Sunday, June 30, 2013

Etsy Weekends - Beeswax Candles

I love candles. Love them. I think they are beautiful and really add something to a home, or a gathering. We've got a couple of very naughty kitties at the moment, and have cut down on our usage, but I can still dream and scheme of candle purchases. Here are a few nifty Beeswax Candles I came across on Etsy!

Beeswax Candles -Floating Stars - 3 pack
Floating Candles from Honey Run Farm
beeswax name candle - custom
Name Candle from Mile End Soap and Candle
Bulk Lot of 25 Beeswax Tapers
Tapers from Epic Beeswax
California Beeswax Honey / Bumble Bee Pillar Candle
 Bee Pillar from Boyd and Bees Candles
We hope you've enjoyed this week's edition of Etsy Weekends! Come back next time to see what else we've found!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

See Through Lace Knitting

While Mom and I have time to chat in person about knitting, we thought we'd chat about an idea we've both been formulating for different projects. When I was working on the Hand Warmer Scarf I thought that matching mittens would be really great, but I didn't want to do a simple color block pattern, or even to replicate the snowflake pattern. I thought that it would be really nifty to knit the inside in the purple, then knit the outside in the blue, and do a lace pattern across the back (maybe in the snowflake shape) so that the purple would peek out through the holes. I also want to use this method in the building of wedding reticules...but it is an idea that has been shelved many times over the  years as other projects and ideas have taken precedence.

Mom has also come to this conclusion while working on a pair of lined homespun llama mittens, that a lace overlay showing the second layer would look really great!

As always, we are continually evolving our designs and ideas are constantly coming and going, sometimes becoming actual objects, and sometimes staying as a thought in the back of the mind. Hopefully soon one of us will have an update on what we came up with...but for now, it's just one more teaser for you!

Have a great weekend, we are certainly enjoying ours!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sypes Canyon Hike Photo Shoot

Here in Montana Matt and I have been cleaning and rearranging the house in preparation for Mom and Dad's arrival. They will be visiting us for the first time! (Well, Mom has been here, but it's Dad's first trip.) So I don't have much to share with you, other than some pictures we took on a hike a few weeks back! There are views of Beautiful Bozeman, MT, and of course a few flower pictures! Hope you enjoy them....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yarn Porn - Malabrigo Lace Weight

I know our girls give us more wool than we know what to do with...and if you need confirmation of that statement, just check out our Etsy Shop to see all the weird stuff we try to make with all that wool...but I still have an addiction to buying other yarn. I've managed to be a good girl over the last few years, only splurging a few times since I left Green Bay in 2008 (the Monterey Yarn Shop in Green Bay was a naughty place for me and I would buy on credit like I had money to pay the bill lol). But I still fantasize about yarn...buying it, knitting it, smelling know, normal yarn lover stuff. I am especially bad about lace weight wools. They are my favorite!! The last time I bought a new skein of lace weight yarn, I came home to find the same colorway already in my yarn bin. Whoopsies! I suppose that yarn stood the test of time though, I still loved the color a year or so after buying the first skein! Anyway, I'm writing this post to share with you some of my favorite yarns! Today I want to share Malabrigo. Of course I prefer to smell and touch and stash in the closet my Malabrigo purchases, so I can't show you anything I've made from it. Maybe someday I'll finish something and update this post ;)

Malabrigo Website can be accessed here.
228 SnowBird
I love the colors! They are mostly kettle dyed, so it is extremely important to get the same dye lots when purchasing more than one skein. Even among dye lots there are differences between skeins. This is what I love about Malabrigo yarn, every skein is different, even when it's the same! 

