Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Make Envelope Style Throw Pillow Covers

Have you ever wondered how you can quickly and easily change your home decor in minutes without spending a bunch of money in the process?

Well, PILLOWS are the  perfect answer to that question. Did you know that a room can take on a whole new look   simply by changing the pillows or by covering them with a different cover?

I personally prefer to have  a variety of pillow covers sewn and ready to go whenever I get the urge to redecorate. Using leftover remnants of fabric that I may have from other projects or sometimes from a new piece of designer fabric, I skillfully  whip up a new cover or pillow in minutes.

Sew or no sew, a fashionable pillow cover can be created in an hour or less and ready to slip onto your pillows or on pillow inserts. You can either sew the seams together on the cover or secure them with iron-on tape. Whichever option you choose, you will have a new pillow cover quickly and easily all in about 1 hours time.

Sewing and designing pillows and pillow covers are a favorite hobby of mine, so several years ago I began  sharing  my e-patterns with others via  my Etsy.com Shop...Unique Cozy Treasures.  If you are looking for some great pillow cover patterns or ready made pillows feel free to browse my shop at:


There, you will find a variety of easy pillow cover e-patterns that you can use to sew or no sew an endless amount of pillow covers. The e-files are in Adobe PDF format that  instantly download to your computer or any device that supports Adober Reader.

There are also a variety of  ready made pillows available in my shop, as well as, many rare vintage finds,  handmade and other items.

Comments left by my fans:

......."Thanks so much for the pattern. I am looking forward to using it."

...."Just love the pattern!"

....."PDF came through beautifully. Thank You!"

....."Easy pattern, well written. Done in an hour or less! Pattern was delivered quickly!"



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

High Sierra Hike

The Sierra Nevada Mountain range is one of the most beautiful places to take a day hike. There are so many awesome things to experience and the scenery is so gorgeous! Please enjoy the relaxing video above of a Sierra mountain stream that we crossed while on one of our day hikes there. We also panned for gold in the same stream.

An abandoned mountain cabin not far from the stream. It was beautiful, but I suspect the occupants were a little nervous about the natives.

Fresh evidence left next to the cabin by the natives. Yes, it's bear do do. Time to get back across the stream and back to the vehicle. Oh, did I mention...remember to take your bear spray and other protection.

Sardine Lake, CA

On the way home we stopped by this serene mountain lake just long enough for me to take a quick photo. I had 5 minutes to set up my tripod, camera and get the shot. Amazingly, it turned out to be one of my best photograph's ever.

Sage brush along the highway home. In the autumn they bloom full of small yellow flowers.  Very pretty to look at but not to breath for those many people who suffer from allergies.

All in all, we had a great day hiking in the High Sierra Nevada Mountains. Hope you enjoyed the slideshow!

For more Sierra Adventures...Visit:  sierralaketrekker.blogspot.com 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Natural Mosquito Repellent Tips

Are you a MOSQUITO MAGNET? I am. So like me,  If you do not care to indulge in spraying yourself down with chemicals to repel those biting pests, you may find these tips to naturally repel mosquitoes very  helpful and interesting.

Mosquitoes hate the smell of citrus like, lemon or orange, lemon grass, marigold, and lavender.
1) Before trekking outside eat something containing lemon oil. Or, take a small bite of  a lemon wedge. Yes, it's sour, but it's worth it, isn't it?  Rubbing a bit of citrus peel on your skin may also work, but messy.

2) Or, Rub your hands through one of your Marigold, lemon grass or lavender plants, then rub your hands over your arms, legs and any exposed skin.

3) And, Avoid sugary foods and drinks before and while you are outside. Mosquitoes love sugar and they can smell it in your skin making you a magnet for bites.

4) Avoid wearing sweet perfumes, hairsprays, etc. which tend to attract  pesky insects like mosquitoes, flies and bees.

5) Make mosquito repellent candles using  vintage canning jars, then placing them  in strategic areas of your yard. This works great when you are having outdoor gatherings and parties. I simply place either some sand or potting soil into the bottom of a vintage canning jar, add one of my handmade organic beeswax candles, then place lemon peels around the perimeter of the candle. 

Next, I light the candles, then  hang several of these candles around my yard on shepherds hooks and also set them tables around where we are sitting.  The heat from the candle helps expel the citrus oil from the lemon peels sending the citrus odor out into the air. It works great!

Hopefully, by using some of  these tips, you will ward off many of those nasty pests and  enjoy the outdoors without getting bitten during the summer.

If you would like to learn more about my organic beeswax candles and vintage canning jars or how to order them, please visit my Etsy Shop by clicking on my shop widget located in the upper right hand of this page. Or, you may simply follow this link:   


Please tell us about your own natural tips to repel mosquitoes by leaving a comment below.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Make Homemade Flour Tortillas

Oh Yumm..Tortillas. We all love them. Even though tortillas are widely available in most supermarkets here in the U.S. the homemade variety offers alternative health benefits, as well as, superior taste. There is nothing that compares to the taste of a freshly cooked homemade flour tortilla.

