Yarn Swift, The Smartest Purchase This Year

Maybe the title of this post says it all, but trust me, if you are a knitter, crocheter, weaving, whatever, save yourself hours of frustration and swearing and just buy a yarn swift. I really don’t know how I got by until now and I have no idea why I resisted. I think it was because I just didn’t want to spend the money. Also, I’m not really into the gimmicky things. But I had a few Etsy sales in one week, so I decided to treat myself. Plus, this seemed to be a legit time saver, unlike my long gone Slap Chop. I’ve been doing a ton of weaving lately so I’m going through wool like crazy – and untangling that crap like nobody’s business. Sometimes I feel like I spend just as much time untangling my yarn as I do weaving (I’m being dramatic now).

Yarn Swift

Naturally, my next purchase should be a ball winder, but I actually don’t mind balling yarn by hand now – it is actually very relaxing (I know, I’m weird).

I bought my swift online from Knit Picks (it got good reviews, plus free shipping) and so far I have no complaints. It is sturdy and beautiful and I just want to ball yarn all day (not really).

On another note, I appear to be back from the dead and feeling somewhat normal again (I haven’t been that sick for at least a couple of years). So I’m hoping to be able to get a few things done in the yard this week, as well as get around to adding a few new items to my Etsy shop. Yay for feeling normal again!

My Favorite Natural Beauty Products

The last few months have been spent purely indoors. Although the winter has been unseasonably mild here, my skin has been horrible. The air is dry and my skin wants to suck up any sort of moisture it can find. Normally I can get through the warmer months using much less moisturizer, but the colder months bring out my seasonal lizard skin to the maximum. Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favorite natural beauty products with you today:


1. Pacifica BB cream $22.00 – well.ca – I went through most of my 20’s not wearing much makeup until a couple of years ago because I found most products to either be too cakey or just greasy, causing me to breakout pretty badly. The BB cream is a light weight tinted moisturizer-type product that I use after I’ve used a regular daily moisturizer. My skin is weird in that it is dry and acne-prone so I have a lot of difficulty finding a coverup that doesn’t make my face look like cracked flaky concrete, but this one seems to do the trick for me.

2. Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner $13.29 – well.ca – I’ll be really honest and say that I bought this for the packaging but I actually really love it. I had a facial once (yes, once) and at that time was told one of the best things I can do for my face is to not dry it after I’ve come out of the shower – let your pores absorb the moisture. This was the best beauty advice I’ve ever been given but I’ve altered it slightly by adding a splash of toner to my face right before the water is completely dry, then use a light moisturizer. Sometimes in the winter I will use a bit of coconut oil before my moisturizer to prevent my skin from cracking or flaking.

3. Smith’s Rosebud Salve $9.00 – Indigo/Chapters – This is my go-to lip balm and you can also use it on cracked hands and cuticles – it smells great too.

4. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap in Rose $14.99 – well.ca – I dump a bit of this into my bath with some epsom salts to moisturize my skin. In the winter I usually follow with some coconut oil to prevent dry skin.

5. Ilia Lipstick $32.00 – freshfaced.ca – Sometimes I like wearing a little lipstick when I’m feeling bold, especially a pretty red like this one.

6. Yarrow Scrub $5.25 – Rocky Mountain Soap Co – Made locally and a great soap for dirty hands (I particularly love it for washing up after gardening).

7. Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser $36.00 – One Love Organics – A bit pricey but well worth the splurge. I love all of One Love Organics products but especially this cleanser.

8. Bamboo Charcoal Konjac Sponge $14.00 – freshfaced.ca – I use my Konjac a few times a week and it leaves my skin feeling really clean. The active charcoal is supposed to help with acne-prone skin as well.

Although it isn’t an exhaustive list, those are definitely my desert island products. What are some of your favorite natural products and what are some of the beauty products that you splurge on?

I am not affiliated with any of the product companies featured here or compensated in any way for featuring these products – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Laundry Favorites & DIY Laundry Soap Recipe

I am going to admit right away that I get really excited about good quality, functional and beautiful laundry care products. I actually get excited about a lot of simple things, like seeing the Canada Post guy walking up to my door, hearing the seal pop on canning jars, or using a new sharpie for the first time. Yep, simple things amuse simple minds. Anyway, I have this dream, like probably many people do, of having a really beautiful laundry room in my house. Of course, that is kind of an expensive dream that is a totally unnecessary luxury. Hell, I’m lucky to even be able to do laundry in my own house. My current laundry room is housed in my unfinished basement. The walls and floor are concrete (and not the pretty polished concrete you see in all the really expensive modern homes), all the plumbing and electrical is exposed, and the cat litter boxes are nearby. Not what you would call a laundry sanctuary. Maybe one day my laundry room dream will come true (we’re talking like 20 years here folks). But the current set-up is functional and I fill it with products that I love in order to make the laundry experience more enjoyable. Here are a few of my favorite products or things that are on my dream laundry room wishlist:


1. Mrs. Meyers Lavender Fabric Softener $7.99 & Dryer Sheets $7.99 – mrsmeyers.com – I don’t really like most scented laundry products, but Mrs. Meyers makes a really subtle lavender scented product. I hang dry most of my clothes so using a fabric softener is a must for me. The dryer sheets are nice for laundering bedding.

