Category Archives: DIY

Knit So Fast: Vegan Knitting to Soothe the Mind

I moved across the country a month ago. Moving can be hard. Hard on the body. Hard on the soul. While I love exploring what this beautiful new city has to offer, I’ve been having trouble finding a routine. And I enjoy need routine in my life like Tom Cruise needs Scientology.

It’s the little things that I’ve been working on figuring out. Like finding “our grocery store” or learning where to get the best food photos in the house (this is a real thing). And just learning how to navigate a city that is now my home.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

To help my jumbled mind at the end of each non-routiney day, I’ve been knitting. I’ve been a knitter for a while, but never as devoted as I have been lately.  There’s something comforting and cathartic about winding and looping yarn around two sticks over and over. It forces me to slow down and be in the present moment.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

My project of choice lately are these knitted cloths made of 100% cotton yarn (that’s what makes this vegan knitting since wool comes from an animal). They are quick, easy and durable. Just throw them in the washer and dryer. They are also very versatile. Use it as a dish rag. Or a coaster.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

We use them as reusable napkins and wash cloths in the shower. Not at the same time though. Unless I’m eating in the shower. Just kidding. I still use a separate rag for washing my body when I eat in the shower.

I don’t really care if stuff in my house is matchy-matchy so the more colorful and mix-matched these are, the better! Which is good because I have a very random collection of cotton yarn in my yarn stash. My favorite pattern right now (the one shown under the coffee mug) is from Neal’s mom’s mom.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

This is a great project to learn how to knit on because of how simple it is. There’s only a few techniques to know and they are all very easy. Plus, if you mess up it’s not a big deal. Not like a one-sleeve-is-longer-than-the-other kinda deal for sweaters and such.

Old Fashion Dish Cloths

makes a cloth that is about 8 x 8 inches pre-wash (they shrink a teensy bit after washing)

Tools:

  • size 9 knitting needles (Not that important.  Smaller needles will make a smaller rag and larger needles will make a larger rag.)
  • 1 ball of cotton yarn which will make 2 rags (I use either Lily Sugar ‘N Cream or Peaches And Creme yarn which can usually be found at big craft stores like Michael’s.)
  • yarn/tapestry needle to weave in ends

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

Pattern:

Links to video techniques included.

  1. Cast on 4 stitches (I use the long-tail cast on method, but the single cast on method is good for beginners).
  2. Knit two rows.
  3. Knit the first 2 stitches, yarn over, knit the rest of the stitches on the needle.
  4. Repeat step 3 until there are 42 total stitches.
  5. Knit the first stitch, knit the next two stitches together, yarn over, knit the next two stitches together, knit the rest of the stitches on the needle.
  6. Repeat step 5 until there are only 4 stitches left on the needle.
  7. Bind off and weave in ends.

Vegan Knitting- Old Fashioned Dish Rags | Luminous Vegans

Are you a knitter? How do you unwind from the day?

How to Prepare for a DIY Cross-Country Move

3500 miles of changing weather and landscapes, too many dog farts to count, and far too much packing and unpacking shenanigans later…we made it! We traded sunny Atlanta for the damp lushness of Eugene, Oregon. As I type this, I am looking at moss-covered trees blanketed in fog. And I kinda like it. A lot.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

Getting here was not easy. It’s not the norm that people just up and move to a place across the country on what *seems* like a whim. Up until this point, I let my job dictate where I live. This time I decided to choose where I live. Because as the youngins say YOLO*!

Seriously though, this kind of untraditional way of moving is super scary. But isn’t anything that’s not the norm scary? Ultimately, this is not a tutorial. Everybody is different and has different needs and financial situations. In this post, I’m gonna share with you some things we did along the way to help us “pull off” a DIY move across the country. Keep in mind that some of these steps are over a very looooong period of time.

How We Prepared for a Cross-Country Move

1. We saved money. This has given me peace of mind and I know that it will act as a security blanket if we need it.

2. Made sure we had dat cash-money flow from a geographically independent source. Think freelancing (Neal) and telecommuting (me). This required Neal to work nearly up to the day we started packing our stuff.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

3. Spent time researching cities to live (helpful sites that we used here and here). Narrowed it down and took a trip out to scope places to live. We got extremely lucky and found a house to rent on our trip out. I think this is partly due to the fact that our move was during an atypical time to move (winter!). Could we have gotten a place to live without traveling out here? Probably. But I felt better having seen the hood and the actual inside of the house.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

4. Set a moving date. We had already built a good rapport with our Atlanta rental company. As such, we were able to break our lease without too much cray-cray.

