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151  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds - A Turorial on: July 29, 2011 12:28:47 PM
Saving heirloom tomato seeds for next year's garden is super easy.  We do it every year and have great success with it.  It's important to save only heirloom, not hybrid tomato seeds because hybrids won't produce true in the next generation.  We select the very best specimens of each variety while they are still on the vine.  You're trying to replicate, so make sure you're replicating the very best.  I usually pick them at ripe then further kind of over-ripen them on my windowsill. 

The first step is to remove the seeds along with the jelly stuff that surrounds them.  I put it all in a clear water glass and throw out the remaining pulp and skins.  If they're not too over-ripe, you can have a snack!

Pour about a half cup of water on top of the seeds and put them on your windowsill.  Leave them for a couple of days to ferment. 

This is what the seeds/water mixture will look like when it's fermented, stuff rises to the top of the water.  This is the yucky part.  I get in there with my fingers and squish what is floating around so the seeds fall to the bottom of the glass.  Carefully pour off the water and yucky stuff and add some more fresh water.  I let this sit for a half hour or so then pour the water off of the seeds again and replenish it. 

Keep refreshing the water until you get what you see in the glass to the right.  Basically seeds and clearish water.  If any seeds continuously float to the top, go ahead and get rid of them.  No need to waste any effort next year trying to grow bad seeds.

Take a strainer and pour the entire glass of water into it and give them a rinse under running water. 

Dump your strainer onto a piece of newspaper, spread the seeds out so they are in a single layer then put it aside and forget about it for 2 weeks.  At that time, the seeds will be fully dry and ready to be stored until planting time again.  Happy gardening!

152  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Another Round of Invite Your Partner? on: July 17, 2011 01:25:56 PM
Hey there, is anyone interested in another Invite Your Partner swap in a month or two? 

Here's how it works:

In this swap, you can contact anyone and ask them to be your partner. It's almost like a personal swap, but with a group, and a killer gallery! You will have to sign up with your partner. That is, you must contact your potential partner via pm and you both must mutually agree to be partnered together.

As partners, you will choose if you want to have a theme, if you want to post stalk each other and be surprised, or if you want to request from each other things you have admired in the past. You should also agree on quantity. In the past, the suggestion was one "large" (time consuming and/or valuable) item, and a couple of "small" (quicker to craft) items that you know your partner will like.
153  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Home Sweet Home Great Garden Challenge - 2011 on: July 16, 2011 05:30:55 AM

All of you fabulous gardeners, it's time for this year's Great Garden Challenge!  Post pictures of your gorgeous tomatoes, giant zucchini, delicate flowers, raised beds, cornfield, rooftop container garden jungle - whatever you've got!

The Rules:

-This challenge is open to all Craftster members.

-You must be posting your 2011 garden, prior years are not eligible.

-Each participant may enter just one time (but you can post multiple things in your one entry).

-Post your garden photos from how through August 13th, 2011.  The contest is closed to entries on midnight Saturday, August 13th.  Go to our Challenge Entries spot and select NEW TOPIC in the upper right.  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?board=406.0   Send MissingWillow a PM if you have any questions or difficulties posting.

-Voting will be open from August 14-21, 2011

The winner of this challenge will receive a Craftster USB card! It holds 1.86 GB.

154  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions / Home Sweet Home Dumpster Dive Challenge Voting is Open Through July 10, 2011 on: July 03, 2011 09:14:41 AM
Our dumpster dive challenge is now open for voting!
155   / HOME SWEET HOME / Is My Crafty Houseware General or Reconstructed? Where Do I Post It? on: June 29, 2011 04:16:33 PM
Are you confused about whether something you've crafted belongs in the General or Reconstructed category?  Here are some tips to help you figure it out.  If your item started it's life as something completely different with another purpose than what you transformed it into, it's considered Reconstructed.  If you have painted, reupholstered, decoupaged, embellished, decorated or resurfaced an item that still has the same function as before, it's considered General.  It's also considered General if you have constructed something from your craft supplies, like a new lampshade to replace an old one.  

Using this definition, here are some things that would fall into each category:

Building an ottoman from scratch
Reupholstering a chair
Decorating a lamp shade with scrapbook paper
Creatively painting a book case

Tearing the guts out of an ottoman to transform it into a storage bin
Making a tote from a tea towel
Making craft storage from a record holder
Sewing a pillow from a T-shirt
Making a lampshade from gummi bears
Turning a book case into a gerbil habitat

If you want to post a jewelry display or holder, that goes over in the Jewelry and Trinkets board. 

