Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Greenwycke Press is now open

I finally opened an Etsy account.  I even have an item up!  Go me!

I'll add more stuff to it later, like the wands, staves and other candles that I have.  For right now, I am too lost in NaNoing to accomplish much with Etsy.

I am testing how long my red tapers take to burn.  First, burning a 4 inch flax-wick one.  I started burning it at 4:05.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book review: "The Year of Living Biblically."

I'll start off by saying that I am neither Christian nor Jewish, but I think those faiths are important.  I also respect those who follow them.  The author of this book, A. J. Jacobs, did not initially feel much respect, but was open minded about religion as he pursued the goal of following the bible to the letter for a whole year.

He met with people from many different traditions (The Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, various Orthodox rabbis, and a bunch of other people.) and also traveled to places like Jerusalem.  It is both a fascinating and a fun read, especially for those who have ever wanted to know what all those proscriptions are that the bible really has for people's lives.

It also reminds me of a ritual that I did for several months.  Every night I would light candles and pour a small glass of wine.  The wine was $13.00 a bottle, and with the size of my glass, two bottles were needed each month.  I complained to myself as I poured at first.  I tried to skimp out, pouring only half a glass.  I came up with various excuses as to why I couldn't pour a glass that evening ("I am too tired" was much used.)  I griped about how much it cost, and how the glasses of wine weren't being put to any good purpose.

Eventually, though, I came to terms with it.  I accepted the cost of the wine as part of my monthly budget.  Complaining about the wasted money came back to haunt me when I wanted to buy things that weren't necessary and which I wouldn't care about after a short while.  Why should I care about wasting money on wine when I would waste it on other useless things?

Anyway, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible is an excellent exploration of faith and the effects of ritual upon our lives.  I might use this as inspiration for adding a few rituals to my life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Willow bark jar

I love herbs.  One of my personal goals is to know what any local plant is that I spot, whether in a store or in the wild.  My progress is slow because few people have that sort of knowledge these days.  Once upon a time, though, when we did not go to the store for pills for every sort of ailment, people knew what to gather in order to fix what.

I started on this little quest not just because I love history and pagan practices.  There is a more basic reason:  I wanted to stop paying for stuff.  Thus I have been learning to make my own tools, and slowly gaining herbal knowledge.  So far I know how to cure a headache (willow bark) and how to cure nausea (blackberry leaves).  The best part is that I never get headaches, and the people I know wouldn't ever take willow bark tea if I offered it to them.  Ah well.  On to the fruit of my efforts.

I want to save at least a jar full of every herb I know about. This is a jar of willow bark, the first one I learned of.  Dried raspberry leaves will come next.

I make my window into a display, because our apartment is small and shared by three people.  This is my only space to show the world that I am awesome. (This is just a temporary picture.  I'll take another tonight after I get my lights all set up.  The willow bark jar is to the right of the lantern, though, if you can see it.)

My herb books don't have instructions for doses, but this website ( suggests the following: Boil 1 - 2 tsp of dried bark in 8 oz of water and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes; let steep for ½ hour; drink 3 - 4 cups daily.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sword recovering

This is a scabbard that I have been meaning to recover for two years.  I forgot to take a picture of it when I finally got the coverings off, which I have been trying to do on and off for those same two years.  I was so excited I had to start working on it immediately.

I don't know what the wood is, but I am covering it with purple velvet.  There will also be some green trim, and more pictures will come when it is done.

I took this when it occurred to me to record this for posterity.  There is a brass covering for the bottom which is round.  This, however, is not round.  Pointy!  :D

Incidentally I tried to recover a chair with this same method.  The chair is sad looking, but the frame is falling apart anyway so my failed upholstery fixings don't matter.  Sometime I'll take a picture to show you what I mean.  (I even used the same fabric.)

More pictures will be forthcoming when this project is more complete.  There is a spot I seriously need to fix before showing off.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Accidental ice sculpture

Crafts are fun, and sometimes we accidentally make them.  This is the result of my leaving a plastic cup full of water in the freezer to get cold.  I have since decided to just get an ice cube tray and add ice.

It looks nifty, I think.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cookie update

I had decided to make cookies for people at work.  I used the "Country Save" sugar cookie mix that I had used previously.  Unfortunately, I decided to use some vegan butter that someone gave me rather than regular butter.  Somehow the cookies got that potatoes-ish flavor many of my vegan/gluten free cookies get.  :/  Sad.