5. Rented relocubes to pack our stuff and have it transported. This was the cheapest moving option we found. They pick up the packed cubes when you call them and deliver them to your new location. They’ll even send out an extra cube if you ask in case your stuff spilleth over and they won’t charge ya if you don’t use it.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

6. Packed and purged. This one is self-explanatory eh?

We got large cardboard boxes from a retail store for free (craigslist and me are BFFs). These were great because they were all uniform sizes which made packing the cube easier! Grocery stores are also a great source of free boxes, you just have to ask. We got smaller sized boxes from the Atlanta co-op to fill in small spaces in our packing cube.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

The kitchen was the hardest to pack. Yet it was also one of the last rooms to get packed because food. Nearly every non-refrigerated good was brought with us.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

I learned to adapt to the constant transitory state of our house during the days leading up to packing the relocubes. Things got ugly for a few days.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

We had to be okay with sleeping on the floor for a night as well.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

We packed our cubes in ONE day. Had I a chance to do it over again, I would have given ourselves at least two days. It’s challenging and time-consuming to fill in those cubes because we wanted to occupy every inch. This involves some serious tetris skills.

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

7. Did our walk-through with our Atlanta place and then hit the road (road post forthcoming)!

After living in Atlanta for so long, we had established some wonderful friendships and had family nearby. So somewhere between #4 and #7 we made sure to find time to say goodbye. The ease of our move was certainly not possible without the extreme generosity and continued support of friends and family.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better moving experience. But if had to do it all over again,  I would trade places with this guy in a heartbeat…

Atlanta to Eugene- Luminous Vegans

Happy Holidays!

 

*YOLO = You Only Live Once

A Non-Food Kitchen Tip: DIY iPad Speaker Amplifier

Oh hey kitchen! Let’s hang out.

With Thanksgiving coming up, it’s only natural that I’m gonna spend a little more time in the kitchen than normal. Because in addition to putting the “regular” food on my family, I’m preppin’ for Thanksgiving at my sister’s place. (Side note: If you’re curious about our tentative vegan menu, keep reading.)

Whenever I spend time in the kitchen I like to listen to music, podcasts, TED talks, etc on my iPad. But when things get really goin’ — like the chopping, the sizzling and when at my sister’s place, the 4 kids…it can be hard to hear my itty bitty iPad even with the volume all the way up. Or maybe I’m just deaf.

No matter. Here’s a video showing how a DIY iPad speaker amplifier helps my aging ears. There’s also bonus footage of a DIY iPhone speaker amplifier! Keep reading after the video to see how to make it.

It’s subtle in the video but this really does help me hear over cooking noises. The iPad speaker amplifier idea is based on this product (and physics, good ol’ physics!) which basically bounces the sound waves in a specific direction. But this doesn’t cost $25. It costs…I dunno. How much do index cards cost?

All you do is cut an index card in the middle about 2/3 deep (as shown). Then you’ll end up with flaps. Take one flap and pull it over the other to make a sorta half funnel thing. Tape it down on both sides.

DIY iPad Speaker Amplifier- Luminous Vegans

Affix this behind the speaker of the iPad with some tape so that the pointy funnel end is aligned with the edge of the iPad. Make sure the iPad is facing in your general direction because that is where the sound will “funnel” to and hence sound louder.

DIY iPad Speaker Amplifier - Luminous Vegans

You can fiddle with the sound amplification by adjusting how funnel-y your index card is by pulling the one index card flap over the other even more or even less. This whole thing works even better if you don’t have a cover on the iPad like me and it’s just on a stand.

For the iPhone speaker amplifier…well, you just stick your phone in a cup speaker side down. A trick I learned from a friend.

So now you can get your cook on and get your learnings on simultaneously!

Our Vegan Thanksgiving Menu

Stuffed Seitan from PPK

Mashed sweet potatoes topped with coconut bacon

Brussel sprouts salad with dried cranberries and candied pecans

Mushroom gravy

Stuffing (updated: first time making homemade!)