2. Wooden Drying Rack $115.00 – Rejuvenation – This is not the exact drying rack that I have but it is pretty close (I bought mine at Portland Homestead Supply in Portland, Oregon). I used to have a wire rack from either Wal-mart or Ikea but it was POS and it eventually became unusable. I’ve had my wooden rack for a couple of years now and it is showing no signs of wear at all.

3. Laundry Cart $249.00 – Old Faithful Shop – I don’t have this but I want it. I’ve wanted it for a few years but I haven’t been able to justify spending the money. It’s so pretty though.

4. Wooden Ironing Board $99.99 (on sale!) – West Elm – I don’t have this either but it is also on my wish list. My current ironing board is okay but isn’t the greatest quality or the prettiest. I like pretty things.

5. Wool Dryer Balls $26.99 – amazon.ca – I love these wool dryer balls, especially for bedding. I used to use the plastic/rubber dryer balls until I heard that they could be damaging to the sensors on your dryer. I have no idea whether or not that is true but I do like the wool balls and they do not bang around in the dryer like the old ones did.

6. XL Mason Jar $21.25 – amazon.ca – You’re probably wondering why I like mason jars in my laundry room. I use them to store my laundry soap and my laundry making supplies. They are perfect for the laundry soap because you can just shake the jar instead of having to keep a soapy whisk in your laundry area.

That brings me to my next point: I read a lot of articles about making your own cleaners and shampoo and yogurt and so on. I’ve tried some of those things and they work pretty well but it is debatable on whether or not they actually save you that much money. But the laundry soap is another story! A DIY laundry soap that works really well AND is really cheap to make?! This is it. I’ve been making it for about 3 years and it has never failed me. It will take you about 20 minutes to make and last for a couple of months (that’s for two people only). I have always been a bit hesitant to sharing my recipe because I want to keep the secret for myself but here it is for you all to go ahead and try out. Let me know what you think!

DIY Laundry Soap Recipe

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/3 bar of soap, grated OR 1 cup soap flakes (I’ve used both – soap flakes are easier)
20 cups of water (I use tap water)
Essential oils (optional – I use lavender and just add as much as I feel like at the time)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the borax, washing soap and soap flakes in 4 cups of water. Once dissolved, remove from stove and pour in to a large bucket. Add 1/2 the water, stir to mix, add the rest of the water and any essential oils you like and stir to mix. Let sit overnight or until the next day when you have time to transfer it into containers (I’ve left mine for as long as a couple of days and it doesn’t make a difference – it isn’t like rising bread or anything). Transfer to containers with lids and whisk or shake before use. 1/2 cup per load is more than sufficient.

Please note: I have a front loading HE washer and this soap works great in cold or hot water.

I am not sponsored or affiliated with any of the products featured in this post, I am just very fond of these products!

My Favorite Seed Starting Supplies

It’s that time of year again – that time where I drag out the shelves, lights, trays, dirt, seeds, etc. and start the planting process! Also known as the time of year my husband resents me the most (maybe not really). But that nice clean space in our dining room that once existed has now been claimed by a huge mess of plants and bright lights. I’ve greatly expanded my seed starting operation over the last couple of years, mainly to save some money (I’ll show you my set up in a few weeks). I grow a lot of plants and if I were to buy them all at the nursery, I would be broke. The initial investment can be a bit, mainly the shelves and the lights, but after that the only real expense will be soil and seeds, which is fairly minimal. I decided to put together an inspiration board of all of my favorite seed starting supplies in anticipation of starting my seeds in the next couple of weeks:


1. Seed Markers $9.10 – Kaufmann Merchantile – Essential for writing down what seed you’ve planted and the date you planted it. When planting tomatoes, I also make note whether or not is in indeterminate (i) or determinate (d) so I know which ones to transplant directly into pots in the spring. I like the wood markers because they will eventually break down in the compost but I also don’t mind using the plastic ones as they can be cleaned and re-used.

