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) in diameter.
    • Ordinary white glue, to keep your cord end from fraying while you’re stringing your beads.
    • Crochet hook – I used size “D” (UK size 10; metric size 3.25 mm) for this size of hemp cord.
    • Ruler.
  • Scissors.

How to Make Hemp Bracelets

First we’re going to make the tip of our cord stiff enough to string beads onto it easily without fraying.
So squeeze a dab of ordinary white glue onto the tip of your finger:
. . . and then use your fingers to coat the first few inches (cms) of your hemp cord with the glue:
The glue will air-dry pretty quickly, but you can use a hair dryer to get it dry in less than a minute.
You’re going to string all of the beads you’ll be using before you start crocheting.
It’s better to string more beads than you think you’ll need; you can easily remove any excess strung beads off the back end of your cord when you’ve finished crocheting.
So as soon as the glue on your cord is dry, you can start stringing beads onto the cord:
Here’s approximately what you’ll have when you’re done stringing your beads:
Now thread your hemp cord up through one hole of your button, and down through its other hole:
. . . then turn the button over and tie a couple of knots in your hemp cord, on the underside of the button:
Now we’re going to start crocheting.
I find it’s best for this project if you crochet kind of loosely, so your finished bracelet will be soft and flexible.
If you tend to crochet tightly, you may want to use a larger crochet hook.
Take the long end of your hemp cord, and curve it into a little loop right next to the knots you just tied at the underside of your button:
. . . and then insert your crochet hook through this loop, and use the hook to pull the long end of your cord through your loop:
Tighten the loop, sliding it down against the knots you tied at the back of your button.
You’ve just made the first chain stitch of this bracelet.
Your crochet hook should still be inserted in the second loop you just formed when you pulled the long end of your cord through your first loop.
If necessary, pull gently on the long end of your hemp cord to adjust this second loop so that it’s just slightly loose around your crochet hook.
Now use your hook to pull the long end of your cord through this second loop, to make a second chain stitch.
Make a total of 3 chain stitches:
. . . and then slide your first bead up your hemp cord next to the chain stitch you just finished, and just include this bead in your next chain stitch:
Easy-peasy, right?
Now continue chain-stitching – adding a bead into every second stitch (1 stitch without a bead, 1 stitch with a bead) until your chain reaches your desired length.
For my design in this How to Make Hemp Bracelets tutorial, the chain is about 34 inches (86.3 cm):
Now you’re going to make a few more chain stitches without beads, to make the loop that your button will go through to fasten your bracelet.
I made about 8 chain stitches after my last bead:
. . . and then curved those beadless chain stitches into a loop, to test whether my button would fit through this loop:
When your beadless chain end is the right length for the loop, leave your crochet hook in the last chain loop, and also insert the hook through the last bead stitch of your bracelet:
. . . then use your hook to pull the long end of your hemp cord through both loops you now have on your crochet hook.
Make one final chain stitch after that, and then pull up a big loop. Use your scissors to cut off your hemp cord in the middle of this loop:
Now be sure to pull tightly on this newly-cut end hemp cord at the end of your bracelet, to make a nice tight knot.
To hide this hemp cord “tail”, use your crochet hook to weave this cut end back through some of your bead crochet stitches.
Then do the same thing to weave the hemp cord tail at the button end of your bracelet into your bead crochet chain.
You’re finished! And that’s how to make hemp bracelets with beads and a super-easy crochet stitch.

Wearing Your Wrapped Hemp Bracelet

Simply wind your crocheted, beaded hemp strand around your wrist as many times as possible.
Then pass the button end under half of the strands, and the loop end under the other half of the strands, so you can fasten your button clasp in the middle of your wrapped bracelet strands.
Then adjust the button so it sits nicely on top of the strands.
You can wear the button on the top of your wrist as decorative focal point, or on the inside of your wrist as a clasp.
Now slide a finger from your other hand under all of the strands, to pull the strands to an even tension around your wrist. If I don’t do this, I tend to have some tight strands and some loose ones in my wrap.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Upcycled Pallet Shelf Tutorial