Cranberry sauce

Fruit cobbler (Haven’t decided on the fruit yet because that’s how I roll)

Though my sis veganizes as many of her side dishes as possible, I like to bring and create a whole meal to share. Plus leftovers. I’m making the seitan, candied pecans, coconut bacon and cranberry sauce ahead of time because they can be stored up to 3 days (maybe even more for the pecans and coconut bacon). The rest we’ll be free-stylin’ at my sister’s place!

Do you listen to music (podcasts, etc) when you’re in the kitchen? What are your Thanksgiving plans?

How I Store Herbs to Keep Them Fresh and Wilt-Free

There’s nothing scarier than reaching for that bunch of cilantro or parsley that you bought a week ago. Only to find a wilty, stinky and yes, sometimes slimy wad of green stuff that only somewhat resembles a once living plant.

Ok, so there’s probably a lot of things scarier than that. Especially today. Hello? Zombies, Jason Voorhees and that freaky gal from the Exorcist who loves the cross a little too much. But I still don’t want wilty herbs all up in my fridge. For the record, I don’t want Freddy Krueger in there either.

How I store herbs to keep them fresh -Luminous Vegans

For awhile, I was having the hardest time keeping herbs fresh beyond just a couple of days.

I tried different storage methods. I treated them like flowers and put them in a jar with water after cutting the stems. I left the jars out on the kitchen counter. Nope, still got wilty very quickly.

I tried it again but moved the jars to the fridge. Wilt city.

Every where on the internets told me that this should work. So I gave it one more go. But this time I did the whole plastic bag thingie over the jar. That just led to a ton of moisture in the bag and slimy herbs.

Plus, having to deal with refreshing the water in the jars all the time? Ain’t nobody got time for all dat!

How I store herbs to keep them fresh -Luminous Vegans

What works for me resulted from my effort to keep it simple. I’ve been doing it this way since summer and find that it helps extend the life of herbs drastically. All I do is wash the herbs when I get them from the farmer’s market.

How I store herbs to keep them fresh -Luminous Vegans

After they’ve air-dried for a bit, I wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and dab at them to get them as dry as possible. Then I pop them in an air tight tupperware (cutting the stems if necessary space-wise) and put it in the fridge. That’s it!

I don’t have a bunch of air tight tupperware. So I also use these take-out soup containers and they work just as well. When I use these, I place the herbs in stem first.

How I store herbs to keep them fresh -Luminous Vegans

Below is some parsley that’s been in the fridge for nearly 2 weeks (I checked the date on the pics) and they’re still going strong. I’ve also tested this method on basil and cilantro. These herbs are a little more delicate and I can’t remember if they hit the 2 week mark or not. But their freshness was extended drastically!

How I store herbs to keep them fresh -Luminous Vegans

I like this method because it works for me AND it’s hands-off after the initial rinsing and drying. When I have paper towels, I’ll also loosely wrap the dried herbs in them before putting them in the container to continue wicking away the moisture. But for me, it works well either way. Maybe slightly better with the paper towels. But we don’t usually use paper towels, so we don’t have ’em in the house often.

Gone are the days of finding frighteningly wilty herbs only days after buying them! I’m happy to have finally found something that works for me.

How do you store herbs to keep them from going wilt-city on you?

Homemade lotion

I’ve never been pleased with store-bought lotions.They have strange unpronounceable ingredients (even the so-called “natural” ones), they don’t moisturize enough and in some cases dry out my skin even more, and the vegan ones can be mucho dinero! If I can’t find a good vegan version of something, I usually try to make it my self.

I semi-make my own face cleanser, so lotion making didn’t seem too scary. Before starting my first batch, I did some research and found a few sites to get me started (PDF from Utah State, TeachSoap). In its most utilitarian state, lotion is just oil + water + an emulsifying agent to mix the two. The fun part is choosing what oils, butters and essential oils to use!

IMG_2191

Ingredients (for a small 4 oz jar):

All ingredients (except for the water) were bought from Mountain Rose Herbs and are mostly fair trade and organic. Ounces were measured on a kitchen scale with a “tare” option so I didn’t have to use an individual cup to measure out each thing.

