A Quilt for Elias

My brother has two little boys, and when the first one was born, I knitted a blanket for him. He was born in late March, so I had plenty of time to knit this blanket. I am not the best knitter, so it took quite a while to finish. My second nephew was born in late June...right in the middle of crafty season (the picture above was taken when he was 5 days old...he was awake and ready to meet me!) I was busy making soap, lotions, etc., so knitting a blanket was not possible. Just not enough time to get it done, so I decided to make a quilt. This is not really a tutorial, but more of an inspiration for you to try something new. If I can do it...anyone can!

I have never made a quilt before, but I was determined to make a nice keepsake for my little nephew. I scoured the internet, and found some basic instructions. Traditionally, quilts are made with different squares of fabric pieced together. But, for my first try, I decided to keep things simple. I purchased 4 yards of a colorful fabric and another 1/2 yard for the trim, I also purchased some crib size quilt batting.

First I cut and measured the fabric and batting, then pinned them together (right sides facing each other.) I sewed them together and turned the fabric right side out. I passed a light iron over the whole thing to smooth out any wrinkles.

After I had everything assembled, and sewed up all edges, I used a fabric pencil and marked off 12" sections. I then ran the whole thing under the sewing machine to "create" the quilting. I must admit, the lines were very wonky, but not that noticeable.

Using a bias tape maker, I made a 2" trim for all 4 edges of the blanket. I pinned the trim in place, and sewed three of them in place.

Before sewing on the last piece of trim, I decided to embroider his name on it....just to personalize it a bit more.

Here it is....the finished quilt. I was able to give him the blanket when he was two weeks old. I was so proud of my efforts! Maybe with the next quilt, I will get a bit more fancy, and try to piece different squares together.

Until next time....happy crafting!



DIY Hair Gel

Ok...time for another fab DIY project! I am sure most of you have used hair gel one time or another. How about making some hair gel that is inexpensive, and you can customize the scent. Flax seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and some say it can be used to prevent hair loss or encourage hair growth.

The ingredients are really simple: 1/4 cup flax seeds, 1.5 cups of water.

Optional ingredients: preservative, essential/and or fragrance oil.

You will also need a saucepan, spoon, and a strainer.

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add the flax seeds and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the flax seeds for about 10 mins, then turn off the heat.

Strain the seeds out of the liquid, and dispose of the seeds. You are left with a sticky, runny gel. Once I strained off the seeds, I was left with about 5oz of gel.

I made two batches, one with 1.5 cups of water, and the other with 2 cups of water. I didn't notice much difference with the gel's thickness, but I ended up with 9oz gel (2 cups water) and 5oz gel (1.5oz of water)

Once the gel has cooled down a bit (maybe 30 mins) you can add a preservative. I used a common wide-spectrum preservative that is easy to use. Phenonip can be used at .05-1% rate. I also added 10 drops of rosewood essential oil. You would need an accurate scale to add the correct amount of preservative. If you choose not to add any preservative, you can keep the flax seed gel in the fridge, and use it up within two weeks.

I did not try out the gel yet, but it should provide a soft hold, and avoids having "crunchy" hair. If you give it a try...please post a comment, and let me know how it goes!

Until next time....happy crafting!



The New Market in Town

Living in NYC, I can tell you that peeps love their flea/craft markets. I am here to let you know that there is a new market in town (variety is the spice of life!) The LIC Flea & Food opened it's gates on June 15th to much fanfare. Located in Long Island City, Queens, it is a hop, skip, and a jump from Manhattan, and also a quick train ride from Brooklyn. I have been a vendor there on Saturdays since opening day, and I am having a great time. I always ask anyone that stops by my booth if they live in the neighborhood. Surrounding the flea are many new luxury high-rise apartments, and some more are in the midst of construction. Just about all of the neighborhood folks that stop by are really happy to have a new market nearby. They often show their support by coming out and shopping!

Now, I am going to be honest...I don't like the word flea. I sell handmade goods, and many folks approach my booth and try to haggle with me about prices. I understand, that's what you do at flea markets, but I am firm on my prices, so I don't play that game. I will say that this market has a nice mix. Not too many "junky" looking booths. The market itself does not promote food over crafts, or vintage over handmade (not like another market which shall remain nameless....)

Here is just a sampling of the wonderful artists who show off their wares every weekend:

Tree-D Patchwork are beautiful works of 3-D art using different mediums, including fabric. Contact owner and creator, Meryl Thurston if you want your own personalized piece made from sentimental blankets, clothes, or any other fabric.

Maarte by Iza

Designer Annaliza Pasaylo-Huffnagle uses her native Filipino culture as inspiration for her Maarté by Iza collection of "Eco Friendly Jewelry", that makes a statement without saying a word.