2. Grow Light $39.97 – Home Depot – I purchased an inexpensive shop light a few years ago and it works great – just make sure the bulbs you purchase are daylight bulbs – I asked an employee for help picking the right bulbs. The best part of these lights is that the height is adjustable for various growing stages and if you use the wooden shelves, you can easy screw in a few of those little hooks for ease of light hanging.

3. Notebooks $14.00 – Rifle Paper Co – I keep a notebook of seed starting schedules, when things were transplanted into larger pots, etc. It is great to reference back the next year instead of re-inventing the wheel every year.

4. Heating Mat $42.15 – Amazon.ca – Perfect for getting seeds like peppers and tomatoes to germinate quickly. I only keep my heating mat on until all of the seeds have germinated and then it goes back in to storage (it fits inside of my seedling trays so it isn’t take up any additional storage space to have it).

5. Seed Starting Mix $5.95 – Good quality seed starting mixture is essential. I don’t buy this specific brand, but I buy a locally made product from the nursery. I always underestimate how much I will actually need and usually end up having to make multiple visits to the nursery to stock up.

6. Pot Maker $19.57 – Kaufmann Merchantile – I have a similar one from Lee Valley and it is not an essential, but it is very fun to use and is a good reuse for newspaper you would otherwise throw in the recycle bin. Perfect for starting flower seeds that you will directly transplant into the garden.

7. Seeds – Happy Cat Farms – Obviously you need seeds, but why not try out something new that you’ve never planted before. This year I am trying out cow peas, orach, shiso, and fava beans!

8. Seedling Trays $5.95 – Veseys – I love these trays because they are very space efficient, inexpensive and are re-useable – and they stack for easy storage when not in use.

9. Plant Tray $9.95 – The garden centre sells a lot of flimsy plastic trays which I hate – I need something sturdy that will hold up to being brought inside and outside during the hardening off stage. Last year I finally invested in a good quality tray with taller sides that is made from a much sturdier plastic and I can’t express how much easier it has made that aspect of the spring for me.

10. Shelf $109.00 – Ikea – I can quickly become surrounded by seedlings as it nears planting time and being able to keep things in layers is so much less chaotic. Plus I can actually use these shelves in my basement for storage in the off-season (having things do double duty in my smallish house is essential!).

Do you start seeds in the winter time? What are some of your favorite seed starting supplies? I’d love to hear any feedback!

Shameless Self-Promotion

Several years ago I decided to take up sewing as a hobby. I borrowed a sewing machine from my mother-in-law, and my husband taught me the basics. It seems a little odd that my husband would be teaching me this skill, but where I grew up, there were not a lot of options in school for “fun classes”. You either took Art, Drama or Forestry (I despised Drama so I went with Art and Forestry). There was no Home Economics. A little weird since I grew up in a rural area, but whatever. The only other time I’d done any machine sewing before my 20’s was for a “small” craft project in 4-H (it was a denim backpack which was horrible to make and that I never finished). So I’m going to say I went in having no sewing skills whatsoever. I started off with a few small projects and then decided I really liked sewing, so I went ahead and bought my own sewing machine. That’s when my obsession with making aprons started. Aprons were my favorite thing to make because they are extremely cute and functional at the same time – and although most people primarily use aprons in the kitchen, mine get worn all around the house and garden. I kept making aprons for myself until I realized that I probably didn’t need any more for myself, but since they were my favorite thing to make, I had to figure out a way that I could continue making them, but not have a million of them in my pantry for myself. Plus you can only give away so many aprons as gifts before friends start faking excitement for yet another apron. So that’s when the idea of becoming a hobby seller was born and Etsy came into the picture. I’d been an Etsy buyer for several years, but only recently expanded into being a seller. I’m sure everyone knows what Etsy is, but for those who may not, it is an online marketplace for artists and sellers offering unique goods from around the world – I’ve purchased many amazing and affordable art prints, vintage wares, and arts and craft supplies over the years from Etsy sellers.

Setting up my shop has been interesting – I’ve made a few side sales outside of Etsy, but I’m still patiently waiting for my first Etsy sale! So with that said, I am currently offering $5.00 off any purchase for the week of October 17th-24th with coupon code 5FALL2014 – visit my shop here. And the other fun part is that my Alberta Etsy Team is also participating in sales for their own shops during this week! More information on the shops and sales can be found here.

Here is a sampling of the aprons that I have available:

Untitled design

Here is a photo of me in my favorite apron.


All aprons are made from start to finish by myself from a pattern designed by myself – I do not currently offer international shipping on my Etsy listings because they vary so wide country-to-country, but if you’re interested in a shipping quote, please contact me directly via Etsy. Thanks for hanging in there, we’ll get back to gardening next week!