A blog about my interests, which include fabric landscapes and various and assorted other artsy pursuits and sometimes known to contain mumblings of a random nature.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Bubble, bubble, but not so much toil and trouble as you'd think!

 After I posted pictures of the soaps I made I've had several (well, a couple!) of requests for more information so I thought I'd tell you how I make them.  

You need the following: 

- Melt and Pour soap base (any type, I happen to like shea and so that's mostly what I use, although I do have some clear glycerin and some honey on my shelf).  The soap bases can be used as they are but I like to add fragrance and maybe some other additives.  Soap 'purists' would say melt and pour is cheating but I'm not willing to get into playing around with dangerous substances like lye.  

- a mold, or molds.  I prefer the silicone ones because they are much easier when removing the soap bars

- Fragrance oils - these come pre-mixed in small bottles and I often mix and combine different fragrances, depending on my whim and what happens to be 'nose-worthy' at the time

- Colorants and additives - there are liquid dyes as well as powders that you can use to color your soap and I prefer working with the liquids to avoid anything getting into the air.  For additives, there's only your imagination.  The men's version of the ones I showed in my previous post had finely ground walnut shells added.  I've seen children's soaps that had a small toy embedded inside.  

- a 4 cup glass measuring cup (if using a microwave) or you can also use a cooking pot (if using the stove).  

- a small spray bottle of rubbing alcohol


Cut the soap base into cubes about 1" square and place in either the glass measuring cup or the pot.  If using the microwave, heat in 30 second bursts, stirring between bursts, until just melted.  In my microwave it takes about 4 bursts.  I don't know how long it takes on top of the stove but I would use low heat and stir regularly.  You have to be careful it doesn't burn.  Then I let it stand for about 2 minutes to cool slightly before adding the fragrance and any other additives. As for how much fragrance oil to use - there are all sorts of suggestions around the internet for amounts.  I tend to go with about 1/2 tsp. per block of soap (which makes about 5 bars in my rectangular mold).  I would start with 1/4 tsp. and add a little more if you feel you'd like it to be stronger.    Stir thoroughly and pour into molds.  If you see little bubbles rising to the top you can spritz with a little rubbing alcohol.

There are literally thousands of ideas on the internet for various additives, scents and wrapping ideas.  I usually order my supplies from HERE - they ship to both Canada and the US.  I've ordered fragrance oils from other sources but found they aren't as nice.  

Hope this helps and that you're inspired to
try making your own!

- If you're giving small gifts to a knitter or crocheter, how about THIS creative way to package them?  I love this idea!

- I just stumbled across THIS concept - something really different!  Sort of an embroidered combination of coloring and zentangles.  HERE is another link that shows some more ideas.  I  try not to send you to commercial sites very often, but this did catch my eye.

- Have a look through the galleries of THIS artist!

Today the quote is from Mr. Rogers..."Frankly, there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story"

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Stirring the pot

 Yes, I've been stirring the pot again.  The pot of melt and pour soap that is!  This is a sampling of what has been added to the Christmas box....

Women's on the left, scented with brown sugar, vanilla
and cinnamon, with a little bit of cappuccino.
Men's on the right, scented with orange, clove,
cinnamon, lemon grass and with finely ground
walnut shells for exfoliation. 

- THESE would make great gifts!

- For the Star Wars fans, how about THIS or THIS??

- THIS is a really nice Santa pattern  (click on Format and then it will give you an option to get the PDF pattern for free)

- THIS is a tutorial for a rather cute Christmas-themed pot holder that would be quick to make.

Today's quote is from Aristotle..."There is only one way to avoid criticism:  do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing"

Monday, October 26, 2020

Three little kittens HAVEN'T lost their mittens!

 ...but they very well might once they start wearing them after Christmas!  These were completed over the weekend and will adorn three little grandsons after they do their time in the Christmas box...

The pattern for all the mittens, both adult and children's, came from the Patons 'Next Steps Seven - Mittens and Gloves' booklet and the yarn (from my stash mostly) is Canadiana also by Patons.  

- If you have a hankering to knit socks, have a look at THIS very extensive list!  Of course, though, there's none there that are quite what I was looking for.  And just to add a little more interest to your life, be sure to have a look at the additional links in their sidebar.  Yeah....bread crumbs are necessary....

- I didn't know the 'Harry Styles Sweater' was a thing, but apparently it is, so if you're interested HERE is a crocheted version and there's a knitted version HERE ( look for the download link to click on for the pattern).  

- It seems like rag quilts are enjoying a comeback, so HERE are some ideas for you.

- THIS is just because I like denim and recycling and this combines both.

- And THIS is just because they're cute!

Today is another quote from Maya Angelou..."If you must look back, do so forgivingly.  If you must look forward, do so prayerfully.  However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present - gratefully"  

Friday, October 23, 2020

Here's lookin' at you!

 Remember this guy?