Janet Belden is a life-long ceramicist that has a wide variety of beautiful pieces. She has also shared her expertise and knowledge by teaching classes at the West Side YMCA for over twenty years!

Donna Levinstone

I am always impressed with artists like this. Drawing and painting is a talent that you are born with (I don't think I could teach myself...you either have it or you don't) My photo does not do true justice to her beautiful work with pastels.


Need to adopt a robot? This dynamic duo will help with that. Wonderful and whimsical pieces would be right at home in any decor!

Ice Riders NYC

I have to say that these guys have saved my life every weekend. It has been HOT in NYC, and there is nothing better than shaved ice! This friendly bunch shave the ice using bike power! I have tried many different flavors including green apple, watermelon, lemonade, and dreamsicle....yum!

I hope you get a chance to stop by and check out the market. Located in LIC, Queens (46th ave & 5th street) the market is open every Saturday and Sunday (10a-6p) and should be open through October.

Until next time....happy crafting!

Nordea nordeasoaperie

Thinking outside the box...

Ahhh, Spring is here! That means the "crafty" season has begun! I have always loved strolling through a craft fair marveling at the wonderful things created by true artisans. Now that I am one of those "crafty" folks, most weekends I am somewhere out selling my wares. But, I have a hard time staying behind my booth. I am still interested in checking out other vendors' creations.

One thing that draws me to a table are the displays. I particularly love when artists choose unconventional objects. Interesting displays are always an eye-catcher, and I took a few pictures while I was at a craft fair last weekend.

Kam, who owns Kamspots had an interesting display for her ceramic hanging planters. First of all, her planters could have been displayed on a paper plate, and still gotten a second look (they are absolutely beautiful!) I was intrigued by the display, and she told me that it was a towel rack...yes like the rack in your bathroom...That's what I call creative!

Angela Colombo, designer and creator of EnchantraGirl injected a bit of nature into her display. Turning a bit of driftwood into something to showcase her delicate bracelets, was a smart move. It is a nice change from the black velvet busts that so often adorn a jewelers craft table.

Lisa LeClaire of Lisa LeClaire Designs highlighted her jewelry with some colorful shot glasses. They were the perfect fit for her eye-catching, sparkly jewelry. Her entire table was shining, and it was hard not to take a second look!

And finally, a little creativeness from Nordea Soaperie (yes, that would be me!) I had a hard time figuring out how to display my lavender sachets. I embroider each design by hand, and didn't want to throw them in a box. I found this display meant for cupcakes! It was perfect because each design can be seen, so customers can check out all of the designs without sifting through a box!

Remember that the annual Spring Handmade Cavalcade is coming up in a couple of weeks (May 4th.) I would bet that there will be a lot of creative displays to be seen. Of course it goes without saying that those displays will be showcasing some wonderul crafts too! Hope to see you there!

Until next time....happy crafting!

Nordea  /  nordeasoaperie

Fabric Covered Buttons

As you can see, I've got a lot of buttons in my stash. Unfortunately, sometimes none of them will work for a particular crafty project I may be working on. Last September, I decided to finally replace a missing button on a jacket. I headed down to a button store in the garment district and ended up buying a button for $3. Yes, $3 for one button. I found the price to be ridiculous, but I had no choice. A few months later, I came across instructions online to create fabric covered buttons....so I will never pay $3 for a button again!

First, pull out your stash of fabric scraps. It doesn't take a lot of fabric, so there is probably something in the fabric stash that will be useful. I decided to use the greenish-colored fabric (seafoam) because I had no buttons that matched the fabric.

Measure the distance from the edge of the button to the middle of the button. You want the fabric to be able to reach the middle so you can completely cover the button.

I traced a circle on the fabric around the button, making sure that there was at least 1/2 inch extra all around.

Then, I cut the fabric. My measurements were pretty close, but it wasn't necessary to be exact.

Taking a needle and thread, I used a running stitch (I think that's what it's called) and stitched along the perimeter of the fabric circle.

After placing the button in the middle of the fabric circle, pull the thread taut so the fabric gathers around the button and covers it completely.

You can even trim a bit of the fabric around the outside of the stitches to reduce the amount of bulk behind the button. You don't want too much fabric because you want the button to lay as flat as possible when you use it.

Continue to stitch up the fabric until it is taut around the button. Knot off the thread, and you are done! A beautiful button for whatever project you are working on!

Until next time....happy crafting!

Nordea nordeasoaperie

Quick & Easy DIY Fabric Coasters

Now that I have a new obsession in sewing, I am starting to find all sorts of fun projects to work on. I happen to have a weakness for coasters. I have them all over my apartment, and I always have some on my table at craft fairs (so that customers can put down their drinks and pick up my soap!) So, here is a quick and easy tutorial that anyone can do:

First, I cut out four squares of fabric for the top portion (an old pair of jeans!) and another four squares in a coordinating fabric (the same size) for the bottom portion.