From The Etsy Blog

How-Tuesday: Upcycled Pallet Shelf

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods
For this week’s How-Tuesday post,  Mary Andrews and Tim Vidra from 17 Apart teach us how to transform a discarded shipping pallet into a beautiful storage system suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Roll up your sleeves and kick off a season of spring cleaning and gardening with this perfectly repurposed project!
Springtime always gets us excited to return to the garden, get organized, and integrate fresh, seasonal updates around our home. We recently recycled a shipping pallet we’ve had in storage into a versatile indoor/outdoor storage system, and we can’t wait to share how easy it to make one of your own.
You Will Need:
A shipping pallet
Spray primer
Indoor/outdoor spray paint
Sandpaper or grinder
Wood filler and finishing nails (optional)
Hanging hardware
Face mask & protective gloves
1. Source a pallet. Wooden shipping pallets seem to be everywhere these days. (Many businesses will actually pay people to come get them and haul them away.) If you see a company that has pallets, they may just allow you to take as many as you can carry.
A word on pallet wood and safety: Be picky when selecting pallets. Some pallets left outside may carry harmful chemicals, bacteria or are made with pressure-treated wood. Recent regulations require some pallet manufacturers to treat the wood before shipments — either with chemicals or heat treatment. The safer of the two is heat treatment, so look for a stamp on the wood with the letters HT. It’s always a good practice to use protective gear when working with your pallet to avoid wood splintering, nails, or breathing in any harmful chemicals.
2. Prepare your pallet. All pallets are shaped differently and many come missing a few boards here and there. First decide the best configuration for your wall shelves, then begin by removing the select boards on one side of the pallet to expose the horizontal boards on the inside (these will end up being your shelves). Leave at least one board on the face of either end to create the look and feel of a framed shadow box.
Once the desired boards have been removed, continue prepping your pallet by removing or hammering down any exposed nails. If you come across any boards with large cracks or jagged edges, hammer a few finishing nails in through the side to seal and repair the wood.
Using a sheet of sandpaper or a grinder, sand all the rough surfaces and edges around the pallet, removing the remaining dirt and debris from the outer layer. If you plan to paint the pallet and are going for a more finished look, at this stage you can fill open nail holes and cracks with wood filler.
3. Prime and paint the pallet. If you like the more exposed or rustic look of the pallet wood, you can either move onto the next step for hanging the storage shelves, or seal the entire pallet with a clear protective coating. If you choose to paint, coat the entire pallet with a thick base of primer. Pallet wood can be very porous, so the primer will make your finished paint color pop (and help to conserve paint).
Once the coat of primer has completely dried, apply the finishing paint coat. We opted for an indoor/outdoor spray paint in a bright buttercream. If using spray paint, be sure to wear a protective face mask and spray using very thin and even coats in a well ventilated area. Allow a full 24 hours for the paint to dry before moving to the next step.
4. Hang the pallet. Attach your desired hanging hardware and hang your new pallet storage system securely in place on the wall. We went for a wire and hook system since we have picture molding in our home. Any hardware system you prefer is fine, so long as it is strong enough to secure your pallet safely. If you attach wire hardware to the top of the frame like we did, make sure to screw in hooks closer to the back of the frame top — this will help the pallet rest flat along the wall.
5. Use your new storage. For an indoor look: Bring your new pallet storage system inside and hang it on your wall. Layer the shelves with meaningful decorative items like framed photos, little keepsakes and even indoor potted plants or vases with fresh flowers.
For an outdoor look: Hang your new wall pallet in an outdoor space for an instant functional storage system. Fill it with useful items for the garden, or use it for organizing shop tools or studio storage.
And there you have it — a functional organization system upcycled from something originally headed for the landfill!
If you make your own pallet storage system, share a photo with us tagged with #howtuesday or post in the Etsy Labs Flickr group. Have another idea for reusing pallets? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken and Potatoes Set It and Forget It