Right now you may be thinking that making homemade tortillas is a time-consuming and messy undertaking and that you would rather watch paint dry. But, think again. With the proper mix of only four ingredients that you probably have sitting on your kitchen shelf, making tortillas can be very quick, easy and real treat for you and your family.

Trust me....once you have eaten one of  these homemade tortillas....you will NEVER buy the store bought tortillas  again!

Easy Homemade Flour Tortillas

In a medium size bowl mix together:
2 cups flour (white, wheat or a combination of each)
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup  water
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients well forming a soft ball. Continue incorporating ingredients by kneading the dough on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding small amounts of flour if needed to achieve a smooth non-sticky dough.

Place dough back into the bowl and cover with a small towel. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. You can let it rest longer if you like or while you are getting your fillings prepared.

After the resting period is complete, Cut dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a ball.

Using a rolling pin( marble pin is easiest) roll each portion into a 7-12 inch circle on a lightly floured surface.

Flour each rolled out tortilla so that they do not stick together when stacked before cooking.

To cook your tortillas, preheat either a heated cast iron tortilla/pancake griddle or an electric grill.  I find the electric grill that has a heating element in both the top and bottom works best, is much easier, less messy and takes less time. If you are using an electric grill simply place the tortilla on the heated grill then close the lid and let each tortilla cook for a couple of minutes checking periodically to see when the tortilla is completely cooked but not overcooked. They will appear slightly browned as shown in the photo below:

The tortilla will start to bubble when it is close to being cooked. If you are using a cast iron griddle on the stove top, you will need to regulate the heat to cook the tortilla yet not burn it and you will need to turn it over once you see large bubbles raising in the tortilla.

Remove your tortilla from the griddle with a cooking tong, then place inside a container that will keep them warm until you are ready to use.  Repeat this cooking process with all of the tortillas until all are cooked.

I recommend having your fillings and topping ready before you start to cook the tortillas so that you can fill them as soon as possible when they are done cooking.

***Tip: You may also store the tortillas in your freezer for later use. Just place the rolled tortilla balls(before rolling out with the pin) into a freezer container and place in your freezer for up to two weeks. When ready to use, simply take out the tortillas to thaw, which takes about 30-60 minutes at room temperature. Roll out each with a rolling pin as directed above, cook, and fill.

Enjoy! Your family will LOVE these!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


"Summer...The time for beautiful Hydrangea flowers to open their soft colorful petals and dance in the warm breeze until the cool days of autumn take their precious gift along hiding them away for the next summer."  D. Shenkle

My love for Hydrangeas began several years ago when I happened across them in a local garden center. I purchased a lovely blue one and promptly planted it in my backyard only to find that it didn't grow any additional blooms. In fact, it wasn't looking too good at all. It was then that I realized that Hydrangea really aren't happy with so much hot summer sunlight shining on them all day long.

I dug up my precious plant transplanting it to the north side of my house where it is practically shady all day long. Much to my surprise the Hydrangea loved the spot and grew profusely exhibiting an abundance of  over 50 large beautiful flower heads in an array of colors from green, lavender, blue, white and pink. I was thrilled!

However, after a few years I realized that it was getting so large that it became necessary to divide it and replant it, which left several new transplant divisions that needed new homes somewhere in my yard.  So I did my fair share of research to learn just how to divide and transplant with success.

Once I felt confident in my dividing and transplanting abilities,  I decided to remove some of my tall Hosta's that were growing next to my large Hydrangea so that I could put two additional  Hydrangea division plants in their place.  Using the directions that I found during my research, I dug up my large plant, divided it and planted two of the additional  divisions next to the larger main plant.  Soon the  new division transplants were showing signs of green leaf growth.

So for those of you who have a very large Hydrangea that you would like to divide into more plants I have included instructions on how to properly divide and transplant a Hydrangea:

The time to divide your Hydrangea is in the spring when your plant is just putting on leaves at the bottom of the plant as shown below:

Starting about 12-18 inches outward from the base of the plant dig out the complete root of the Hydrangea. Once out of the ground you will be able to identify new individual plants that should easily come apart from the main plant. Mine fell apart into six separate plants. You may not have as many, but be sure to have roots on each new plant start.

Soak the roots of your plant divisions in a bucket of lukewarm water while you are digging the hole where you are going to plant them.  In a shady location, dig holes two to three times the size of the root circumference of your division plant, as shown below:

Fill the hole with water as shown below.  Then let the water completely soak into the soil. Repeat this process one more time.

Place your Hydrangea division into the hole, then cover with soil level with the area just covering the root to the top where it attaches to the plants branches, packing the dirt lightly around the plant, as shown:

Water thoroughly once more.

If your new division transplants do not have any leaves growing yet, be very patient because it may take awhile for the roots to get settled in their new home and start putting on new leaves. Remember to keep them well watered during the growing season.

***DO NOT prune off  the old branches  until your plant is showing signs of forming blooms or you probably won't have any blooms.  It is also important to  always prune your Hydrangea in the early summer once the plant is showing signs of blooms forming, but not before. The old foliage from the previous year determines your blooms for the following year. I had to also learn this the hard way. The foliage looks dead but it is not. You may also treat your new plants to special fertilizer that is especially formulated for Hydrangea and may be purchased at  your local garden center.

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