So let this be a lesson:  Don't experiment with different types of butter (Or other ingredients) when you are planning on serving what you are making to other people.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Button cookies

I came across these in a holiday craft idea book at the library.  It seems many people of the internets have made them, but I figure my attempt won't hurt anything.

I used a boxed mix.  The mix was purchased before I got the idea to make these, in a fit of "I am tired and have been ogling this $1.00 forever."

Here is the end result.

This is an individual cookie.

And here are many more cookies, fresh from the oven.  The nice thing about the outer ring is that it gets brown first, which provides a warning that the cookies are almost done.

And of course cookies go great with...more cookies.

I think they look lovely all piled up together.  If I had frosting I would thread the holes.

These are the well-done cookies.  I like burnt things, so I happily ate them after the pictures were done.

In this picture are the tools I used to decorate.  Two biscuit cutters from a set of graduated sizes.  I picked one that would make decent sized cookies, then took one that was just a size smaller.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Miceli's cheese

First, background on vegetarian/kosher cheese:

If you eat kosher food or vegetarian food but like cheese, you are probably aware that buying it is a daunting research project.  Cheese companies do not often label whether or not their cheeses are vegetarian or not.  There are also companies who will label some cheeses but not all.

The reason cheese is not always vegetarian is because of a product called rennet.  This originally came from the stomach of calves, which has a certain bacteria that adult cows lacked.  This bacteria allows the calves to break down their mother's milk.  Nowadays the bacteria itself can be made in a lab or with plants of some sort (I am not sure on the process, sorry!) and there is no taste difference.  Seriously, if the cheese isn't labeled, there isn't any way to tell the difference.

The bacterial ingredient in cheese is listed as either 'enzymes' or rennet.  If a manufacturer wants to denote whether the bacteria are non-animal, they can put microbial enzymes or microbial rennet on the label.  If a label has a kosher symbol, that also denotes vegetarian friendly cheese, because Jewish dietary restrictions insist on no mixing of meat and dairy.  If there is nothing on the label, the manufacturer usually has a 1-800 number that can be called.  Unfortunately, many employees have no idea about the rennet and are surprised by the question.

Now the story:

I received two balls of Miceli's mozzarella cheese.  Balls of mozzarella are exciting and round and delicious.  I loves me some mozzarella.  These mozzarellas were not labeled, however, so I found the number for the manufacturer and called them.  The person who answered the phone was friendly and courteous, but couldn't answer my question when I asked what type of rennet they used.  I expected to have to give the cheese away, but then she said she'd put me on the line with Mr. Miceli.

I got to talk to a person at the head of the company!  He said he would have to call me back about it after asking some other people in his company.  And he called back!  And it was microbial rennet!  Yay!

In short, I think Miceli's is an awesome company.  I only wish that I had more reasons to call.  Because that was just cool.  Also, I may start a cheese crusade, calling companies and asking them to label whether their cheese is vegetarian friendly or not.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Update on those candles

After some discussion with roommates, I added some girth to those candles.  They have a different flicker than store bought ones, but they work very nicely.  The flames are really high, but they don't seem to burn faster than normal candles.

I also experimented with flax string as a wick, and also have made red candles using leftover wax and pillar candles that no longer function.  I like them.

Home-made drill

This one isn't completely done, but I was uploading pictures to sell some things anyway, so I figured I'd make a post.

I read several books and watched films about making knives, and decided to try the simple method of gluing two blocks of wood together around a blade.  There is definitely a big gap in there (You should be able to see part of the metal through the slit.  If I had a clamp, I could have smooshed the wood close together, but all I had was string.  There is an effective way of clamping things with string and another piece of wood, but unfortunately I've forgotten exactly how to do that.  i'll have to experiment in the future.  This tool works well enough that I'm not going to bother.

I will be wrapping some flax fiber thread around it, because I am worried about its long term stability.  However, this thing does actually work!  I am amazied that it fits together as well as it does, because I had to saw it in half while holding onto it.  Yay for having no clamps or vice grips...or work table.  I made this thing while sitting on the couch.

