28 April 2014

On the Joy of Handmade with Lisa Jordan

In today's edition of our handmade interviews I'd like you to meet Lisa Jordan, a very inspiring wool artist living the rural life in the woods of Minnesota. She creates art that reflects the variety of textures and colors around her. The tiny worlds of fungi, moss, and lichens are particularly intriguing to her. Lisa uses primarily recycled and natural materials in her work, especially wool and wood.

Lisa Jordan

Apart from making intricate designs out of felted wool, Lisa shares her creative process, inspiration and daily musings on her blog, Lil Fish Studios.

How did you start crafting?
I can’t remember a time when my hands weren’t busy making something, but about 8 years ago I left the corporate world to raise my children, and at about the same time I discovered the joy of working with wool. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Why are you passionate about handmade?
I think the act of making something by hand, whether a scarf, a pie, whatever, is a loving act. Pieces made by hand have the maker’s story woven in them; they’re personal, and I value that connection. 

Felted stones by Lisa Jordan

How and where do you sell your products? 
I am incredibly lucky that through the years I have connected with “my people”… people who read my blog and who really “get” where it is I’m coming from in my work.  When I have pieces to sell, I do so mostly through my online shop.  I also participate as an Art-o-mat artist and some of my small pieces appear in Art-o-mat machines around the United States.

How much influenced do you get by the Internet in your creativity?
I see work online often that I think is thought-provoking or beautiful or clever and it makes me feel the urge to get up and do my work.  I can’t say I find my inspiration in the pieces themselves, as I’m at a point in my creative process where I’m focused on translating my own thoughts on nature to wool, but seeing others being creative makes me appreciate how incredible and varied we are, and makes me want to join in the fun.

On the Joy of Handmade with Lisa Jordan

Do you remember the first time you held a magazine your work was featured in? What was the feeling? 
I do!  I had made some gift tags out of old sewing patterns and CRAFT put a little picture of them in their magazine and sent me a t-shirt.  I was beyond excited then, and still get a thrill when something of mine shows up in print.  That will never become old hat for me. (and I still have the t-shirt)

On the Joy of Handmade with Lisa Jordan

How is your family involved in what you do? 
My young children love to sit down and needle-felt with me or stitch stones, and can point out many natural dyestuffs when we’re out for walks in the woods.  My husband will sometimes cards wool for me and good-naturedly deals with bowls of stones and bins of fiber crowding the dining room table.  Our life here together under poplar and pine is integral to how I relate to nature and without it, my work would be very different.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?  “Crafting a Life Under Poplar and Pine”  it’s my blog tagline and a reminder for me that I’m crafting this life, not just along for the ride.

If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?
That’s a difficult scenario to imagine, but I suppose I’d do less “doing” and more “being”. 

What does "being creative" mean to you?
It means valuing the process and result of self-expression, and that can come in many forms.

What advice do you have for people wanting to be more creative?
Stop thinking that you aren’t, and open your eyes to the ways in which you are.  I hear so many times from people who say “I’m just not that creative” because they’re comparing themselves to someone else, and that’s not fair.  Everyone comes from a different place, and has different stories.  Take joy in exploring yours.  

Connect to LIsa:
blog | shop | facebook | twitter | pinterest | flickr

26 April 2014

Simple Living Rabbit: In the Pocket

When he was a baby Muffin Rabbit went everywhere with me. He even hopped into my pants pocket once and that's how I took him to the beach.

Read more about the adventures of Muffin, the simple living rabbit.

24 April 2014

Which is Better for Hair: Lemon Juice or Vinegar?

In the three years that I've been no-pooing it was a habit of mine to replace hair conditioner with apple cider vinegar. I knew that some people used lemon juice instead of vinegar but because vinegar gave me great results I never tried lemon.

Which is better for your hair- lemon juice or vinegar based on pH

A few days ago Kanelstrand reader +glittermoongdes asked me to test the pH of lemon juice and see if it can safely be used instead of vinegar.

Which reminds me, if you still haven't read my post about how baking soda destroyed my hair, please do so.

And if you are doing the same to your hair, you are killing it slowly. Stop immediately.

Why pH matters?

Hair and skin are covered by a very thin fluid layer comprised of oil, salt and water, called the mantle, which is slightly acidic and has a pH balance of between 4.5 - 5.0.