246 HummingBird

It is also some of the softest yarn ever, a dream to rub against your cheek, or run through your fingers. Their other types of yarn aren't half bad either ;) Moral of the story is, if you come across this yarn - Buy it!! :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Etsy Weekends - Anklets

I love Anklets! When I was younger my friend Kitty and I would make all kinds of jewelry, she did beading and I loved Norwegian Braiding. Our favorite things to make were bracelets and anklets. Grandpa Bjerke found some wool ends at an auction one year and gave them to us, and as soon as I saw the gorgeous turquoise and apple green peaking out through the orange and smokey blues I knew this stuff would make great jewelry! I made an anklet of the ugliest color combination imaginable and wore that sucker til it practically fell off me. I loved it with a love only a young girl can know for a piece of jewelry she has made herself and worn "for like forever". I haven't worn an anklet in years, but every once in a while I get an inkling for some ankle love. Here are a few of my favorites from Etsy!

Leather Eternity Knot Anklet      
Leather Eternity Knot from Pendragon Jewelry
Bracelet Anklet Gold Greek Key Anchor Greece Ancient Copper Bracelets Anklets
Gold Grecian Anklet from GR168

Adjustable Woven Hemp Bracelets or Anklets
Hemp Anklet from highwaytocali

Open star anklet, Sterling silver, delicate and cute.
Star Anklet from lookatmeshop

We hope you've enjoyed our taste this week, come back next week to see what else we've found!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kitchen Lessons Learned

A few weeks back I made a Chicken Dumpling soup. My chicken wasn't falling apart the way I wanted it to, so I had a brilliant idea: use my immersion blender to chop up the meat!! This way my chicken would be smaller, the way I prefer it, it wouldn't take a ton of time to do it and the best part - no burned fingers! (My other methods are a bit barbaric...) Here's what the soup ended up looking like:

Here's what I learned. Using an immersion blender to chop up chicken will give you a slurry of chicken, and will make a small amount of chicken fill a pot of soup. It's great if you are using lots of dark meat, as the dark meat easily blends into the soup. It's also great if you don't have a ton of meat and need to make it stretch. But it's not so great if you already tossed in quite a bit of meat! It ended up being overly chicken-y and Matt complained about the lack of meat chunks. (He likes chunks of meat, I prefer smaller bits.) It was also almost a grainy consistency with all the shredded chicken. But hey, you live and you learn right? And now I know how to make my chicken stretch if I need it to!! :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Time Lapse

We took photos for Matt's Birthday walk on Peet's Hill in March, and went back with the camera again last week. We got some really nifty pictures of the seasons changing! I told him we'll have to head back again for the browns of late summer lol. (it gets really crispy here in July and August, then the trees turn and it's beautiful again!

For your enjoyment:
The M Zoomed In - March 2013
The M - June 2013

Matt - March 2013
Matt - June 2013

Kirsten Jogging - March 2013
Kirsten Jogging - June 2013
MSU Campus from Peet's Hill - March 2013
MSU Campus from Peet's Hill - June 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Etsy Weekends - Back Yard Stuff

While I've been spending more than enough time outside in the backyard weeding, planting, mowing, and getting sun burned, I wish I could spend more time out there simply enjoying myself. These items from Etsy would make relaxing in the backyard just that much easier!!

Black Sitting Hammock, Hanging Chair Natural Cotton and Wood
Black Sitting Hammock from hamanica
Full Wine Barrel Stave Outdoor Swing
Wine Barrel Swing from SLOBarrellWorks

Hope you are all having a relaxing weekend, and come back next time to see what else we're drooling over!

Friday, June 14, 2013


To Celebrate all of the fun events going on this summer I'll be offering Coupon Codes in the Etsy Shop for the new Comic Book mice intermittently between now and the end of July. That of course means I've been busy knitting an army of Superhero mice...but I took time out this week to work on these bad boys:

New Lace Wrist Warmers! Also loosely based on the wrist warmer pattern I talked about here. To make these I just found a lace pattern I liked, then did a little math to figure out how many stitches I wanted to use! The pattern was about the perfect height to do one repeat for the wrist area, one repeat during thumb construction and one repeat to finish them off. Just remember if you want to add in a lace pattern you've come across you just need to find out what the multiple is and add it in to your pattern! And of course, take notes so you know what you did!!

I'm still working on writing down the pattern for testing and so that I can read it a month from now....

