Oilcloth Headband with Photo Tutorial

Every time we go to Mexico I can't resist buying oilcloth at the fabric store. All the bright colors, fruits and flowers just make me so dang happy.

Here's a photo tutorial on how to make a lovely headband. It's pretty easy and looks pretty profesh. Enjoy!

Sorry, my usual photographer was taking a nap.


One piece of oilcloth, 1.75 in. x 18 in.
One package of double fold bias tape
One four-inch piece of 1/2-in. wide elastic

1. Cut two lengths of bias tape to run along the long edges of the oilcloth. Slip the edge of the oilcloth into the bias tape. It should fit snugly in there. Sew the bias tape in place, making sure you're sewing through the top layer of the tape, the oilcloth and the bottom layer of the tape

2. Using a zig-zag stitch, secure the elastic to the raw edge of the oilcloth.

3. Fold in the corners of the band so it makes a taper. Sew in place with a zig-zag stitch.

4. Place the headband around your head and adjust the elastic so it's comfortable. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other end of the band.

It's as simple as that. Only took me about 10 minutes total. 

Springtime Headband with Tutorial

The apparel store I work at always gets fun headbands in this time of year. They are simple construction with bright, pretty fabrics, but they always cost way more than I'm willing to pay. Eighteen dollars? I could just make the same thing with materials I already have at home. That's free!

Here's step-by-step instructions on how to make your very own springtime headband. Enjoy!

A piece of cotton, 18 in. x 4 in.
5-inch piece of 1/2-in. thick elastic

1. Cut your fabric to a dimension you prefer. I wanted about a two-inch thick headband, so I cut my fabric to be 4 inches wide (it's a little narrower than two inches because of the seam allowance). You also might have a different sized head from mine, so you could always measure the circumference of your head and subtract four inches.

2. Sew your fabric together on the long edge, right sides together. I use a very small seam allowance. I line the fabric up with the edge of the foot. You are essentially making an inside-out tube. Turn your tube right-side out and iron flat with the seam going up the middle. This will be the inside part of your headband.

3. Iron the edges in on each side of the strip so that no raw edges show.

4. Place the edge of the elastic inside one of the ends of the fabric strip so about 1/2 inch of the elastic is inside. Sew in place using a zig-zag stitch.

5. Iron in the corners of the same side of the strip so it makes a tapered edge. Zig-zag stitch the folds in place.

6. Now place the headband around your head and figure out how much elastic you will need to make it comfortable. Once you've figured that out, repeat steps 4 and 5 on the other edge.

Presto! I think I'm gonna whip out several of these for my friends.

Baby Blanket

I've been waiting to post this project because I didn't want to spoil the surprise for my friend Lizzie. She is having a baby girl any day now. I just sent this out to her last week. It's just a big, crocheted granny square with added trim and flowers.

Breakfast Skillet

This is supposed to be a weekend breakfast skillet, but it's so dang tasty and easy I've started making it during the week.

Serves 2
4 eggs
6 Tbs. milk
2 slices of bread, cut into cubes
2 green onions, chopped
2-3 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
4 baby portobello or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 Tbs. butter
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. In a small frying pan melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute till they are lightly browned on all sides. Set mushrooms aside. In an oven-proof medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat till crispy. Set aside the bacon and reserve about a tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan. Add bread cubes from only one slice of bread and brown on all sides. Set aside with the untoasted bread cubes. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and milk in a mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, green onions, bacon, mushrooms and cheese. Add the egg mixture to the now empty pan and stir around for about a minute, till eggs are just starting to set. Fold in all the bread cubes and pat everything down with a spatula. Place in oven and cook for 7 minutes.


Beluga Point

One of the best things about living in Anchorage is you are always merely minutes away from beauty and nature. After dinner last night, Stephen suggested we go for a drive. Fifteen minutes later we pulled off the highway at Beluga Point and enjoyed the scenery. Steve is convinced spring is on its way, but I'm skeptical. We've been blessed with clear bright skies for two weeks, but the low clouds have started to set in and I think we're due for more snow. I can't wait for break up!