Then I cut out four squares of batting slightly smaller for the padding.

Then I cut four strips of colorful ribbon that would fit across the front of the top square. I glue it on to keep it in place before sewing.

Using my trusty machine, I sew the colorful ribbon strip onto the front of each top square.

Then, I glue the batting onto the back of each bottom square.

I place the top and bottom squares (right sides facing each other) together and pin them in place before sewing them up. You want the right sides to face each other because you need to leave a 1.5" section open so you can turn the completed square inside out. If you look closely, you can see where I marked my opening in blue marker near the top of the square.

After you turn the square inside out, the right sides should be facing out, and you simply need to hand stitch the small opening to finish it up.

So there you have it....easy peasy fabric coasters! Great for a quick housewarming gift, or if you are heading to a friend's house for dinner...I always like to show up with a little gift of appreciation!

Until next time....happy crafting!

Nordea / nordeasoaperie

The Art of Soapmaking

I sell my soaps at craft fairs just about every weekend (April-December) and I always get asked who makes the soap and where "you guys" are located. I smile and say there is no "you guys" just me! I make everything on the table. The lip balms, the lotions, and yes...the soap!

The cool thing about making soap, is that I can make something that cannot be found in most stores. Some of my more popular soaps have unusual ingredients like cucumbers, bananas, and beer. The other day, I took some pictures when I made a batch of my cucumber aloe soap. So, I will explain a bit how the magic works!

Making soap is simply following a recipe...just like you would follow a recipe to make a cake or an empanada. An accurate scale is a must. I first puree the cucumbers and measure out the aloe juice to mix with the lye (sodium hydroxide.)

You cannot make soap without lye...no matter what anyone says. No lye....no soap! When handling lye, you should be wearing protective goggles. If you were to get any in your eye, you risk serious injuries!

Then I mix the lye into the aloe juice and cucumber puree. I do this in the sink just in case of any spills...it is contained in the sink. The last thing you want is little bits of lye all over the kitchen.

While I was pureeing cucumbers and measuring out aloe juice, I melted all of my oils and butters. You can make soap with just one oil or twenty oils. It takes a bit of experimentation to come up with a recipe that you like.

Then I mix everything up with my trusty stick blender. You don't need a blender, you can use a spoon, but the stick blender speeds everything up.

I mix until the soap batter reaches trace. This simply means that the soap is mixed until the batter is thick and emulsified. I mix it until it is almost solid in the pot.

Most soapers pour the soap into a mold once they reach trace. I take things a step further and cook the soap in the oven. This is called "hot process." Basically, I am accelerating the chemical reaction by the addition of heat. This means that the soap is fully "saponified" and ready to use asap. Normally, If you don't add heat, the soap needs to sit for at least 4 weeks before use.

While the soap is cooking, I measure out my fragrance/essential oils and my "superfat" shea butter. Because the soap is fully saponified, the shea butter is not involved in the chemical reaction, and in theory, will be left free in the soap. This means that the soap will not overly dry you out!

Then I pour the soap into a mold. You can use just about anything for a mold...tupperware, a shoe box, silicone muffin pans, an empty carton of milk. You just need to properly line the mold, so your soap can be removed. Once the soap is hardened in the mold, you can take it out and slice.

Here is the soap sliced and ready to be labeled and wrapped. I always include all ingredients because some people may have certain allergens. I once met a woman who was allergic to olive oil!

Until next time, happy crafting!

Nordea nordeasoaperie

Get Caffeinated with the {NewNew}!

I am not a morning person. I cannot stress that enough. Left to my own devices, I would go to bed at 2:00am and wake up at 11:00am. Yes, I need 9 hours of sleep. Sue me.
However, I am forced to get up at the ungodly hour of 7:00am twice a week - well, I am not exactly forced, but when I had cats I used to like to spend 60-90 minutes with them until I had to start getting ready and I still get up with extra time. But now I spend that time nursing my coffee and reading, playing around on the computer or frantically writing late blog posts. That last example is purely hypothetical. I found coffee after I quit smoking cigarettes, which was over 20 years ago. I desperately needed a new ritual and turned to coffee, which I had previously found disgusting. I still found it awful, but in reverse proportion to the amount of milk and sugar I added. I could only stomach it if it was like melted coffee ice cream, which I am also not so crazy about. But like any good addict, I persevered and over time got to where I only need a teaspoon of sugar and a regular amount of milk. Something else changed - I adore coffee. I love my coffee addiction. Don't get me wrong, I rarely go over 2 cups a day. But the anticipation and the ritual is something I really get excited about. So in honor of coffee, here are some coffee-related items (with special guest tea) from the {NewNew}.