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rhubarb Cake

I planted rhubarb in the garden last week, and the lady who so graciously let me take a few roots of her plants also gave me fresh rhubarb to do some cooking with! I'm not a huge fan of mishy fruit pies (and let's be honest, I didn't have the ingredients or money to buy ingredients) so strawberry rhubarb pie was out of the question. I did an internet search and found a recipe for Rhubarb Cake...which I did have all the ingredients for! I didn't have high hopes, so I didn't take pictures of the whole process...but here's the end result!

I used my food processor to chop the rhubarb really small, then chopped about two stalks by hand. This gave me some bigger chunks (as seen in the picture) and smaller pieces that added flavor without adding mishy chunks or too much flavor. The bigger pieces give the cake a nice kick every few bites though, so I might do even more bigger chunks next time. Either way, it was a very nice introduction to baking with Rhubarb! :)

And of course, here's the recipe so you can all make this at home! :)
1 1/2 cups raw Rhubarb cut fine
1  cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour

In large mixing bowl cream sugars and butter, add egg and salt. Stir in applesauce, soda, vanilla, and flour. Add rhubarb. Pour in prepared 9x13x2-inch baking pan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bake at 375-degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake is very moist and needs no frosting.

This recipe came from Rhubarb Info - this website is full of Rhubarb Recipes!!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

More Garden Lessons Learned

Last year Grandpa Arneson told me I didn't plant enough peas. This year I decided to quadruple my production and add in a pea trellis of twine.

Here's what it looked like after a bad wind storm:

I tried two different methods, one where I tied each joint, and one where I didn't. I think you can tell which side I tied!! I've learned my lesson - twine will make a mess if it isn't tied in place. My method was pretty simple, to start I wrapped then stapled the twine into place around my stakes at top and bottom. Then I tied a third strand of twine to the top, then started a v pattern where I would tie to the top twine, then down to the bottom. Here's what it looked like after I fixed the 'bad' side:

You can even see my peas growing up already! I'll post more pictures as the peas grow and hopefully attach themselves to the twine, we'll get to see how it works together!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Etsy Weekends - Toe Rings

When I was in middle school my sister Becky joined the Navy. Well, first she went off for a year of college, then six months of fun in the sun in Florida, then back to wintery Wisconsin, then she joined the Navy. While she was gone (and I can't remember precisely when) I found a little dolphin toe ring in her room. It didn't quite fit me right, but it was beautiful and I loved it! I wore it anytime I wore my flip flops that summer, and disappeared. It's still in the backyard at Mom and Dad's house somewhere. It started an obsession with toe rings for me. I found the perfect toe ring to complement my thumb ring - it had celtic knots all around and fit me perfectly. I wore it all through high school and then lost it at Lake Wazee one summer. After that I was pretty bummed out about toe rings - what's the point in finding one you really like if they just fall off and get lost??

This time on Etsy Weekends I'll show off some toe rings I found on Etsy! They just scream summer and fun and youth to me...and maybe someday I'll buy a new one :)

Plain copper toe ring textured finish minimalist
Plain Copper Toe Ring from SpiralCraftUK
14K Rose Gold Fill Toe Ring Matte Finish Round Wire
Rose Gold Fill Toe Ring from Decadence2Jewelry

Sterling Silver Adjustable Spiral Toe Ring
Sterling Silver Spiral Toe Ring from MmeMagpie 

Sterling Silver Adjustable Braided Wire Pattern Toe Ring
Sterling Silver Braided Toe Ring from AdoraBellaJewelry

Well I hope you enjoyed the Toe Rings today, come back next time to see what treasures we've come across in our Etsy trolling!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Kitty Modeling Shoot

Since we sell cat toys, I try to get a good shot of the kitties in action with a toy. But I also don't want them to play with the toys that are for sale! It's a difficult choice. I can't give them each new toy I make (they already have so many toys!) so I've come up with a compromise solution, I get a picture of the cat with the toy, but not necessarily playing with it! Actually a lot more difficult than you would think...first I have to get the kitty in the staging area, then get them to try to play with the mouse, but take it away before they get too excited!