This natural acidity of the hair and scalp prevents fungi and bacteria, and keeps the cuticle closed and healthy. If your haircare routine is too alkali your hair cuticles will stay open and your hair will be dry and brittle. But if you use pH balanced products, i.e. ones that are close to the natural pH of the hair (4.5 - 5.0) your hair cuticles will close properly which will result in healthy shiny hair.

But what's the case with vinegar/lemon juice? 

After an extensive research I am positive that vinegar and lemon juice are used interchangeably, and mostly depending on personal preference.

Both vinegar and lemon have long been used to make hair silky and lustrous. They work to restore luster by removing build up from other hair products. The acidity of vinegar and lemon juice leaves hair smooth and silky and detangles your hair. They fight dandruff and improve scalp health. They also stimulate the scalp and promote hair growth. Depending on your hair type, you may want to use a vinegar/lemon rinse once a week, or as often as three times a week.

Before I continue with the actual measuring of the pH let me explain that vinegar (as well as lemon juice) is a dilute acid that can be made more dilute using water, it can be neutralized using a base, but it cannot be made into a base. The term "pH" stands for "potential hydrogen" -- which means that the more free-floating hydrogen ions in a solution, the more acidic the solution is. Vinegar's pH will always remain at a number lower than neutral, no matter how dilute it is, because vinegar is an acid (source).

Pure apple cider vinegar has a pH 2.

pH of pure apple cider vinegar

Here is the pH of 2 tbsp vinegar diluted in a cup (250ml) tap water.

Pure lemon juice:

2 tbsp lemon juice diluted in a cup (250ml) tap water is slightly more acidic than 2 tbsp of vinegar diluted in a cup of water.

But when you dilute 2 tbsp of lemon juice in 2 cups of water you get a pH of about 3.5 - 4.

Edit: If you insist on getting the pH of your lemon juice rinse to 4.0 you can dilute 1 tsp lemon juice in 450ml tap water, which is roughly 1 3/4 cup.

In conclusion

The reason for using an acidic hair rinse is that it helps our cuticle scales to lie as flat as they can so they won't be torn off or won't allow stuff to pass into our hair shaft. In that sense, a vinegar or lemon juice rinse works toxic-free magic for a considerably less amount of money than the conditioner you can buy.

As you can see from the pH tests, lemon juice is a tiny bit more acidic than vinegar,  but it has the same qualities. There is no documented danger of using it as a hair rinse.

One thing worth noting is that lemon juice will lighten your hair in direct sunlight.

If you dislike the smell of vinegar, I have a solution for you!

Add some dried rosemary or rosemary essential oil to the bottle of vinegar that you're using and the smell will be gone. (thanks to Beth Terry for this tip)

Have you tried rinsing your hair with lemon juice or vinegar? What's your experience?

19 April 2014

Simple Living Rabbit: The Yawn

Does he get tired running in the garden? You bet! A yawn from Muffin Rabbit on a lazy sunny Saturday.

Read more about the adventures of Muffin, the simple living rabbit.

14 April 2014

On Crafting and Blogging with Alycia of Habitual Homebody

When I started this blog 4 years ago, I thought that giving back to the handmade community was the tiniest of things I could do to repay for what I learned (and keep on learning to this day).

That is why, after a few months' rest I am reviving the all-time favorite interview series featuring amazing artists from the virtual indie handmade world.

So today, I'd like you to meet Alycia of Habitual Homebody. I met her virtually in the very beginning of my blogging life and I kept on following her musings, travels and crafting in the years that followed. I love her creativity and the strength with which she copes with life's challenges. There is much to learn from this young lady and her determination. Read on.

Give us some background about yourself. Describe yourself and what you do.
Hi! I'm Alycia and I'm currently living in Pennsylvania with my husband and our two dogs Monty and Mabel. We are about to move to Colorado this summer though (where there are SO many yarn shops!). I do office work, but in my free time, I'm a crocheter and blogger. I've been crocheting for 2 years and blogging for 5 years.

How did you start crafting? Do you stick to only one craft?
I've always been into crafts since I was a kid. My mom is a seamstress, quilter, and crocheter so I was always around creativity as a kid growing up and encouraged to create. And her mother, my grandmother, enjoyed sewing and crocheting too. I like to play around with different types of crafts and keep my eyes open for pretty projects or DIYs that catch my eye, but right now I'm big into crochet.