Since I am no smith and don't have the tools to do a lot of metal-working, I just sanded this drill bit into the shape I wanted.  It was originally a rectangular thing with a circle on the end that came with a multi-tool, and I have no idea what it is meant for.  Since I had no use for it, I decided to modify it for this.  Yay!

Later I'll take some pictures of the finished thing and the holes I've drilled with this.  Haven't drilled all the way through anything yet (And with as small as the drill is, I can't drill through very long things), but I have made holes on the end of some wands.  Wands which I also need to take pictures of.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Join the FBI and shoot a car!

I have been in search of a second job, so nothing too crafty right now.  (Though I do have a homemade drill that I will be posting pictures of soon.)

However, I came across this and wanted to share it with you all.

So apparently if you join the FB, you can get a weird futuristic car (Because the FBI always draws attention to itself.) and you can shoot it as well.  I love the range of ages allowed too.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Frolicking with the Parasol

The roommates and I got a chance to go outside and play with the parasol, after which we took the cat out for some play time.  (This project is for the Handmade Artists Forum shirt revamp, which can be found here -,3942.0.html)

First, here is a size comparison with a human:

Second, here in Washington, we worry about whether it will be sunny, rather than whether it will rain.

Next, a failed attempt to look up at the pocket inside the parasol.


It is so easy to look elegant when you have a froofy thing over your head.

Finished shirt revamp!

I have finished my shirt revamp project, for this contest:,3942.0.html  Not sure what I thin of the results.  I'll have to look at them in a few more months to decide.

First, the shirt:

I chose this shirt because it had interesting lines which I thought I might be able to use.

Now, the finished parasol:

I found it hard to take a picture because I had no one to model it and an arm that was too short to hold the camera away.  The frame, including the pole, is made of wire.  The ribbon is wire-edged ribbon, which gives it a nice shape.

Here is a close-up to prove that yes, it was a shirt.

I left the other pocket whole and sewed it against the frame.  That way I could put some valuables in it if I take this thing outside. (Not likely, as my town has very little sunshine.)

Here is what the underside looks like.  I took metal wire that had been coiled a long time, snipped off a few loops, and then tied them together with yarn.  The fabric cover was sewn against the metal loops after it was finished.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When I was a young thing, we made candles.  Taper candles.  It is a fun process, most definitely, and a worthwhile activity for youngsters.  (We used paraffin wax, which does not burn if it is touched by curious fingers.  It is definitely hot, but no harm done.)  Recently I got it into my head that I should use my old skills and make some candles, but also do the wicks by hand.  So two days ago I got out the wax and cotton, and had some fun.  Here are the results:

I think they look rather classy hanging off of my monitor.  (Maybe not so classy, but it was a convenient place to put them while I looked for a permanent home.)  The candles on the left were made with green cotton yarn (Puffy stuff that is wrapped with thread.) and the ones on the right were made with white string that had been made into a rope.  The ones on the right turned out to be failures.  :/

This was taken yesterday when I decided to move them.  It doesn't take so long for them to cool down, but I prefer not to take any chances with warm wax.  (It does take awhile to make such things, and I have no desire to see them get bent out of shape.)  The green wicked candles are 4.5" long and 0.5" wide, and the shorter ones are 4" long and 0.5" wide

 Size comparison.  (No, my hand isn't huge.) These are very cute and small.

Okay, picture time is over.  Now on to the details of how well they've worked.  First, the mistakes.

I said the ones on the right were failures.  I made the error of using leftover string from bags of cat litter, since they rarely have a use for me and this was only experimental.  They seemed very cottonish and I was fooled.  Please be warned:  Never trust unsourced fibers.  I will try this with cotton thread later, but my intuition tells me that it was the fiber.  (Have you ever seen thread melt?  The flame leaps up and the fiber doubles over like a sick person.  Natural fibers don't do that.)

The candles on the left work rather well.  I'll have to find a better container for the wax - one that is tall but narrow.  A short and narrow can leads to the problem of diminishing wax, which means that the top of th candles taper slowly, rather than quickly.  This means that when the wick is first starting to burn, it burns very quickly and the flame is uneven.  Not very pleasant.  once it settled down, however, the burn was very nice.

In all, these candles burn nicely once they get started.  Once I have a taller wax container, these should burn much more evenly.  They will also be great for people who want to let a candle burn itself out, for whatever reason they may do so.