Needless to say, the kitties don't really like Modelling days.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Fix A Pattern

Anyone can make a knitting pattern, even you who think you can't!

If starting from scratch is a bit scary, you can easily steal ideas from things you like and put them together. I've been working on some wrist warmers recently and hodge-podged a pattern I could live with - easy to knit, easy to wear, and easy on the eyes!

These two wrist warmers were knit from the same basic pattern, just tweaked a bit to make subtle (and not so subtle) changes.

To start, you need to find the yarn and needles you want to use. I prefer more "delicate" knitting, and don't like to use needles bigger than 10 1/2. For these I pulled out my size 8 double points (they were handy) and I started a swatch. I knew I wanted to use ribbing in the pattern, and a basic lace pattern that I hadn't picked out yet, so I did some plain stockinette (Knit stitches on one side and purl stitches on the other) to use to measure my gauge for the lace area, then did some 2x2 and 1x1 ribbing. I probably should have taken a picture of the swatch after I knit and measured it, but I didn' you have to take my word for it. I really knit a swatch! (And even if you don't like to, you should too! If you use the same yarn and needles you can make several patterns using the measurements from one swatch, and some people use swatches for all kinds of things!)

Now I've got numbers and an idea. I know how many stitches I need to build a wrist warmer wide enough to fit my hand. Then comes the fun part, I can start building my pattern. I knew I wanted a 2x2 rib for the wrist area, followed by a protruding thumb, a lace pattern and a 1x1 rib for the tip. Knowing this, I mocked up numbers. I wrote out the whole pattern exactly as I thought I would knit it, then went forth and knit the pattern, taking notes as I went along. I liked the wrist warmers, but I didn't love them. So I made adjustments to the next pair, longer cuff and tip, changed to 2x2 ribbing for the tip instead of the 1x1, new lace pattern that filled more space, elongating the wrist warmers even more.

Side note - thumbs don't need to be complicated. Sometimes it's as simple as casting off, then casting back on in the same space on the next row, creating a slit in the fabric of your knitting. If you want a protruding thumb, that's pretty easy too and just takes some simple math. Measure how far you want the thumb to go out and up, then using your gauge find out how many stitches you start with and end with. Then find out how many rows you have to get there, and spread out the increased stitches over the rows you have to work with. For me, I just increased by one stitch every row until I had 12 new stitches. For you it might be different, so taking the time to do the math will almost always be worth the effort.

If you have an idea in your head, it's relatively easy with a little time and knitting math to write out a pattern. If you don't have an idea, look at some books. If you like a pattern someone has already come up with, try it out. If you don't like the way it looks and think a simple thumb would work better, go ahead and try it! If you find elements of several patterns that you really like, incorporate them together. For now I'm really digging the ribbed palm look on my wrist warmers, but I've also got ideas for seed stitch palms and all around lace warmers. Time to get out my paper, pencil, and calculator!! :)

Someday I would like to go into further detail, specifying each step of the process, but for now you have to enjoy this quick overview. Any questions, feel free to ask, and remember that patterns are just a good idea, not the law!! (Also look for this pattern for sale in the future, after it has been properly typed up and tested out!)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Etsy Weekends - Planters

It's that time of year when things are growing really well in the backyard and the front yard, and the lawn needs to be mowed every other day. These are the days when I get really excited about buying things for the house. This week I came across the cutest little flower planter, and couldn't help but think it would look great out on our front step :) The cute little pig planter led me to search for more planters on Etsy, so for this week's Etsy Weekends I give you - planters!!


ceramic pig planter  in mint green
Ceramic Pig Planter from Claylicious
Ceramic Hippo Planter Vintage Design Lavender
 Ceramic Hippo Planter from fruitflypie 

Vintage Ceramic Giraffe Planter, Orange, Navy Blue and White
Ceramic Giraffe Planter from modclay


Handmade Ceramic Elephant Planter in Pink and Orange Ombre - OOAK
 Ceramic Elephant Planter from hellosweetie

Hope you enjoyed this weeks installment of Etsy Weekends, come back next weekend to see what else we've found!