Why are you passionate about handmade?
I love making something out of nothing. And the process of planning a project, finding the supplies I need, and working on it from start to finish is so entirely satisfying. It also gives my mind a rest from all the everyday worries when I have something fun to focus on. Handmade items are so personal and lovely. I especially love the online handmade community too.

How and where do you sell your products?
Currently I do not sell any of my products as I don't have the time to commit, but I used to sell on Etsy. I'd love to reopen my Etsy shop once things settle down (we are in the process of a big move) and sell some of my crochet wares!

How much influence do you get by the Internet in your creativity?
I get SO much inspiration from the Internet it's crazy and I love it! My main sources of inspiration are Pinterest and Ravelry. I find all the patterns for my crochet projects online, mostly for free through Ravelry, but I'll also peruse Etsy. I follow a lot of crafty blogs so I'll find patterns and project ideas that way too. I'm finally starting to feel confident enough in my crochet work to make a few of my own patterns too.

Why do you blog? What does blogging give you that crafting doesn't?
Blogging gives me the platform to share my projects and inspire others to create. I love interacting with like minded people and sharing about life with others who have similar interests as me.

What does "being creative" mean to you?
To me, being creative means expressing yourself in a way that gives you fulfillment and satisfaction while not being afraid to try something new. Finding inspiration in the smallest of things is all it takes to make creativity happen.

What advice do you have for people wanting to start crocheting?
What worked for me was watching video tutorials on YouTube. For whatever reason, I just couldn't grasp how to crochet when my mom tried to teach me (go figure!), but when I had access to video tutorials it was as easy as pressing pause or rewind to really understand what I needed to do. I have also made a few of my own video tutorials for beginners.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote? Share it with us.
I found this quote on Pinterest and it's always made me smile because it's so true!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."
Which then reminded me of this quote:
"Stop pinning and make things."

Here is where you can find Alycia:
Blog - Instagram - Twitter - Pinterest - Ravelry 

12 April 2014

Simple Living Rabbit: Spring Flowers

On a sunny spring day Muffin Rabbit is outside with us. I think he's missed all the nature smells and you can tell when you see him around the snowdrops and the crocuses.

Read more about the adventures of Muffin, the simple living rabbit.

11 April 2014

Surreal Photo Print Giveaway

Don't you just love spring? I feel empowered, excited and awake when I look at the blooming trees and flowers, and when I notice how fast the leaves are growing. Every living thing seem to be waking up from the long winter sleep and the sun gets warmer each day.

All this excitement reminded me how much I love to bring joy to the people around me, including you, my readers. That is why, I am reviving the giveaway series on Kanelstrand. Yes, prepare for awesome prizes, just like before!

This week you have a chance to win ONE OF THE TOP TEN SURREAL PHOTOGRAPHS for 2013 according to Smithsonian Magazine. That's right, I am the author and can't wait to send it to you wherever you are in the world.

The winner will receive a signed 8x10 inch photo printed on professional photo paper with original Epson eco-friendly dye inks that will last a lifetime. The print has a thin white border and is ready for framing. The value of this print is $30. The giveaway is open worldwide.

So, what are you waiting for, this stunning wall art is waiting for you! Enter the Rafflecopter. You only have one week! a Rafflecopter giveaway

04 April 2014

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

This is a step by step guide to finding a way to notice and love nature this spring. Why, you'd ask... because by noticing nature, even for a couple of minutes each day helps you hear your inner voice and little by little, as each day goes by you become a more real you.This, on the other hand will help you live a more authentic life, to be more productive, more creative and calm.

So, why don't you start this spring?

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

Open your window. Listen to the noises outside. Even if you're in the busiest of cities you will hear a nature sound - birds chirping dogs barking, the wind, even waves if you're lucky.

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

Nothing? Play a YouTube video with nature sounds on your headset. I did a quick search for you, here are the results.  That will even help you work better after the designated couple of minutes. You will instantly be transferred to the forest, a meadow, or the fields, depending on your choice.