Homemade Granola

My coworker Bryan gave me this easy recipe for homemade granola. Be sure to use rolled oats and not any kind of instant, quick cooking oatmeal. Also, I'd look for white chocolate that does not contain palm oil, as I've heard that stuff is really bad for you. I used Ghiradelli white chocolate in bar form, not the baking chips.

Be creative with this recipe. I used different kinds of nuts and dried fruits. Bryan originally had canned mandarin slices, which was really tasty.

1.5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup dried mixed fruit, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mixed nuts
1 4-oz. bar of white chocolate

Preheat oven to 220 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine the oats and apple sauce. Add the fruit and nuts and mix thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread out the granola on the pan. Bake in the oven for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the chocolate finely. Place half of it in a mixing bowl. When granola is done baking, add it to the mixing bowl and top with the rest of the chopped chocolate. Mix thoroughly until chocolate is melted. Place in a gallon ziploc bag and store in fridge.


Blue Skies, Smiling at Me Scarf

My sister-in-law just loved my recent Cotton Candy scarf, a pattern from pickles.no that she asked me to make her one. She loves blue, so I decided to combine a light blue acrylic from Cascade with a silvery grey mohair from Rowan. I call it the Blue Skies Scarf.


Corsages and Boutonnieres -- A Tutorial

My friend Rosey is organizing a banquet Saturday and she decided to make her own boutonnieres instead of paying for them. The first job I ever had was working in the flower shop at my local grocery store when I was 14. I picked up a lot of techniques that have been useful in my crafting endeavors throughout the years. I was totally stoked about teaching Rosey how to make boutonnieres since I won't be able to make them for her banquet.

The following is a tutorial on how to make gorgeous boutonnieres. I've posted a tutorial in the past, but this one is more thorough since I had a second person to take photos. Please excuse my dirty, unmanicured nails.

Oh, and happy St. Patrick's Day! My friend Josh came over toward the end of the night and I taught him to make his own boutonniere. You'll see him at the end enjoying a Guinness. 


1. A sturdy flower such as a rose, carnation, or chrysanthemum. I prefer tiny spray roses.
2. Corsage accessories such as a piece of fern, ivy, a leaf, twig, berry, bead, baby's breath, small greenery
3. Ribbon (not satin as it's tricky to work with. Wired ribbon is preferred)
4. Wire cutters or scissors you don't care about ruining
5. Floral wire
6. Floral tape
7. Scissors
8. Pins for securing corsage
9. A pen, straw or dowel (not pictured)
10. Needle-nosed pliers (not pictured)

Step 1:
Each element of the corsage is going to be individually wired and wrapped. Trim the flower about an inch below the bloom. The other plant accessories should have about two inches of bare stem. Tear off any branches or small flowers that get in the way of the stem. Create a bow with your ribbon. 

Step 2: Cut about 7 inches of wire for each corsage element. Straighten out the wire as best you can, then fold each wire in half. 

Step 3: We'll first start wiring the main flower. Take one end of a piece of wire and stick it through the base of the flower. Roses are very sturdy. Carnations are a little more delicate so be more careful. Run the wire through the flower till you get to the crimp where you folded it.

Step 4: Wrap the edge of the floral tape around the base of the bloom, where you inserted the wire. Tightly wrap the tape around itself a couple of times so it's secure, then begin twirling the flower so the tape wraps down the stem.

Stretch the tape as you go and firmly run your thumb along the tape as you secure it. This will help it stick better. Wrap the tape all the way to the bottom of the wire. Tear or cut the tape and stick it to itself to hide the end.

Step 5:

Wire and wrap your plant elements by placing the bent part of the wire in the crux of the lowest branch. Use needle-nosed pliers to crimp the fold of the wire to better secure it to the plant. Then wrap the wire in the same way as in step 4.

Repeat step 5 for all other plant elements.

Step 6: run wire through the back of your bow. Crimp the fold of the wire with pliers and wrap the wire with floral tape. If using wired ribbon, curl the ribbon using a straw or pen.

Step 7:
All your elements should be wired and wrapped.

Now you're going to place the elements together in a way that pleases you. I usually start with the plant elements in the back, followed by the main flower and ending with the bow. Bend the wires till they are situated well, then twist all the wires around each other. They will stick together.

Step 8:
Wrap the whole clump of wires with floral tape starting at the top and working your way to the very bottom of the wires. Cut the tape and wrap it into itself so the end doesn't show.

