Etsy – an unexplored (for me) frontier has caught my eye for awhile now. I’m not exactly sure how I found out about it, but it’s intrigued me ever since I’ve stumbled on it. If you’ve been living under a rock, it’s a mecca site for people to sell their homemade goods online. I’ve done a lot of crafting this weekend in preparation for Christmas and it got me thinking – would it be possible to turn something I actually enjoy doing into something that could make me some extra pocket change?

I’ve been mulling around the idea of selling my homemade soap on Etsy, but I’m hesitant. For one thing, I want to do a lot of research on what all goes into selling on Etsy before I make the plunge. Secondly, I’ve never sold anything online before and really have no idea what I may or may not be getting myself into. Third – there are a lot of people selling soap on Etsy, so I’m wondering if I’m stumbling into an already crowded market.

I’m not looking to turn myself into a millionaire, although I won’t lie that I secretly wish Etsy could turn me into one (don’t we all?). I’m really looking for some extra cash to help pay the bills. Or maybe buy Sax Guy some cable television. Or buy more chickens.

Are any of you on Etsy? Could you tell me your experiences and/or share some tips? Some real-world feedback would help me get off the fence.




Pocket tissue cozy sewing pattern

Kleenex Holder | Skip To My Lou.

I found my next quick sewing project! This is a cute little cover for those tiny purse/pocket sized tissue packets that I always have to carry around because I’m pretty much allergic to everything and sneeze all the time.

My thinking behind this, if I can get it to work, is to completely stop wasting money on those little pocket Kleenex packs to begin with. I just want to grab a handful of tissues out of a big box and fold ’em up to fit in the cozy. I think those pocket packs are a little pricy, and that bloody sticker that holds it all together always comes off and gets stuck on something else in my purse. That drives me bonkers. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

From looking at the directions, it looks like the hardest part will be figuring out how to fold the tissues to get it in the cozy. What do you think?

How to fail at soapmaking without really trying

Every once in awhile, I get the urge to have a one-sided competition with Martha Stewart. When this happens, I tend to try my hand at crafts that I’ve never attempted before and convince myself that everything will turn out perfectly each time simply because I’m awesome. This time, I decided to enter new territory and make liquid castile soap in my slow cooker. Castile soap is traditionally made with olive oil, but in a generic sense it’s any soap that’s based in vegetable fats instead of animal fats.

About the only thing I accomplished in my task was a huge oily mess, six hours of my life I’ll never get back and an ego check. If you followed my Twitter feed on the Outtakes on the Outskirts homepage, you saw this live. After doing several hours of research instead of my initial 20 minutes, I have several guesses as to what went wrong. So, I’m blogging about this so you all can learn from my fail.

For starters, I was using this recipe that I found on The recipe was pretty basic, and that was the problem for this soap novice although I didn’t realize it at the time. The gist of it was that I needed to combine sunflower oil, lye, water and eventually my fragrance oils and then let it cook for two to three hours.

Here are my beefs with this recipe now that I’ve screwed it up and have done more research to know better:

  1. It never specifies if I’m measuring fluid ounces or weight ounces. There is a difference! I assumed fluid, which I think was incorrect.
  2. Never instructs to leave the slower cooker on high or low, nor does it say to put a lid on or not. I left it on high, both with and without lid. I never did determine which was correct.
  3. Doesn’t tell you how warm the sunflower oil should be before adding the lye. I left it at room temperature and the lye was hot. That was probably not what I was supposed to do.

It might also help if I used the right type of lye next time too. I bought sodium hydroxide (which is used in bar soap making) instead of potassium hydroxide. Redhead moment.

So what does a soap screw up look like? Let me show you.

It started off good, or so I thought. This is the concoction after adding the lye:

I waited for what looked like trace to me and let it cook for an hour. After that time passed, it looked like rancid egg drop soup:

Which then cooked into what I can best describe as cellulite an hour later:

So I stirred, and stirred, and stirred some more and let it cook for a total of six total hours to end up with this:

…which looks like bacon grease. Not soap.

The mixture stayed separated the entire time and never blended together. I tossed the whole batch and was grumpy for the rest of the evening.

I did some more searching and watched several YouTube videos, which included this great tutorial by Amy Kalinchuk on what the stages of liquid soap look like. One huge difference I noticed in her tutorial was that she added borax at the end to neutralize the lye. That step wasn’t in the recipe I used, but I don’t know if it’s crucial for this.

I’m going to my hand at soap making again next week while I’m off work for a much needed stay-cation using this recipe. I’ve decided I need to invest in a stick blender and a digital kitchen scale before I try again.

If you’re a soaper and you happen to stumble upon my little corner of WordPress, I’ll take any advice and tips you can give a clueless newbie!

~ Julie

DIY tablet cozy

I actually had some free time to sew this week!

This a really easy project and quick to put together.

I made this for my mama for her new tablet computer. She recently bought one after saving her pennies for months. Sounds like a good enough excuse to do some sewing!

You’ll need three fabrics – muslin, an exterior fabric and a lining fabric. The padding is fleece but I had tons of that on hand already from making lounge pants last winter. I chose the brown patterned fabric for the exterior. If you look closely at the above photo, you can see the little partridge-like birds in the pattern. The turquoise fabric was the liner and I had enough of that fabric left for the striped accents on the outside. I spent about $6 on materials.

I did modify the pattern that I used. The original design had a band that the flap tucked under to close the cozy, but I didn’t feel that was very secure. So, I scrapped that part and sewed on Velcro underneath the flap and on the exterior instead. I added the button to make it “pop.”

You will need to make your own pattern for this, but it’s not hard at all since it’s two rectangles to measure and cut. I used packing paper from a package I recently received in the mail for pattern paper, but old newspapers work well too.

Want to make your own? Here’s the link to the pattern: Tablet Coverlet by Pat Bravo.

Oh, and Cougar tried to help too.

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