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

Stop thinking about anything except for what you're hearing. Exclude your worries, shut down your eyes and absorb the sounds. It will be hard at first because city life may have turned you numb for nature and overly sensitive to achievement and competition but with time you will manage to go back to loving nature.

Whether you're driving or walking, don't hurry. Move slowly and try to notice all little nature details. Look down to the ground and kneel next to the flower you see. Smell it. touch it gently, feel the ground, last year's leaves that are covering it, the fresh new grass. Be quiet and observing. 

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

Stop by a tree, look at its blooming branches and tiny green leaves, touch it. Hold your hand on the bark and forget your worries. You will feel some resistance at first. You will probably find it stupid or childish but ignore those thoughts. Try to do this every day for a week and you will find yourself in a better shape.

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

Look up to the crown of the tree, you will hear and see a whole universe, a colony of bees, flies and butterflies having a feast on the tree's blooms. Hush... Listen to the buzz. There is a different life than going to and from work. There is a slow life, in tune with nature and you can live it. If you want to.

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

Those of you who feel brave enough and are willing to expand their communication with nature and converse with the trees, please read this post by +James Clair Lewis who taught me that you can communicate not just with the bees but with the trees as well.

A Beginner's Guide to Loving Nature in Spring

Spring is the best time to sparkle a new love to nature. Try it, you don't know where it will lead you but I promise it's a good place. 

02 April 2014

How to Simplify Family Craft Time

Forrest Espinoza is an artist, mother, and the founder of Artterro.  The Artterro brand is all about creativity, with a line of Eco Art Kits—open-ended art projects with natural materials, for kids and adults alike.  Along with nurturing her business, Forrest also blogs about family and creativity at Artterro’s Spark blog

One of the goals I have for my business is to inspire people to explore their own natural creativity.  At Artterro we believe everyone is born creative! But sometimes the pace of our modern lives gets in the way of that impulse to create, and arts and crafts project can seem like one more item on your endless to-do list!  So my hope is with this post, it will become a little easier to incorporate arts and crafts into your family's daily rhythm, no matter how short on time and space you may be. It really can be easy! You don't need a gorgeous family art studio right out of Dwell Magazine, or a walk-in closet full of high-end materials. Just a couple of shelves or drawers, a place to sit, and a few essential, affordable supplies.

How to Simplify Family Craft Time

Here are some simple steps to get started:

1. A Simple Art Supply List for Kids
Kids really don't need fancy art materials when they are first learning to draw, color, and create, just child-sized tools that work well.  Here's a shopping list to use as a guide (and you can also “shop” in your own home—you might have a lot of this tucked away already!).
  • plain paper
  • colorful paper
  • plain journals or mixed-media paper pads
  • glue sticks or glue
  • coloring tools (crayons for younger kids, colored pencils and markers for older kids)
  • kids scissors (with rounded edge) for younger kids and quality scissors for older kids (make sure they are the right size)
  • storage container for paper and tools (folders, shoe boxes, jars, etc. can work great!)
  • recycled materials from around the house (magazines, newspaper, empty plastic containers, ribbons, wrapping paper, etc.)
How to Simplify Family Craft Time

2. Family Art Supply Storage
Set up a small family art station at or near a convenient table. I find that most kids like to be near adults or other family members when they create, so the kitchen is a great central location. I use a combination of baskets, magazine holders and cups in my art cabinet at home--feel free to be creative when you look for containers. And don't worry too much about being perfectly organized. They're art supplies, not library books!

How to Simplify Family Craft Time

3. Make Art Happen!
Have the station where your child can easily reach it, and teach him or her how to get materials and how to put stuff away. Young kids love being independent, and it's great to build on that skill at an early age. Drawing can be a fun and relaxing thing for kids to do in the evening when they are waiting for dinner. It's also a great time to spend together at the end of a long day. And any time you can sit down and do a family art project with an older child or tween, it's such a great opportunity to talk.

Let me know in the comments if you have questions about what materials to buy or how to organize your family art station!

More resources:
Check out all the recycled containers utilized in this organized art cabinet, from The Art of Simple blog.
Last year on the Spark blog we talked about the convenience of having a mobile art station (for kids or adults).
A fun selection of supplies to jazz up your stock of basic essentials, on the Design Mom blog.
Check out our selection of Eco Art Kits—sometimes a kit is just what you need to jumpstart your family’s creativity!