Step 9:
Using a pen or straw, wrap the wire around to make a decorative spiral.

Step 10:
Bend the spiraled wire upwards a little and rearrange all the elements so they are just so. Place in a tupperware container and set in the refrigerator till ready to wear. These should keep well for a whole day if not longer in the fridge. 

Guinness time!


Boiled Artichokes with Creamy Garlic Dressing

I have fond childhood memories of sitting down for dinner with a big bowl in the center of the table. I'd scrape a leaf of a boiled artichoke with my bottom teeth and toss the leaf into the bowl. My parents would do the same, which made dinnertime all the more fun.

Fresh artichokes are a small luxury if you live in Alaska. They aren't cheap and often they don't make it up here in great shape. Every once in a while the grocery store will have an artichoke special and that's when I make a simple appetizer of boiled artichokes. Dip each leaf into melted butter or make a creamy dressing like this recipe. I've also included step-by-step instructions on how to eat an artichoke in case you've never had the opportunity.

Fresh artichokes, one per person
equal parts low-fat mayonnaise and fat-free plain yogurt (about 1/4 cup of each)
1 clove of garlic, minced
freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of salt
juice of 1/2 lemon or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

If your artichoke has lots of pokey spikes on the tips of the leaves, chop a few inches off the top of the bloom. It's not necessary, but it makes the artichoke easier to handle.
Place your artichokes in a large stockpot and fill the pot with water. Your artichokes will probably float, but that's ok. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot and place over high heat. Once boiling, turn down the heat to medium-low and allow artichokes to boil for 45 minutes.

While artichokes boil, combine the other ingredients in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till artichokes are done.

To test the doneness of your artichokes, tug at one of the inner leaves with some tongs. If the leaf pulls out easily, your artichoke is done. If you have to tug on it for a while before it comes out, it's not ready. Boil another 5 or 10 minutes.

When your artichokes are done, transfer them to shallow bowls with a small sieve or slotted spoon. Let them cool for 5 minutes before eating. Allow the cooking water to cool to room temperature and use it to water your plants.

How to eat your artichoke:
1. Place a big empty bowl in the center of your table
2. Discard the very outer leaves, as they tend to be tough
3. Remove a leaf and scrape the lower inside half of it with your teeth (I prefer to use my lower teeth, but whatever seems right for you is good).
4. Discard the leaf in the bowl
5. Eat as many leaves as you can in this fashion, turning the artichoke as you go.
6. Eventually the leaves will be so tender you can't really scrape them. These are ok to eat the entire ends of (I wouldn't eat the tips)
7. When the leaves get too thin and tender, use a spoon to scrape them away. Beneath these leaves will be a layer of hairy bits. Scrape all the hairs away and you'll reveal the heart of the artichoke. This is my favorite part. Dip the whole heart into your creamy sauce and eat all of it but the stem.


Cotton Candy

Pickles has done it again -- inspired me to make something different and awesome. Springtime is right around the corner, but for us Alaskans, this time means anything from sunny cold days to whipping wind. Nothing is more appropriate than the Simple Luxury Scarf (or as I'm calling it, the Cotton Candy). It's light and airy, delicate and soft. It's perfectly bulky and squishy.

I used a combination of Cascade Yarn's acrylic aran and some Rowan mohair/silk combo. The affordable price of the Cascase made up for the expensive mohair.

I learned my lesson on this project never to buy cheap needles. I bought some long, plastic 15 circular needles the other day and this was my first time using them. They broke halfway through my project. Thanks to a shoddy hot glue gun, I was uncomfortably able to finish, and I am happy I did.

Pickles' pattern is pretty straightforward. I have yet to understand grams instead of meters or yards. I used one 100g ball of Cascade, about 240 yards, and one 25g ball of mohair, about 220 yards. The pattern calls for two 50 g balls of mohair but the 25g ball was perfect for my one ball of aran. I only had about 12 inches of mohair left when I finished the project. The other thing that wasn't really explained was the reason for the final K3M1 row. I wasn't sure if it was M1F like I'd been doing the whole time, but I just did a regular make one and it created a pretty decorative edge.

Definitely a project worth doing again and again.


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