Slow-Cooker Cheesy Chicken & Potatoes

from www.kraftrecipes.com
Slow-Cooker Cheesy Chicken & Potatoes recipe
photo by:
While you've been out, this cozy mix of chicken and potatoes has been simmering away, getting more tender and flavorful. The cheesy 5-minute sauce tops things off.
15 min
6 hr 20 min
4 servings

what you need

large  green pepper, chopped

lb.  red potatoes (about 3), very thinly sliced

tsp.  paprika

small  bone-in chicken thighs (2 lb.), skin removed

can  (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup

lb.  (4 oz.) VELVEETA®, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Tbsp.  Worcestershire sauce

cup  chopped fresh parsley

make it

PLACE peppers in slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray; top with potatoes. Sprinkle paprika over chicken. Place 4 thighs in slow cooker; cover with soup and remaining thighs. Cover with lid.
COOK on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours).
USE slotted spoon to transfer chicken and vegetables to platter; cover to keep warm. Set slow cooker on HIGH heat. Add VELVEETA and Worcestershire sauce to reserved liquid in slow cooker; stir. Cover with lid; cook 5 min. Stir until VELVEETA is completely melted and sauce is well blended. Spoon over chicken and vegetables; top with parsley.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Preschool Apps

Here are some great apps for preschoolers found from I Can Teach my Child.  I am a new homeschooling mom - or will be next year and have been searching for different kinds of educational materials for my kiddos.  These are great for younger kids and I am still searching for more geared to elementary kiddos too.  Once I find these, I'll post them too!

6 Best Paid Apps for Preschoolers:
1. Montessori Crosswords (designed for iPad and iPhone–$2.99)
This is one of my favorites, probably because it is a great tool for teaching reading (or the phonetic component of reading, anyway).  Teaching a child to read is one of my favorite things in the entire world!  This app is great for teaching letter SOUNDS (which is WAY more important than learning their names).  It also adds a cognitive component of mini-crossword puzzles as well as consonant blends.  This app is completely customizable and includes a special section for parents.
If you are familiar with the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, you will appreciate this app!  It is an electronic version of the Wet-Dry-Try activity that is a core component in this curriculum.  It teaches children to form letters from the top down.  Although using this app is quite different from holding a pencil and writing (unless you have your child use a stylus), it at least allows children to learn how to correctly form a capital letter (and numbers).  My only complaint about this app (besides the fact that it is ridiculously expensive and only includes capital letter formation) is that it can be frustrating for younger children.  Little Brother attempted it and he obviously did not have the fine motor control necessary, so it would make him start over again and again.  I would suggest this app for children who are 4+.  It is perfect for Big Brother and keeps me from harping on him all the time to begin writing his capital letters from the top down!

3.  TeachMe Toddler (Compatible on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad–$0.99)
This all-in-one app works on letters, numbers, shapes, and colors (which I think is great for young preschoolers/older toddlers).  If you have a preschooler who is ready for more of a challenge, the Teach Me Kindergarten App ($1.99) would be a great step up!  The Kindergarten app includes addition, subtraction, spelling, and sight words!  Each child has their own log-in and you can track their progress.  The interface is pretty simple, which I personally prefer for my children–some other “busy” apps can be overstimulating.  This app can be a little drab if playing it for a while, but it is still something I would recommend.
4.  Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (designed for both iPod and iPad–$0.99)
This is the most popular preschool app available, with good reason!  At 99 cents, it offers a lot of bang for its buck!  The puzzle feature (below) is great for incorporating visual/spatial awareness while you’re on the go (without losing a million puzzle pieces in the process).  It also includes sorting, shape recognition, and color recognition…just to name a few.

5.  Park Math – Duck Duck Moose (compatible with iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone–$1.99)
This app provides valuable content and is engaging to young children.  The bear on the roller skates strolls from task to task, including sorting from smallest to largest, patterning, number recognition, counting, and addition.  The graphics won’t wow you, but they’ll keep your child entertained while learning.

6.  Bugs and Bubbles (Designed for both iPod and iPad–$2.99)
This app, along with its companion app (Bugs and Buttons–same price), are the most beautiful children’s apps I have seen!  The graphics are incredible!  This app, in my opinion, is the perfect blend of fun and learning.  Some of the tasks are solely for fun (popping bubbles) while others include important early-learning tasks such as patterning, letter matching, letter writing, and shape recognition.  I also really like that every game starts at the easiest level and as the child masters it, it goes to harder levels.

The Best FREE Apps for Preschoolers:
7.   PBS Kids Video:  Although this is less of an app and more of a portable movie player, it is still nice to have!  Watch more than 1,000 videos from your favorite PBS Kids shows anytime, anywhere (with Wi-Fi) in the US!  Great for doctor’s appointments and airplane rides (just don’t forget the headphones).