Solids:

  • 0.2 oz emulsifying wax
  • 0.3 oz cocoa butter
  • 0.2 oz shea butter

Liquid oils:

  • 0.3 oz kukui oil
  • 0.2 oz jojoba oil
  • 0.4 oz vegetable glycerin

H20:

  • 2.4 oz distilled water

Extra stuff:

  • 6 drops of vitamin E oil
  • 6 drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE)
  • Essential oils for fragrance (11 drops benzoin, 3 drops sweet orange, 1 drop of patchouli)

Directions:

  1. Sterilize all lotion making equipment (spoons, glass cups/jars, lids, etc) before hand. This just means cleaning them thoroughly and then boiling them in hot water and letting them dry.
  2. Measure out the solids in a glass pyrex cup and heat until liquified. I used a double boiler which is just fancy talk for immersing the cup in a pot of water on the stove at low heat. Microwaving the solids is fine too.
  3. Measure out the liquid oils in another cup.
  4. Add the liquified solids to the liquid oils.
  5. Add the distilled water and blend everything together using an immersion blender.
  6. Add the extra stuff and blend until everything is well mixed. It should be white, but still pretty liquidy at this point.
  7. Pour into jar and put on lid.
  8. Let set overnight before slathering it on.

I am happy with my first batch.  It has all the stuff I love using like cocoa butter and kukui oil and it smells like a chocolate covered orange. It is indeed very moisturizing and I don’t have to constantly reapply. I can’t wait to experiment more with different amounts of oils and such. It was such an easy and fun process that made me feel sort of like the apothecary from Romeo and Juliet. But instead of making fake-death potions, I was making fun-time lotions.

NOTE: this lotion recipe does not use a preservative, though vitamin E and GSE do help extend the shelf life. I’ve been using this first batch for a good month or so and have not noticed it going rancid or bad and I expect to finish this small batch pretty soon. If making a larger batch that I want to last and stay fresh for longer than a couple of months, I’d look into a mild preservative.

So fresh and so clean, clean

I’m leaving on a jet plane soon, so I spent some time in the kitchen re-upping on toiletries for my trip. In addition to my trusty sugar scrub, I made a second batch of a face cleanser and tried out a recipe for bug spray.

This face cleanser is something I dreamt up about 3 weeks ago using stuff that works for my skin. FYI, my skin is somewhere between a prepubescent boy’s and sandpaper, dream skin really. To make the cleanser, I used 3 tbs of kukui oil from Oils of Aloha, 4 tsp of castille soap from Mountain Rose Herbs,  2 tsp vegetable glycerin and 1 tsp of jojoba oil.

Stir it all up and funnel into used pump bottle. I’m using an empty 2 oz bottle from Shea Terra Organics and it filled up 3/4 of the bottle. Before each use, I shake the bottle a bit to ensure its mixed properly.

I wanted this cleanser to be moisturizing, so it bubbles when agitated with water without taking me all the way over to sudsy town. Don’t be fooled though, this stuff does clean.

Since I had all the skin stuff out, I also made a bug spray from this recipe. I don’t know how well this works yet, but it sure smells like it will work.

So now I’m all set with my homemade goods for my body in TSA approved 3.4 ounces or smaller bottles…I am a flying master.

Though I am excited for the change in scenery, I will miss these guys terribly.

Lemonade for your face

My skin has been a bit dull as of late.  So I decided to visit a spa, otherwise known as my kitchen, to get a quick pick me up. I’ve used this scrub many times before and it is a great body and face exfoliator.

I used the following:

  • 4 tbs organic cane sugar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice (I prefer fresh lemon juice, but hey)
  • 10-15 drops of kukui oil (Any oil that doesn’t break you out should work. I’ve also used jojoba oil in the past)
  • a clean empty container with a lid (I’m using an empty 2oz Soapwalla deodorant container. If you don’t have an empty Soapwalla deodorant container, I suggest you buy the deodorant first b/c you will fall in love with the deodorant and then you will have an empty container once it’s all used up.)

I mixed everything up in the container, stirring with a chopstick. When the mixture sits, the oil/liquid will sit on top and the sugar will settle.

So when I use it, I just make sure to kind of dig in and mix it up with my fingers.

I use this on my face after I wash it in the shower. It leaves my face feeling smooth, refreshed and moisturized due to the oil. This stuff also works great on my body though I tend to just use it for dry spots (read: elbows and feet). I’ve made this scrub many times tweaking it depending on my skin. If my skin is parched I add more oil, if it’s really flaky I might add more sugar to up the scrubbability, and if I feel like being able to eat my face scrub, I leave out the oil altogether.

What home DIY stuff do you use?