The Zipper Queen

Monday, April 22, 2019
I've been sewing for 42 years, and zippers have always been one of my biggest fears.  I just said no to anything that had a zipper.  But Saturday, I walked up to my Hobby Lobby fabric cutting counter and was greeted by, "It's the Zipper Queen!"  Apparently what I've learned in my vast two months of zipper experience has earned me a title!

My first tries were simple 6x8 open pocket pouches with a bit of lace added.  This awesome alpaca print was a custom print and is also out of print - which is such a shame because we all just loved these little guys.

Of course the next step was to put a pocket or divider inside, so I downsized to a 5x7 and added a divider and two small pockets inside.  This ended up being the perfect size for a deck of Tarot cards and a couple nice sized crystals.

Once my niece saw that I was making zip pouches, she requested a keychain credit card pouch to carry her ID, and my aunt had to have one big enough to hold 30 cards... so I had to learn how to make an even smaller pouch that opened up on the side for easy access.  Gussets are tricky... but wow, doing a zipper around a curve!  I've gotten the hang of it, but it's still something I have to stop and take a deep breath before tackling.

Knowing how much my girls and I love our crystals, I took the credit card pouch idea, added a smidge to the size, lots of pockets, and a mitered bottom, and now we have a crystal carry pouch!  The next step was to go even smaller so we could carry just a few tumbles on our keychain.

By now, I feel like I can zipper-fy anything!  And being a Sagittarian on the Scorpio cusp with my moon in Taurus... I like beautiful things. :-)  So I took one of my favorite quilting methods and created a crazy quilt zip pouch.

Then we needed zippered pockets on the front!  And THEN the small keychain credit card pouches with the zipper on the front.

To finish off my purse accessories theme, I designed a soft padded eyeglass case.

And to make things even crazier, this week I made a zippered tablet cover with a Star fabric tarot card recreation on the front that has a wristlet strap.

And next?!  I get to play with some fabulous custom printed fabric and make a large zip pouch with a zipper pocket in the front and the back, divider and pockets inside, AND done in a mermaid and dragon scale theme. Oh yeah!  Stay tuned for pictures!  Signing off - The Zipper Queen.

Spring Time in Old Hickory

Sunday, April 14, 2019
In just a few weeks, my front yard will be in glorious bloom. Noooo, it doesn't look like this now.  This picture was from a couple years ago.  What it looks like now is a tremendous amount of work!

I spent all morning cleaning up some of the winter mess and am very grateful for a helpful hubby who pulled chickweed for me for a couple of hours.  There's no way my back is doing that this year...

And this realization has led me to the creation of a pot garden... I'm sorry, "container" garden.  I've got to focus on herbs this year for both cooking and for soap making.  Last year I did get some rosemary going but never got enough to make a batch of soap with.  I did make some really lovely mint basil soap with basil from my garden, but I'm definitely hoping for more out of my rosemary.

My perennial garden isn't letting me down this spring, though!  This honeysuckle has little buds all over it and should be in full color with a couple good, hot days.  My monkey grass and creeping Jenny are already showing off some bright greens.  
BUT, my azaleas!  These things look so dead every winter, and I'm sure they're just going to peter out and die on me... then BAM!  Little pink buds everywhere!  I've always had a hard time getting azaleas to last, but I think I finally got some planted in exactly the right amount of sun and shade.  Whatever the miracle is, I accept it.

It's just too bad you only get full bloom for a couple weeks.  I do have a "leather leaf" one that has a peppermint stripe blossom that I believe Dave said was an Endless Summer variety.  That one bloomed almost all summer and gave me a bonus late fall bloom!

This strawberries and cream grass is one I'm happy to see return.  I didn't know it was a perennial.  It did really great in the shade, too.  Granted, it didn't get the 4' x 4' it's supposed to get, but I'm happy for the trade out.
My hostas are also doing really well this spring.  I've had problems with snails eating them up fast every year, but these have been in the ground here for 3-4 years now and are doing the best they've done so far.  The one on the right there is a giant variety and seems very content in this full sun spot.

The daylilies came back with a 
vengeance.  I hope to get an amazing
 amount of flowers out of them this year.

 My yellow knockout rose is full of buds already.  Tennessee has a terrible problem with these bushes getting rosacea and dying out, but the yellow ones seem fairly immune so far.  I got this for petals to go on my soaps and quickly realized I need traditional roses for that.

I'm SUPER happy that my calendula patch is filling in so quickly!  I know I can easily buy calendula for my soap, but there's such sheer pleasure in using things that you grew yourself.  I'm also still hoping to get some acceptable loofah this year, but I still haven't decided where I'm going to plant that stuff.  It might be time to move to the country.

I was really tempted to move both my oak leaf hydrangea and hibiscus plants to a "better" location, but they are doing so well that I'm going to leave them alone.  I'll focus on collecting hibiscus seeds this year and get more started in other places.

These really start SO easy from seeds, so if you have a friend that has some hibiscus, make them share a couple seed pods with you!

And if they have sedum in their yard, now is the perfect time to split that up.  The tiniest little clump of this stuff will spread like crazy over the summer, and by next spring, you'll have enough of your own to share.  This one here is very common, and I've seen lots of house plant lovers growing them inside, especially in terrariums.

And yes, I think every single picture had helicopters (maple tree seeds) in them - that is my life from now until July, first trying to keep all of them blown out of my flower beds, then going around picking all the baby maple trees out of them.

It's totally worth it when the whole yard is enveloped in color and your neighbors can't walk by without stopping to compliment you.  That one lady is STILL trying to talk me out of my giant rocks.  Walk on lady, walk on!

Next time y'all see garden pictures, there will most definitely be flowers.  I hope you're enjoying your start to spring!!


Sunday, April 7, 2019
Hello!  Welcome to The Happy Hermit's Soap, Soy, and Sewing.  My name is Darlene, and I'm the Happy Hermit.  I've decided to use my domain for a blog instead of just another online shop.  This will give us a lot more flexibility to share a variety of different things and actually have fun.  Of course I'll let you know what I do have available and what you can custom order, but here we'll also learn what goes into your soaps and why - maybe share some sewing patterns - and definitely share some recipes and gardening tips and other fun things.

For my first post, though, let me give you a peek at a few of the different things I do.

My main line of products is cold process soap.  I fell in love with this a couple of years ago, and now I offer a full array of bath and beauty products, including a vegan line that I'm adding to every day.  I make salt and sugar scrubs, body butters, lotions, lotion bars, and balms, as well as all sorts of wonderful sprays from a conditioning body spray to the Hermit's Little Helper (poo spray).

Sewing is a life-long love of mine.  I like to make things that can actually be used, but I REALLY enjoy adding an artistic twist to fabric creations.  These boho bags are some of the prettiest things I've made, I think.

We soon decided that we needed all sorts of cool accessories to go with these, so I got friendlier with zippers (maybe a little too friendly - I've gone through over 100 of these things in a couple months), and I've added several different styles of zip pouches to my line.

Home accessories?  GOT 'em!  We don't know how we ever lived without the microwavable bowl cozy, but we never will again. These are also great for cold foods.  I also make coasters, table runners, place mats, and even hanging kitchen towels.  Most of these things are custom made, so you can choose your fabrics.

And wasn't there some mention of recipe sharing?  
You're definitely going to want to come back for this one
for Pistachio Cheesecake!

But for now, that's enough from me.  I've got a LOT of work to do getting this site all set up.  See you soon!