This interactive pop-up book allows your little one to count, but won’t let him/her recount an object that has already been counted, therefore helping to increase a child’s one-to-one correspondence ability.  Some of the games are locked until you purchase the app, but the book portion alone is worth downloading.

If you don’t want to pay for the Handwriting Without Tears App, this is a great (and FREE) alternative that helps your child learn how to form their letters in a fun and interactive way.  Like the HWT app, it would be even better if you had your child use a stylus.  I also really like this one because it includes lowercase letters as well (unlike the Handwriting without Tears app).

Many of you shared on Facebook that you loved the Starfall Apps.  But when I read the reviews, there seemed to be a lot of negative comments about how expensive the App was for ONE game (out of dozens) that are free on the Starfall website (that can’t be used on iPads/iPhones due to no flash players).  Rather than paying for a Starfall app, I followed the recommendation from Ashley of Life with Moore Babies and downloaded Rover–which makes websites with flash players (like Starfall) accessible and usable!

A Few Runner-Ups
Alphabet Zoo:  This simple flashcard-like app goes through every letter of the alphabet, saying the letter name, its sound, and an object that corresponds to it.

Paid:  I didn’t purchase these apps and try them out, but they came recommended byreaders on my Facebook page.
ABC Wildlife ($2.99):  We downloaded this one when it was free about a month ago.  I REALLY like it and would recommend it. Each letter has several real animal examples with letter sounds, games, and videos about the real-life animal.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tank Top Purse

Oh boy!  Something cute to make with all my old tank tops that I can't wear anymore  since moving to Alaska!.  This awesome tutorial is from Color Me There.  I love the pocket in the striped bag!  Perfect!

Tank top totes - after
Tank top totes - before
Before you pack away your summer clothes for the winter, you might want to set one of your tank tops aside to make one of these easy totes. The best kind of tank tops to use for this project are ones that have front and back necklines that are the same height—or very close. Otherwise, your tote bag will be lopsided. The brown tote is reversible, so the pockets can be on the inside or outside. I made that tote small because the straps were thin and wouldn’t hold a lot of weight. The magenta tank top had a gathered neckline in front and back, so a gathered bottom was ideal. A pink store-bought flower pin finished it off.

How to make a tank top tote with six pockets

Supplies and tools
  • tank top
  • straight pins
  • water-erasable fabric marker
  • sewing machine and thread
  • fabric scissors
  • seam ripper
  • sewing gauge or ruler
Remove the tags
1. First remove the tags with a seam ripper or scissors.
Turn the tank top inside out
2. Turn the tank top inside out.
Cut the elastic off
3. If your tank top has a bra liner, cut the elastic off the bottom of it.
Fold along middle
4. Fold so that the straps lie on top of each other.
Fold up the bottom
5. Fold the bottom of the tank over itself. This will become the pockets.
Pin and mark
6. Pin in place, making sure the seams line up. Mark where you want the seams in between each pocket with pins or an erasable fabric marker.
Sew the pockets
7. Using a stitch that stretches with knit fabric, such as the triple straight stitch, sew the seams that divide each pocket. Make sure the bra liner is lying flat before sewing. Back-stitch to lock the seams.
Bottom seam
8. Sew the bottom together about 1/4 inch from the edge. Back-stitch to lock the seam.
Tank top tote - inside out
9. Turn the tote bag inside out so the pockets will be on the inside—or leave it as is.

How to make a gathered tank top tote

Supplies and tools
  • tank top
  • straight pins
  • water-erasable fabric marker
  • sewing machine and thread
  • fabric scissors
  • seam ripper
  • sewing gauge or ruler
  • flower pin
Remove labels from neck
1. First remove the tags with a seam ripper or scissors.
Mark where to sew
3. Fold so that the straps lie on top of each other. Measure and mark where you want the seam to be. I placed mine five inches from the bottom of the tank top.
4. Baste two rows (about 1/4 inch apart) along the line you marked. Do not back-stitch. Then pull the bobbin threads tight as you slide the fabric inward to gather it. Then use a straight stitch with a shorter stitch length and sew between the two basted seams. Back-stitch to lock the seam. Pull out the basted seams.
Cut excess fabric off
5. Cut off the excess fabric about 1/2 inch past the seam.
Turn right-side out
6. Turn the tote bag right-side out.