Well, he has since visited the surgeon,
and now looks like this...

At least now hopefully he won't scare 
little children!

- THIS looks as though it's a fun CAL - there are links there to the first 5 parts.  

- THIS is for those of you who like to do ribbon embroidery (or any type of embroidery for that matter).

- There's a great article HERE with lots of tips re using different types of thread spools on your sewing machine.

- HERE is a nice free quilt design that's geared towards Christmas but you could switch the colours for other times of the year.

Today's quote..."A month from now you can either have a month of progress or a month of excuses why you didn't"

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A minor battle won? Maybe!

 Most of you know we live in an apartment now but most of you don't know that the building(s) are almost 50 years old so of course some things are rather in need of sprucing up.  The latest disaster to befall us is the hall closet coming off the moorings yesterday and flatly refusing to yield to my best (previously successful) attempt to fix it. order in once again.  

Anyway, my point (and believe it or not I DO have one!) and an explanation about the battle being won concerns the grout around the tub tiles in the bathroom.  Of course they're the original tiles with the old grout which is showing its age - along with mold here and there.  I've tried all sorts of things to clean the grout but nothing has worked...until....I discovered THIS and gave it a try.  I was thrilled with the difference!  Once I invest in some more baking soda I plan to treat all the grout lines and see what happens.  In the meantime what I HAVE done looks great!  And there, never let it be said that this isn't a full-service blog!!  


And, just to prove that something has been happening in my sewing room lately, how about these that came about as a result of a special request from our #2 son.  Our grandson is apparently a huge fan of the 'Octonauts' tv show and these are his three favourite characters.  So...something else heading for the Christmas box!  

Pattern is 'The Octonauts' by Mariya Koziova (Amigurushki Crochet Patterns) and can be found on Etsy.  

- I just fell in like with THESE!  

- I'm not sure but what I may have already shared THIS artist with you, but either way, her work is wonderful!  She has LOTS to see in her galleries.

- and HERE is another one who does some interesting work.

- Further on the indoor plants from my previous post, I found THIS to be an interesting article.  Mind you, truth be told, I've managed to kill pretty much every one of these!  Could be that I'm a little over-zealous with the watering. Guess I subscribe to the theory of kill 'em with kindness!  

Today the quote is from Maya Angelou...

"We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable.  It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives"

Monday, October 19, 2020

Christmas box addition

 Our youngest grandson is just the right age to enjoy cloth books and when I stumbled across this one I simply HAD to make it for him.  It's  a pre-printed panel and was really easy to make.  

Of course I had to change it somewhat and I used the trapunto technique to highlight the bear on the cover.

This shows one of the inside spreads in the book.

- Have a peek through the galleries of THIS amazing artist!

- And THIS one too.  And how about THIS one!

- or THIS one!

- Read THIS article if you're interested in purifying the air in your home with plants.  And THIS if you'd like to add some low-light plants to your decor.

Today's quote is from Lori Deschene..."Practice the pause.  Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you're about to react harshly and you'll avoid doing and saying things you'll later regret"

Friday, October 16, 2020

T'is done!




Inspired by a photo by Robert St. Clair
and used with his kind permission

This landscape would love to have a new home - perhaps in time for Christmas?  It measures approximately 28x21" and features applique, piecing, paint, free motion quilting and hand embroidery.

If you're considering purchasing a landscape, please know that there are more still available and they may be found if you click on the 'landscape quilt' category in my sidebar and look for the 'For Sale' signs.  I will also entertain commissions as time allows between now and Christmas (or throughout the year).  Please feel free to contact me at marmic1954 AT gmail DOT com for further details.


- If you are contemplating making a fairy garden (or want to add to one) perhaps some of THESE fun ideas might be of interest.

- And as a bit of a spin-off to the above, fall is the perfect time to maybe play with THESE ideas!

- And scrolling through all the inspiration HERE is just plain fun.

Today's quote..."Better an oops than a what if"

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ok - how about a wee vote?

 Yes, how about a vote?  NOT of the presidential debacle kind though!!!  I'm going to give you two photos and let my readers vote (and ultimately choose) which one I will use for my next landscape.  There's no prize, just doing something a little different!

So, please tell me in the comments whether you like Photo A or Photo B better (ultimately I WILL make both, but the question is which to do first!).  I'd love to know why you choose one over the other too.


Original Photo by Dale Stewart and used with permission

PHOTO B.......

Original photo by Janice Holton and used with permission

- THESE are so cute!

- You might find something helpful HERE (be sure to pour a cuppa first - and you just might need those breadcrumbs again!).

- Many of us would find one of THESE useful during these times.

- THIS is a super cute Christmas quilt block pattern (and I think it could easily be down-sized to make ornaments too).  

- And HERE is a sweet little fall design that would be great for so many uses.  I think it could easily be turned into a little ornament.

- The quilters among you will probably like THIS quiltalong!  Thanks to Jeanne for the heads up on this one!

