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Posted by on Dec 15, 2011 | 4 comments

Make, Freeze, Swap: How to Host a Soup Exchange

Make, Freeze, Swap: How to Host a Soup Exchange

I was very excited when I received my invitation to attend the third annual soup exchange hosted by my friend Lori. She gave some serious thought to the logistics of the event and in year three, she pretty much has it down to a science. What’s a soup exchange? It’s when several invitees make a different kind of soup each. At the event, everyone exchanges some of their soup with the others to take home. Simple as that. Lori did some online research and discovered that these events are quite popular. There’s even an annual soup swap day on January 21. You can go about the exchange in many different ways. Here’s how we did it this time around: Lori sent out an evite and got 8 respondants, each of whom shared a soup recipe with her. Mine was mushroom barley. A week before the exchange, she sent out these instructions: 1. Make soup – enough for at least 6 cups per person, including you. That’s 48 cups! 2....

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Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 | 3 comments

Home-Grown Loofah: Cleaning the Eco-Friendly Way

Home-Grown Loofah: Cleaning the Eco-Friendly Way

One of the best parts about DIY is that you are always learning something new. One little tidbit I just learned is that you can grow loofah right in your backyard. I never knew those hard spongy things you use as a body scrub were actually plants, let alone something you could grow yourself. Local resident Mellenie Runion grows and sells loofah as part of her business, Truly-Life Eco-Friendly Gifts. At the recomendation of a friend, I stopped by her house over the weekend to see what growing loofah was all about. While the recent cold snap has been harsh on the loofah plants, there were still a few holding strong on the vines. They grow in full sun and need supports like the ones you would have for tomatoes. Next year Mellenie plans to build a small structure to better support the plants. After the loofah have grown (they look a lot like cucumbers), you simply remove from the vine, peel off the green exterior, and let them dry...

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Posted by on Dec 13, 2011 | 2 comments

DIY Winter and Holiday Wreaths

DIY Winter and Holiday Wreaths

Holidays are meant for wreaths. Oh how satisfying it is to make your own wreath using objects from nature or leftovers from another project. Here we share four ideas for making wreaths using pinecones, yarn scraps, acorns and ornaments. Silver Pinecone Wreath For this wreath you’ll need a straw wreath form (available at Michael’s), tacky glue, spray paint, and about 40-50 small to medium-sized pinecones. Use tacky glue to attach the first row of pinecones. Let this dry for a few hours. Because the tacky glue takes time to harden, I knew it would be difficult to attach the pinecones on the sides without them falling off. So I used some thread to stabilize the sides to the first row that was already attached. I let the pinecones sit over night so they would be completely stable. Then I cut off the string, painted with a silver metallic spray paint, and hung on my door. I still think it needs a big red bow or something, but it’s looking quite festive. Shared...

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Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 | 3 comments

Small-Scale Studios for Young Artists

Small-Scale Studios for Young Artists

I’ve recently chatted with several parents about how they display their kids’ art. Which ones do you keep, which ones do you sneak in the trash so your kids don’t see, and how do you encourage creativity in a small space without your house feeling cluttered or looking like a daycare center? Here are few ideas. In my house, I designated a small wall in the dining/living room area as a place to keep art supplies organized and to display the kids’ favorite projects. Jack loves having his own “art wall.” I attached an IKEA RIBBA ledge shelf on the upper part of the wall. This serves double duty — displays art projects and hides the awkward thermostat. The pictures only lean alongside the thermostat and do not block airflow to the register. A string hanging below the shelf holds additional projects, attached with small binder clips. This rod with hooked cannisters (also from IKEA) holds markers, crayons, and glue sticks. Need some markers? Just unhook the can and take to the table....

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Posted by on Dec 7, 2011 | 0 comments

The Alexandria Knitsters Handknit Holiday

The Alexandria Knitsters Handknit Holiday

The Alexandria knitting meetup I belong to is consumed with their holiday gift knitting these days. Come September, these avid knitters don their elf hats and begin to produce gorgeous handknit hats, scarves, shawls, shrugs, socks, and headbands for loved ones. How I wish I had a place on their gift list! At one of the regular Tuesday get-togethers, I took photos of the projects that are, admirably, either done or well on their way. This exquisite shawl was begun earlier in the year and is a gift for Mom. The close-up reveals the beautiful lace detail. Another knitter is making cabled headbands for several nieces on her list.     These super fun hats are gifts for a multitude of nieces and nephews. I love the white one with the handknit light saber on the front. The knitter of this lively shrug may keep it herself if she doesn’t think of the perfect recipient. The buttons are removable and can be positioned in different spots. A handknit golden snitch is...

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