Get Happy! Music to Improve Your Mood

If this music by the Jive Aces doesn’t uplift you, there is always chocolate and bacon.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Enjoy Some Celtic Rock Music

Dropkick Murphys – I’m Shipping Up To Boston

You might also want to enjoy some Guinness Bread with Molasses today!

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Homemade Sugar Scrub

DIY Sugar ScrubI discovered this concoction in a magazine in which C&H® Pure Cane Sugar was promoting their product with the sugar scrub recipe. (I have combined this with hand-knitted socks and a rice heat therapy bag for the ultimate birthday gift.)

  • 1 cup C&H® Pure Cane Sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Oil from one vitamin E capsule
  • 1-2 drops essential oil (e.g., lavender, orange, lemon)
  • 1 16oz. glass container with a lid

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Using a spatula, transfer the mix into the container and secure the lid. Contents will settle, mix before using. Scoop a teaspoon or two of the scrub onto your hands/feet/elbows and gently massage in circular motions onto your skin. The scrub will tighten on your skin. Leave on for 3-4 minutes before thoroughly rinsing.

Download Free Gift Tags

free gift tags

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DIY Rice Heat Therapy Bags

I was inspired for this project by Little Birdie Secrets. I did change things up a bit.

  1. I made the rice bag out of cotton muslin which does well in the microwave.
  2. My rice mixture (brown rice) includes a few drops of lavender essential oil. I found this oil in the soap making section of Michaels. It is likely available at other craft stores. It may also be available at health food stores like Whole Foods. I poured the amount of rice needed for the bag into a bowl and then I added a few drops of oil and stirred it well. Don’t overdo the oil.
  3. I made pillow cases for the rice bag. If the rice bag is going to be used for heat therapy or to toast one’s feet, I thought it would be a good idea to have a washable cover. I selected cotton fabric as a precaution. If someone puts the entire thing (bag and cover) in the microwave accidentally, you don’t want a fabric that is flammable (e.g., polyester fleece).
  4. I tested the bag in the microwave and discovered that ONE MINUTE makes the bag plenty hot! This may vary if you make large bags. Be sure to test. It’s better to start the bag at one minute and to increase time in 20-second increments if necessary.

I am pairing this gift with a pair of hand-knitted socks and a jar of homemade sugar scrub for a complete gift package.

Sew Rice Bags for Heat TherapyI’ve made gift tags which you can download.

Download Free Gift TagsFree Downloadable Gift Tags for Rice Heat Therapy Bags

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Easy Knitted Sock Pattern for Beginners

I found the most amazing pattern, including video instructions, for knitting socks at Very Pink. I purchased the pattern (well worth it) and watched the videos, and now I completely understand how to construct socks. I never thought I could be excited about sock-knitting, but I am.  It’s all because Staci is such a good teacher!

Here is my first completed pair, which I plan to give to my mother for her birthday (part 1 of a 3-part gift that pays special attention to feet • Part 2: Rice Heat Therapy Bag • Part 3: Sugar Scrub).

Beginner's Knitting Pattern for Socks

I used worsted weight wool as Staci suggested, in this case I used Patons Classic Wool – Aquarium (color 77201).

DIY Sock Blocker for Knitted Socks

After I finished knitting the socks, I had to create homemade sock blockers, as the blockers I had were too large. I traced the edge of the plastic blockers onto 1/8″ thick cardboard; then I cut 1/4″ away from the traced line to create the smaller size. When creating the blockers, I thought they could do double duty and make nice packaging. Notice the ankle area of the cardboard blockers. I extended one end so that I could use a hole punch in that top corner.

DIY Sock Blocker Doubles as Gift Packaging

The hole provides a nice little place to run ribbon.

Using Sock Blockers as part of packaging knitted socks as a gift

Look how cool! Nice packaging makes a gift even more special. I created the tags especially for this project. I’ve made them available for you to download.

Download Free Gift Tags

Free Downloadable Gift Tags

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International Women’s Day 2011 – Women Still Not Equal to Men

Thank you Daniel Craig!

Craig has teamed up with EQUALS, a group of charitable organizations brought together by musician Annie Lennox in support of International Women’s Day on March 8.

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The Absolute Easiest Way to Peel a Potato

This is too good not to share. (Thanks Julie for letting me in on this secret!)

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Empire Waist Knitted Vest

Knitted Vest with Empress WaistI was so excited to wear my new sweater to work today. An Empire Waist (also called Empress Waist) is a flattering style for every figure!

This pattern is from Knit Tricks by Rebecca Wat. To knit the pattern (size L for me), I used 4 skeins of Deborah Norville Serenity Chunky Weight yarn (Almond Lot S1615). I also used size 11 needles as the pattern required. (The recommended yarn was Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair, which would have turned out a very lovely sweater, but I wanted to use yarn in my stash.)

Essentially, this is two rectangles with an eyelet middle for the ribbon. I used satin ribbon, but velvet ribbon would have been pretty too. The sides are seamed just a few inches above the lace section and the shoulders are seamed as well (about 4 inches). I adjusted the pattern to fit “the girls,” adding a few extra inches of knitting to the top of the rectangle.

I recommend you get this book. I found a copy at Half Price Books for $5.98. That price is a deal! The book has many easy and attractive patterns which you can knit quickly.

Knitted Sweater Vest with Empire WaistSweater vest knitted with Empire waist

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Ground Hog Day 2011 – Early Spring Prognosticated

Despite the prediction, cold, blizzard-like days call for curling up under the covers and watching a good movie or two. Today is perfect for one of my favorite comedies…yes, Groundhog Day!

Groundhog day 2011: how well can groundhogs predict the weather?
Rival groundhog, Mountain Maryland Murray predicts 6 more weeks of winter.

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Cats and Liberty

Rousseau - painted image

…Rousseau maintained that a person’s attitude to cats was a vital test of character. Those of a despotic nature “do not like cats because the cat is free and will never consent to become a slave.” A relationship with a dog, too should not be one of ruler and subject. […] Rousseau wrote, “My dog himself was my friend, not my slave: we always had the same will, but it was not because he obeyed me.”

Source: p282 Rousseau’s Dog: Two Great Thinkers at War in the Age of Enlightenment by David Edmonds and John Eidinow

About the book:

You’ll enjoy this book if you like celebrity love matches gone wrong or enjoy office politicking. After a “break-up” in the 18th century, celebrated individuals, in this case David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, waged war via news print (consider it early PR), which were plentiful in that day.

Their tiff at times was tiresome. I couldn’t help wondering why two profoundly intelligent men would bother which such silliness, but it all had to do with manners and being perceived a proper gentleman. I found myself longing for a duel or for one man to slap the other man’s cheek (with kid gloves would have been a nice touch).

Despite the tediousness of the wrong and the righting of it (which neither man ever perceived the wrong being righted), I enjoyed learning of the development of their individual ideas and of their personal alliances.

BTW – you’ll have to read the book to learn of the wrong!

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