If you're still not sure where your project goes, send a PM to one of your Home Sweet Home moderators (MissingWillow, pixieval, photojenn) for assistance figuring it out.
156  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Great Garden Challenge Entries on: June 29, 2011 03:30:13 AM
You'll need to start a new topic on our challenge board to make sure you can receive votes.  Look in the upper right hand corner of http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?board=406.0  for the blue tab that says NEW TOPIC.  Click on that and you'll have your own separate entry so folks can vote for you! 
157  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Solid Perfume Locket Tutorial on: June 23, 2011 02:11:49 PM
Thisbirdsabsurd is my partner in the Make A Friend swap.  This is a three part swap whose first package must focus on the sender vs. the partner.  One of the items I found in my first package was something that she thinks smells good, a vial of satsuma fragrance.  I have never heard of satsuma before but agree with her, it smells fantastic!  I decided when I opened it that I would use it in some way to make her something for package number two.  Since we raise bees, we've got beeswax for crafting.  I decided to make her some solid perfume using the satsuma fragrance.  I searched online for a locket that had some sort of opening in the top so the scent would be able to escape and found this lovely filigree one.  The idea is that body warmth will release the scent and it opens if she wants to apply the scent directly to her skin.  

Here is the locket I selected.  It came in a set, so I have others that I can play with for Christmas gifts.  It will be fun to blend some scents!

There are just three ingredients in the perfume.  Equal amounts of beeswax and a carrier oil.  I used sweet almond oil, which I have on hand for soapmaking.  I used a teaspoon of each for this project.  In retrospect, it was too much (but now I have some satsuma perfume of my own)!  I started with about 25 drops of the fragrance oil, tested it, and ended up adding an additional 20 or so.    

A makeshift double boiler!  An old pan heating water and a small glass jar to melt the ingredients.  This didn't take long at all.  When it was melted and scented, I just poured it into the locket and left it alone to harden.  I checked on it after about an hour and it was solid.  

After that, it required some basic jewelery skills to add a few charms and put it on a chain.  I covered an altoid tin to send it in.  If you make one, please PM me, I wanna see!
158  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Harvesting Spring Honey on: June 02, 2011 10:28:51 AM
We harvested the first of our Spring honey this week.  Our bees are doing very well in the little bee yard we've set up by our pond.  We've seen a bear in our back yard, thankfully it's never made it down to the hives! 

Here we are gathering up the honey supers to bring into our kitchen for processing.  A honey super is the shallow box where bees store honey in beeswax frames of drawn honeycomb.  We always leave one super per hive for the bees.  It's what they eat over the winter.  Anything above their super is ours.   Smiley

They store honey in drawn beeswax honeycomb and cap it with beeswax when it's full.  A super full of honey is very very heavy. 

We use a knife to remove the beeswax cap that keeps the honey stored.  The beeswax cappings get melted down.  I use it for crafting candles, soap and solid perfume.   

We have a small extractor, which is just fine for our operation.  It's basically a plastic tank that holds two uncapped frames which are spun via a handle crank.  Centrifugal force spins the honey from the frames into the bottom of the extractor.

From here, the honey is strained into a holding tank.  From there, it's ladled into jars.   If you look carefully, you'll see newspaper spread on our kitchen floor.  It's potentially a messy job.

The best comb gets set aside for comb honey.  Instead of uncapping it, we cut it into chunks to fit into a jar.  Here is some cut comb waiting for honey to be added to the jar.

The finished product, ready for the Farmer's Market!  We'll harvest again towards the end of the Summer.  Our sourwood trees are just starting to bloom so the next batch will be sourwood honey, a local delicacy.   Any questions?  Ask away!

159  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Deer-Proof Your Garden - One Solution on: May 18, 2011 05:50:12 AM
I planted English peas twice this Spring, and the deer came in and ate every single one of them.  I have big plans for my garden this Summer and refuse to battle both the bugs and the deer for my plants so I started doing some research.  The most promising solution I found was an invisible fence.  The premise is if you stretch fishing line between posts, deer can't see it.  When they walk into it, they freak out and run away.  We already had T-posts just sitting around, and I raided my husband's tackle box. 

Here's a close up of the fishing line in front of one of our garlic beds.  Please excuse the weeds.   Embarrassed  With all the work getting our garden in, we haven't had a chance to get the weed whacker out between beds yet.

The posts are set about 15-20 feet apart, and the line stretches horizontally about a foot off the ground, again about 5 feet off the ground, then in a criss-cross pattern between posts.

Here's a wide shot showing how we've got all of our beds protected now.  It's been 3 weeks since we installed this and have had no problem with the deer since.  It's too late to replant the peas, but the beans and soybeans are all sprouting unmolested, and all of my transplants look great! 

160  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Completed Projects / Hermione is All Set for the Royal Wedding! on: April 28, 2011 03:28:37 PM
In anticipation of the royal wedding I made my best milking goat, Hermione, a fancy hat to wear on the day.  Alas, I believe her invitation must have been lost in the mail.  Poor dear!  We'll just have to celebrate it here.  Wink

She's quite photogenic, she knows how to smize!

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