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Hello lovelies! 

I am transferring my site’s domain tonight, so it may be down for an hour or two. Have no fear! It should be up again soon. From now on I will only use the hoopesparkstudios.com web address. I will no longer be using the hoopesparkstudios.wordpress.com web address. It’s probably a good idea to update your bookmark. 

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this goes smoothly. Wish me luck!

Claire

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Today we rode our bikes up to the growers’ market to buy eggs and produce. It is so nice to have a farmers’ market so close by! One of my favorite food is collard greens, and we bought a whole big bunch. I miss being in one place long enough to have a garden. One of these days I’ll settle down and get back to gardening. Fresh produce from the market is the next best thing to my own garden.

Collard greens

Remove the stems from a bunch of collard greens and chop them up. Stir fry them on medium-low heat with about 1 T olive oil, 1 T soy sauce, a few shakes of liquid smoke, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and 2 T vegetable stock.

 

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There were also some delicious looking pastries and bread for sale.

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And look! The trees are blooming. Lovely.

visit to Madalynne studios

Yesterday I drove over to a studio space to meet up with two other Philadelphia-based bloggers- Maddie and Bekuh. After I commented on Maddie’s post about her new studio space last week, she invited me to stop by while they were taking photos. If I haven’t said it enough, let me say it again- what a wonderful community I have joined! Bloggers are so friendly and welcoming. It was very cool and a little surreal to meet the two of them in person. Maddie let me pick her brain about the business of blogging and Bekuh told me all about how she ended up in Philly. I hope I’ll be seeing them again sometime.

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gear

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2013 has been quite a year. I started nursing school, started this blog, moved to Philly. I lost a good friend and made a few new ones. This upcoming year I will be finishing nursing school, finding a job and probably moving again. Here are my concrete goals for the year.

1. Keep sewing, and blogging
Sewing is one of my favorite things in life. I have had trouble making enough time for it in my busy schedule, but starting this blog has forced me to be good to myself and make time to sew. I’m continuing these in 2014. I’m committing to one sewing or DIY post each week.
2. Exercise
Always a challenge when busy. I’m aiming to swim a mile once a week, do Pilates or yoga once a week, and do one more hour of cardio per week (maybe biking or running). That’s three things, three hours, which feels like a manageable goal.
3. Be present
I tend to get overwhelmed thinking about all the things on my plate at once. This year I’m putting effort into being present, staying in the moment, and trying to enjoy things as they come.

Here’s to the new year, and here’s hoping that it holds continued healing and good things in store for everyone.

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We had some leftover beeswax from our honey harvest this year. Most we gave to a friend, but I kept a little because I wanted to try making a few things, namely some candles. It takes a lot more beeswax then I thought to make a candle, so I only ended up with one, but this recipe can be extended to make other candles.

What you need:
Beeswax
Paraffin wax
(1 part paraffin to 2 parts beeswax)
Two plastic cups (preferably cups you don’t care about)
Dixie cups
Spray oil
Cheesecloth
4 clothes pins
Candle wicks (or string)
A pot (stovetop)

1. Put all the beeswax into one of the cups, and then into the pot. Fill up the pot with water as much as possible without making the cup of beeswax float. This will act as a double boiler to melt the wax. Turn the stove on high until the water boils, then turn the heat down a little. Stay with the wax the whole time it melts.

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2. While the wax is melting, liberally spray the Dixie cup with spray oil and then refrigerate it.

3. If you are using raw beeswax (like I did), fold up the cheesecloth (I folded it in half twice) and use clothespins to hold it over the opening of the second cup.

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Once the beeswax has completely melted, pour it through the cheesecloth into the second cup. Using a spoon to clear the propolis from the cloth will push the wax through the cheesecloth faster.

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The beeswax will cool off while you are pouring it into the second cup. Add the paraffin wax to the beeswax and then place the cup back into the boiling water. You will need to add more water since some has boiled off.

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Set up the candle mold. Use a drop of wax to hold the bottom of the wick to the bottom of the mold, and a clothespin propped across the top to hold the wick straight up. I tried itfirst with a pen and Hanukkah candles, but it didn’t work. Make sure to keep an eye on the wax. When the wax is melted, pour it into the mold.

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Let the wax cool completely, for 3-4 hours. The candle will pull away from the sides of the mold, and you can peel the paper cup off if it is stuck to get it out. Then trim the wick. Carefully trim the edges of the top with a knife.

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Here is my candle on the window sill. I put it on a little dish to contain the wax. It smells faintly like honey when I burn it! Next year I’m going to save more wax to make more candles. I’m also going to try making lotion bars. Patience, Claire, patience!

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Tote bags are useful, no? I’m always hauling around schoolbooks, my ipad, lunch, and other random stuff I think I’ll need throughout the day. My old tote bag was getting a bit worn, so I (mostly) followed this tutorial by Vanilla and Lace to make myself a new tote bag.

I used some heavy duty upholstery fabric from my big box of random fabric pieces and scraps (every person who sews has one) for the body. I used some leftover shaker tape for the straps. I changed a couple things from the tutorial. Instead of making two rectangles for the sides of the bag and sewing them together, I made one long rectangle and folded it in half. I also made boxed corners so the bag would have some depth. I made the corners by folding the corner into a triangle and sewing perpendicular to the vertical seam about two inches from the bottom above the corner. This video (starting at 0:44) is a good tutorial for how to do this.

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The Vanilla and Lace tutorial showed a very sturdy, easy way to attach the straps to the bag. And the bag has been holding up well!

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I found this gorgeous fabric at a thrift store in Seattle a few years ago. Problem was, it was in the form of a very heavy skirt that I never wore. I’m glad I kept it around, because I finally decided to use it to replace the back of a denim shirt.

You need:

-Denim shirt

– fabric

– sewing gear (sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc.)

First, very neatly cut out the back of the shirt. You will be using this as your pattern.

Next, trace the denim piece you cut out onto the fabric. I made the new back piece larger than the denim piece, because I wanted the shirt to fit me a little more loosely. I also did this so the shirt won’t be too tight, because the denim is stretchy but the fabric is not.

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I serged the raw edges of the fabric.

Finally, I carefully pinned and then sewed the new fabric back onto the denim shirt. I sewed the seams together flat, rather than with the right sides together (to minimize bulk along the seams), and then zig zagged over the raw edges.

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whoops, photographer caught in the image!

whoops, photographer caught in the image

hey there!

hey there!

silly claire.

I think it’s totally a knockout piece. Maybe my favorite thing to wear this fall.

Thanks to A Beautiful Mess for the idea.