Sock Bunnies

Last year, as I was thinking of filling Easter baskets, I decided I wanted to make special stuffies for the kids.  As I scanned the internet for easy ideas, I came across a pattern for a sock bunny. I loved the idea, because Niko had a thing for collecting and playing with socks at the time, so we had quite an assortment of socks that were either worn or had lost partners. The bunnies were so easy to make, and so loved by the kids, that I thought I’d share my process. I made a few changes to the original pattern, which you can see by clicking here. 

First I chose two socks, one for each bunny, that were tall enough to work with and not too worn. Of course, you could use new ones, but I liked the idea of upcycling what we already had.

I wanted the bunnies to be heatable, so instead of using regular stuffing, I used rice, because it works well for heating in the microwave. You can see in the picture that I used two types of rice, arborio and jasmine. This wasn’t for any creative reason, I just didn’t have enough rice to use only jasmine. I used the socks to measure the rice ahead of time to make sure I had enough.

To give them  a comforting aroma, I scented the rice with a couple of drops of essential oil. Lavender oil is traditional for bedtime and relaxing, but since we all had miserable colds, I went a different route. Niko’s first, beloved babysitter always used DoTerra’s OnGuard oil when Niko or anyone else in her home was feeling under the weather. She would dab it onto the bottoms of his feet, avoiding the sensitive skin of his face, or put it into a diffuser. It has a warm orange-and-spice scent, and it’s supposed to improve immune response and help with congestion. I have no evidence for the immune part, but I can testify that it does help open up congested sinuses. Remembering how comforting that scent was to someone suffering from a cold, I added a few drops to the rice and mixed it well. I made sure not to use too much; any essential oil has a powerful aroma, and the orange and cinnamon in OnGuard is especially strong.

When I made the first bunny, I filled the sock about two-thirds full, then sectioned off a large bottom part with my fingers and cinched a thread around the dividing line. This was a little difficult, because the top kept wanting to fall over and dump out the rice. The second time, I ended up pouring out the rice in the top section before tying it off, leaving the heel empty. Then I firmly tied the thread just above the rice. This approach was much easier. I put a dab of fabric glue onto the knot so the kids wouldn’t accidentally untie it later.

I made sure each heel, above the cinched thread, had as much rice as I could pack into it while making sure this section was smaller than the bottom part. I used thread to tie this section off. This time, I used fabric glue both on the knot and on the inside of the sock where the thread pulled it tight, to prevent rice from falling out later.

Next, I oriented the bunny with the round heel, which would be the bunny’s nose and face, toward me. I carefully cut down the middle of the empty top of the sock, with the cut lined up with the center of the heel. I cut away a diagonal, slightly curved piece at the end of each half of the fabric. Now the top of the sock looked roughly like bunny ears. The ears were open and prone to fraying, and I wanted to give them a more finished look. I didn’t have access to my sewing machine, and that miserable cold had exhausted me, so I used the fabric glue one more time. Folding each edge of the ear under, I ran a line of glue along one side and used clothespins to hold the edges together, and let the bunny dry overnight. Besides making the ears more durable, securing the edges also gave them a more defined, less floppy look.

I’d put off my project so long that the next morning was Easter. Before the kids woke up, I got out my fabric markers and gave each bunny a face on the rounded heel of the sock: eyes, heart-shaped nose, and smiling mouth. I tied some ribbon over the thread that defined the neck,  with the fluffy bow just under the bunny’s chin. I finished just in time to add a bunny to each Easter basket.DSC01213

I was gratified by the kids’ responses: they immediately hugged them, and Niko was instantly reminded of his babysitter. He said, “It smells like Joey!” as he inhaled deeply. Despite how rushed the end of the project had been, I was satisfied.

A year later, I’m pleasantly impressed with how much sturdier the bunnies are than I’d expected, given that they are held together with ribbon and glue. I had to mend each one recently because Niko bit holes into them (yes, really), but the construction remains intact. And both kids still adore them and ask for them to be warmed up at bedtime, even though they each have a store-bought microwaveable toy. It was a project that was both insanely easy and durable, which is a win in my book.




Creamy Coconut Hand Scrub

It’s that time of year when gardening hands become permanently begrimed, even through gloves, unless serious action is taken. Around this time of year, I usually mix up my first batch of simple olive oil-and-salt scrub that I keep on the kitchen sink for post-gardening clean-up. This past year, though, I’ve been less satisfied with that basic remedy, and this spring I began experimenting with a better mixture that would be creamier, more moisturizing, and easier to rinse off. I’m happy to say that I finally hit on just the right combination!

This dirt-busting scrub incorporates coconut oil and liquid hand soap, and it really is just about perfect. I use it on my hands as well as Niko’s and Sofie’s. It’s gentle enough to use on little ones, but tough enough to scour off even our iron-rich, clay-based soil. It’s also excellent for cleaning off engine grease and tree sap, and scrubbing off leftover sticky labels from jars! On my own hands, I like to use a bit extra for massaging my cuticles before rinsing it off, because the coconut and olive oils are great for giving dry cuticles a moisture boost.

The recipe I’ve given here makes a small batch. I recommend starting small until you see how fast you use the scrub, especially if you’re making it during warm summer months. It doesn’t happen often, but I have had a similar mixture turn rancid after a couple of months in a hot kitchen without air conditioning. I recently made a batch about three times this one, because our family uses it pretty fast.

I like blending salt and sugar because the crystals are different shapes and sizes, so they pack an extra punch as they get into all the crevices of hard-working hands and feet. You could experiment with other crystal sizes, like fine canning salt and coarser sea salt.  Be prepared to adjust the amounts of oil needed. It will fill in the spaces between larger and smaller crystals differently: the finer the crystals are, the more oil you’ll need.

Crystals of different sizes: fine canning salt, coarse sea salt, and table salt.
Crystals of different sizes: fine canning salt, coarse sea salt, and table salt.

To make this easy hand scrub, start by blending one tablespoon of coconut oil with 1/2 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of sugar. Blend till there are no lumps of coconut oil left, and then add 1 tablespoon of liquid hand soap and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Blend thoroughly. It should look smooth and creamy, with maybe a little olive oil pooling around the edges if you stop stirring. The pooling is just fine — if you use less oil, it will settle below the surface, making the scrub harder to scoop.

A creamy scrub.
A creamy scrub.

Before storing the scrub in a bowl or jar with a firmly-fitting lid, you could add a few drops of essential oils for scent or for extra cleaning or healing power. My go-to oil mix is a few drops of lemon, which is a good cleanser and has a fresh, cheerful scent, and a couple of drops (not too much!) of lavender, which will soothe dry or irritated skin. With my most recent batch, I used DoTerra’s OnGuard blend, an orange-cinnamon blend that’s supposed to boost your immune system’s efficiency. The orange oil, like lemon oil, is an excellent cleaner, and the warm cinnamon smell makes it perfect for a kitchen scrub. In addition to the essential oil, if you have jojoba oil on hand, a drizzle of that will be even more moisturizing and healing for chapped skin.

An assortment of ingredients for a creamy hand scrub: olive oil, hand soap, coconut oil, salts, essential oils, and jojoba oil.
An assortment of ingredients for a creamy hand scrub: olive oil, hand soap, coconut oil, salts, essential oils, and jojoba oil.

This creamy scrub is getting some heavy use in our house! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.