12-13-14 links
1. Crafting a skinny leather belt is probably easier than you think!
2. Need a quick holiday gift? Whip up a chain and leather wrap bracelet.
3. Make modern and festive brushstroke ornaments.
4. These mini star piñatas can be used as ornaments, but you can also fill them with additional treats.
5. I really like the understated looks of these monochrome pinecone wreaths.
6. Sew a cool pyramid leather pouch. I bet felt or faux leather would work well, too.

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Don’t these super chunky wool blankets look incredibly warm and cuddly? Perfect for curling up under on a cold winter night, and they look beautiful even when not in use. There are lots of places to buy them, and if you don’t knit, employing a skilled knitter to make one for you is a great idea. But as a knitter, I can’t help but want to try my hand at making my own. So below I’ll give you some resources and ideas for making your own chunky knit blanket, or buying one pre-made.
chunky knits 1
Clockwise from top left: Nocturnal Knits for Free People, deas og mia, stadshemLily and Peabody

chunky knits 2
Clockwise from top: stadshem, loopy mango, kara rosenlund by little dandelion

In my quest to make my own blanket, I searched high and low for patterns and yarn. The trickiest part is finding the giant yarn, and the most visible resource for this is Loopy Mango. They sell the wool on its own, but they also sell kits that include the yarn, needles, and pattern to make your own chunky wool goodness in many luscious colors. They also give away the (simple) patterns. If you want real wool yarn, you can’t expect to do this on the cheap, but their yarn and kits were more than I wanted to pay. When I was doing some searching, I noticed that the yarn retailer Fabulous Yarn recommended BigStitch Merino Wool Bumps as a substitute for Loopy Mango (which they used to carry, but don’t any longer). Two bumps in light grey, plus a pair of Knitters Pride Basix Jumbo Circular Needles size 50 needles in 32″ length, combined with a free pattern, cost considerably less than the kit I had been considering. Here’s my progress so far:
chunky knit 1
I’m about a third done, but Delicious sees no reason to wait to incorporate the blanket into her couch nest. I’ll be sure to post an update when I’m finished.

Other shops with kits and supplies:
Colorways Gallery
Little Dandelion
Wool and the Gang

Several of the shops from the DIY list will also make a blanket for you, if you prefer.
Lily and Peabody
Loopy Mango
Natural Wool Knits
Colorways Gallery
Knitting Noodles
Wool and the Gang
Little Dandelion

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When it comes to the holidays, I’m normally kind of a Scrooge. I’m just not into traditional Christmas decor, and I find most holiday music grating. Some years I’ve even lobbied to skip getting a Christmas tree (Steven vetoed that). But this year I’m actually looking forward to the holiday season. I was even nodding along to Christmas songs the other day in the grocery store. My theory is that because of all we’ve been through over the past couple of months, I need a reason to celebrate. Whatever the explanation, I’ve found myself wanting to decorate for the season, and since we don’t have many decorations (see above), I’ve been trying to make a few. It doesn’t get much more festive than “JOY” in glitter, so I must really be coming around on the holidays (or else that head injury did more damage than I realized).
DIY holiday joy garland

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12-6-14 links
1. Intrigued by this homemade hairspray and volumizing powder.
2. Sew up some mountain pillows to bring a little bit of the outdoors inside.
3. Package and give paperwhite bulbs as an easy hostess gift (or grow them in glass bottles.)
4. Love the look of these clever copper pipe vases.
5. Give your table a rustic touch with this salvaged wood candleholder.
6. Make pretty marbled jewelry dishes out of clay and paint.


meyer lemon poppyseed yogurt loaf
One thing that I enjoyed about living in San Francisco was the abundance of citrus. It was so easy to grow there that a co-worker with a Meyer lemon tree in her yard would bring in big bags of lemons to give away. Given the differences in climate, I figured it wouldn’t be possible to grow citrus here in Portland, until I saw indoor citrus trees in a cafe in Sweden. If they could grow citrus trees in Sweden, I thought, it should be no problem here. So I did a little research, and it turns out that some varieties of citrus can live outside in a pot during the summer, and then come inside for the winter. So this summer I bought an Improved Meyer Lemon tree, put it in a pot, and kept it in the sunniest part of my yard. When it started to get cold this fall, first we brought it onto the porch, and then indoors.

Honestly, I had no idea if it was doing well, but then one of the green lemons that had been there for months started to turn yellow. And now I’ve got ripe fruit along with pretty white flowers, so it seems like it’s a happy little tree. Supposedly the flowers smell really nice, but when I hit my head in my accident I lost my sense of smell (hopefully it’ll come back, but no one can tell me for sure). My mom smelled them for me and said they smell like jasmine, which sounds wonderful.

meyer lemon tree
I figured I should make something extra-lemony to celebrate my very first lemon harvest, and I’ve always loved the combination of lemon and poppyseeds, so I made this loaf. I used a bundt cake pan to make it look extra special, but it’s really not very sweet, so it’s more like a cross between a quick bread and a cake. Of course I used Meyer lemons for my loaf, but you can substitute regular lemons, or even other types of citrus.
meyer lemon tree

Lemon Poppyseed Yogurt Loaf
Adapted from here.

1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (1 to 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cups poppyseeds
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a bundt pan, or an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. If using a loaf pain, line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Mix in the poppyseeds. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, on the stovetop over medium heat cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Flip it onto a cooling rack and place the rack over a plate or baking sheet. Poke it with a toothpick all over the top. Spoon the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For presentation, immediately before serving, dust with sugar by shaking the powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer over the cake.
meyer lemon poppyseed yogurt loaf

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