Today's quote..."I hate when people accuse me of lolly gagging when I'm quite clearly dilly dallying"

Monday, October 12, 2020

From our kitchen



We bought apples at the market and they were 'mushy', not crisp like we happened, mainly because there's currently no freezer space available.  The original recipe we used came from HERE.  We made a few modifications though - we don't like using too much sugar in things so we lowered it to just a scant 1/2 cup and added 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon.  Good idea to taste test before jarring to be sure the sugar and spice is to your liking.  Closer to Christmas we might make some more to include with our gifts.

- THESE are fun and make a great gift.

- If you'd like to make some Christmas themed projects, how about THIS,  

- THIS is a super handy chart for anyone who works with yarn!

- THIS is a fun post you might like to check out.  Be sure to take note of what the pumpkin stems are made of....and... perhaps you might remember me taking part in a downsizing challenge earlier in the year (or was it last?).  Becki was my inspiration then (still is!) and she's undertaking another 30-day downsize.

- THIS link leads to a number of really pretty fall quilt designs (thank you Judy for the heads up on this one!).

Today's quote..."If you can't think of a word say, 'I forget the English word for it.'  That way people will think you're bilingual instead of an idiot"  Personally I would replace 'idiot' with menopausal!

Friday, October 09, 2020

Almost, but not quite

The landscape is almost done but I still have a few finishing touches, including the backing and the label.  You can't see those anyway, so for all intents and purposes I can say it's done...

A couple of close ups showing the embroidery, which took me altogether too much time to do!

- THIS is the first of several articles regarding how to read a knitting pattern that some of you might find of interest. The link also leads you to some really nice free patterns.

- Have a scroll through the creations of THIS artist.

- And THIS artist too!

- THESE are super cute and would look great either on a Christmas tree, hanging in a window or being used as a package topper.  She also has THIS - another pretty!  

This is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and the government is telling us to stay home and don't get together with family as many of us normally do.  I found this quote which I think is good for these times..."A recipe for a thankful heart:  one cup of true love, two cups of kindness, three cups of grace, a teaspoon of patience and forgiveness, and just a pinch of zest for living"   We won't be cooking turkey and all the trimmings this year but we're still thankful for all our blessings.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020


 The landscape embroidery is taking seemingly forever and there is precious little of interest happening otherwise. about a nod-off-to-sleep-boring photo of the pile of finished mittens?

I know - definitely yawn-worthy!
And what's worse?  I'm still making them...

- The Halloween fans among you might find THIS pattern of interest.

- There's a fun new quiltalong starting HERE.

- Since many of us are turning our thoughts towards creating for Christmas, how about THIS, or maybe THIS .  And I love THIS!

- And making some of THESE would be fun for Christmas too!

- THIS falls under that umbrella of never knowing just what you might discover when you visit here...just sayin'......

Today's quote..."Replace sorry's with thank you's.  Instead of 'sorry I'm late', try 'thank you for waiting on me'.  Change your mindset.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Something a little different for you

 Today, instead of a landscape update (only because it's close to being done and I want to do a 'reveal'), how about a recipe?  We had this one over the weekend and it was delicious!


1 medium head cabbage (red or green...we used red) -  shredded
2 onions, chopped
4 tart apples, peeled and quartered
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. apple juice
3 T. honey
dash of allspice
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high 3 - 5 hours or until
vegetables are tender

- THIS is really a meaningful project and turned out so beautifully.  This link takes you to the final steps for the project but you can find all the rest by scrolling down - they're free until the end of the year.

- I came across THIS great resource for both knitters and crocheters.  A ton (!!!) of free access magazines and pattern booklets that you can look through.  Better make yourself a whole pot of either tea or coffee and leave bread crumbs out so people will know where you are.  Just sayin'.....

- Most of the creations of THIS artist made me say 'awww'.

- And, just so you can never say there isn't a mixed bag of content here at Chez Magpie, how about THIS article about keeping your coleus plants over winter.  

Today's quote..."Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on"

Friday, October 02, 2020

Some miniscule progress - that still took hours

 There's been some more progress on the landscape - hours of work, actually - but - hard to see in a photo unfortunately.

You should be able to click on the picture
so it will embiggen a bit more

- Pam Kellogg has just released her beautiful new crazy quilting calendar for 2021 and you can find more information, and get yours, by going either HERE (print or digital version) or HERE (print version only).  AND...if you prefer cross stitch designs for your calendar, Pam also has another beautiful calendar featuring biscornu's available HERE.  This one also includes the patterns!  You can also get it at THIS link.

- Although THIS pattern is written in Dutch, there's a translate button and the photos are quite detailed and easy to follow.

- THESE little crocheted stars have a lot of possibilities.

- Have a look at the fun creations in THIS gallery.

Today the quote is from Jackie French Koller..."There are two ways to be rich:  one is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little"