How cool is this? ItsaStitch has embroidered a caffeine molecule! Don't you love science?
Lipeony has basically captured my feelings in this adorable art print.
NordeaSoaperie brilliantly adds coffee grounds to her kitchen scrubby soap, which is made with coffee instead of water to remove fishy or garlicky or other odors from your hands.
Drinking your morning joe out of TakeMeHomeware's mug would be twice as nice!
SuzanneArtist's magnet reminds you of the dangers of overdoing it.
And, as promised, here is your nod to tea. New York Clocks has fashioned a real working clock from a beautiful cobalt blue tea tin. And you can even store things in it!
Until next time,

Favorite Tools: NordeaSoaperie

Today's Favorite Tools post highlights the handiwork of soap-making maven, Nordea, of NordeaSoaperie. Nordea's favorite tool is her trusty hand-blender (pictured above). She uses it to cut the time- and labor-intensity of making her hot-process soaps. In hot-process soap-making, fatty acids from oil are combined with sodium hydroxide (lye) and water and then cooked, first on the stove and then in the oven. Heat hastens the chemical reaction that ultimately creates the soap.

Nordea relies on her hand-blender to achieve what soapers call "trace," the point at which the oil and lye-water mixture blends permanently together and can no longer return to its component parts.

Oil and lye-water mixture not-quite-mixed, with bits of oil still visible

As Nordea explains, "With hot-process, it is important to get to a 'heavy trace,' meaning the soap is pretty much solid in the pot before putting it in the oven. The thicker the soap batter, the better the cook."

Heavy trace: The drips of soap from the blender form a pattern on the surface of the soap.

After 45 minutes in the oven the soap has liquified and is ready for the addition of fragrances and pouring into molds.

It takes about 10-15 minutes of mixing with a hand-blender for the oil and lye-water mixture to come to trace. Nordea estimates that it would take at least three times as long without the hand-blender. It would also take very large arm muscles.

But Nordea also makes liquid soap, and here the use of a hand-blender is absolutely imperative. "Even with the [hand]-blender, it takes at least 45 minutes for the soap to come to trace. So I would NOT be able to make my liquid soap without it." And that would be sad!

Until next time --


From Muddy To Marvelous: Nordea's Soaperie encounter with Neko Case

Anyone who vends at one of the many craft shows and markets that take place in New York City knows it can be hit or miss. Sometimes it can really test your tenacity. Especially with the economic climate...and the climate itself!

The {NewNew}'s very own Nordea of Nordea's Soaperie can attest to a day that was less than stellar. It was a day at the All Points West Music Festival when she was selling her fine handcrafted soap. Nordea described how there was just mud everywhere and her favorite shoes were a real mess. Still, she endured the festival and the commitment she had made to display with other crafters.

This story shows that you never know what great things can come out of a day that didn't at first seem all that special.

Nordea recounted to me that a few people bought her Lemon-Poppy Body Polish scrub. Little did she know that a few weeks later, an order would come in for several more. And that the order would come from one amazing singer: Neko Case! Her backup vocalist, Kelly Hogan, also ordered it!

Last Monday morning I received a quick email from Nordea which was very short and to the point:

"Can't give you all the details now, but a singer bought my scrub and wants to invite me as a VIP with a guest for a show tonight, you in??"

My reply: "Heck yeah!!"

After the wonderful (and sold out) show, Nordea and I proceeded to the VIP area to wait patiently for Neko's meet and greet session. After briefly saying hello to some other VIP's, Neko almost instantly spotted Nordea and came over to us and gave us both hugs! I stood by with such a smile on my face as Neko spoke with Nordea to explain how being on tour offers few chances for pure bliss and how Nordea's scrub really was one of the highlights of her tour so far! It was magical, if not surreal. Neko Case is now a bonifide fan of Nordea's Soaperie and has vowed to help Nordea spread the gospel of her handmade soap, as she is a huge fan of the entire handmade revolution herself. Neko even offered to grow plants and herbs at her farm in Vermont especially for Nordea's Soap! She also said that she would try to visit our Holiday Handmade Cavalcade on December 5th!!!

Neko then asked us if we'd like to grab a drink with her and the band at a bar on the Upper West Side not far from the Beacon Theatre. How could we refuse! So off we went and hung out and spoke with, among others, Neko's backup singer Kelly who was also so down to earth and ranting and raving about Nordea's scrub!

It was an unforgettable evening, and I believe that Nordea emerged a rockstar! And in all this, I also believe that everyone can take away valuable message from Nordea's story: You never know when a muddy day will take a turn for the marvelous!

I would like thank Nordea for sharing this moment with me!

by Lorina Pellach-Ladrillono of

The Original Beadscarf