Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mystery Project Revealed!

I finished the project!

...then I wasn't sure I should post it in case it was "seen." Hubby assured me that I should, so here it is:

It's a little Baby Washcloth/Hand Puppet Frog! (also, it's really hard to photograph when it's not on a hand! I had tried to prop his mouth open with the needle I had just finished using to attach the eyes, and it just felt wrong...) =D

I found the pattern here at Lily Sugar'n Cream patterns.

A few hints:
I used a Size G hook and did it REALLY tight. I'm hoping this will help it to keep its shape better when wet.

"Embroider" the nostrils BEFORE you put it all together. grrrr. You could do the eyes, too, but they weren't as bad.

I used worsted weight cotton for the body of the frog. I used regular cotton (HL I Love This Cotton) for the mouth. Since that will be that part that mostly touches baby's precious skin, I wanted it really soft.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Ideas Galore

Dittle Dattle is hosting her first link party today. Hop over there and check out all the great crafting and decorating projects over there (especially if you're like me and need help in the Christmas Decorating department!).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Movie Character

If you could be any movie character, which one would it be? (I know this doesn't seem like a very Thanksgiving-ish post, but bear with me.)

My answer would probably change regularly, but this time of year, I can't help but think of You've Got Mail.

Remember that scene where Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is in the grocery store, and she's desperately trying to avoid Joe Fox (Tom Hanks)? She's standing in the Cash Only line and is mortified because she only has $1 and just wants to pay with her credit card and get out of there. Naturally, Joe Fox comes to "rescue" her and tries to make nice with the cashier.

Joe: Rose. Great name. Rose, this is Kathleen, I'm Joe, and this is a credit card machine. Happy Thanksgiving.
(Rose stares at him. She's not going to budge.)
Joe: Now it's your turn to say "Happy Thanksgiving" back.
Rose: (deadpan) Happy. Thanksgiving. Back.

I want to be Rose in You've Got Mail! Every year, my sister and I say this to each other. We're pretty messed up, I admit, but it's a thing we do.

Now you have a terrifying insight into my mind.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving contributions

We missed out on hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I only have a small list of items that we'll be making.

Honey Wheat Rolls (hubby found the recipe and might still be changing his mind...I'll update later)

Pilgrim Hat Cookies (these are SO adorable that I just have to try them... unfortunately, I'll have to eat more than my fair share of them because my mother-in-law thinks that chocolate and peanut butter combined comes straight from the devil)
Here's how mine turned out:

Cranberry Sauce (made this for Christmas last year, it's already a favorite)

my "famous" Cranberry Tea. This recipe is so easy and so delicious, you have to try it!
Ingredients (I'll be doubling it)
4 tea bags
2 C. boiling water
32 oz. cranberry juice (or cranberry + another flavor juice--Cranberry Raspberry is really good)
1/3 - 1/2 C. dried cranberries (optional)
1/3 C. sugar
1 lemon, sliced 1/4" thickness OR a healthy squirt of lemon juice
4 cinnamon sticks (depending on how large they are)
If you'd like to go for the "mulled" flavor, add 6 whole cloves.

Place tea bags in Crock Pot. Pour boiling water over tea bags; cover and let steep for ~5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Stir in cranberry juice, cranberries (if desired), sugar, lemon, and cinnamon sticks. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours or on high for 1-2 hours.
Remove and discard lemon (if using slices) and cinnamon sticks.

The cranberries will plump up as this warms. I like having the bits of fruit in the tea. If you have leftovers, chill in refrigerator. This is also VERY good cold! I don't enjoy the cranberries as much in the cold tea, but you might like it.

This is a great recipe to throw together after supper before you go out for a crisp fall walk. Walk in the house with the rosy cheeks and nose and have a warm pot of tea waiting for you and filling the house with delicious aromas. Ahhhh! (Can you tell we've done this more than once?)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mystery Project - pic 2

After adding more since the last picture, I have taken it all out and started over.

Here's where the project stands:
 Any new guesses?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mystery Project

This is my current project.

Any guesses what it will be?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bead Crochet - smaller beads, complete

My recent Bead Crochet project is complete...at least as far as the beads go.

It ended up being ~13.5", so I'll be crocheting a few chains on the ends before attaching the clasps so that it's not completely a choker.

Materials used:
Transparent Silver seed beads 10/0
Transparent holographic seed beads 10/0 reddish, pinkish, orange-ish depending on the light ;-)
Extra fine crochet thread, size 30
Size 12 steel hook
Finally obtained a twisted wire needle for threading the beads--made life MUCH easier with these tiny beads.
Toggle clasp to be added soon!

With the photographer of the family unavailable for input at the moment, I couldn't decide which picture most clearly represented it. =D Here are two.

Enjoy your weekend! I have big plans to accomplish a lot...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How did I forget to post this?

While we were painting a couple weeks ago, I was talking with my friend when she asked me to come look at something. As I turned to set the roller down before following her, this happened:

Oops! Mama painted the wrong thing! I didn't see him sneak up on that side of me! He wasn't too sure about getting his picture taken, can you tell?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Make your own Refried Beans

My new found love is dry beans.

Inexpensive. Good protein. Good fiber.

...bad reputation.

I love to save time and money, and I understand that canned refried beans are super cheap. But when a huge bag of beans is even cheaper and the flavor is so much better, it's worth a try, right?

Here's how:
2 C. Pinto beans. Sort through the beans to remove any dirt (or, as I found one time, popcorn kernels...true story!) Rinse thoroughly. Soak overnight in 6 C. water. They'll come out with the water looking a little cloudy. Rinse thoroughly. This soaking process is part of getting rid of that bad reputation...

Add beans to a large pot and add ~6 C. fresh water. Simmer with lid tilted for 2 hours (preferably more) stirring frequently to get the beans to start breaking down.
Add 1 C. salsa. I really liked Dei Fratelli, but any salsa will do.
Continue cooking another hour or two to allow flavors to blend and water to cook down. Keep stirring!
You can see that my salsa is in and my beans are breaking down. At this point, it was a little too watery. I should have turned up the heat and let a little more of the water cook off, but oops! I just did it later.
Time for the stick blender.
Getting creamier!
Here it is all blended.
Time to check for thickness. This is where I decided to cook it down some more.
Ah, that's more like it!
This recipe works really well as a double batch, then freeze half for later.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bead Crochet - smaller beads

When I first wanted to try to crochet with beads, I wasn't sure how it would go.

I finished my first project, and I really loved it (once I got the hang of it).

Then I made myself a necklace. I love it, even if it is pretty heavy!

Next step was to try a smaller bead for a more dainty bracelet. I had to go to a smaller hook size, but I really liked how it turned out.

On Friday, we made a little family trip over to Hobby Lobby*. I wanted to get some more of the small beads and some smaller thread to go with it. (There were also a couple final items needed to make a Christmas present for a certain little boy...) I couldn't wait to get it going. I started threading it on Saturday, finished threading them on Sunday, and started crocheting right away.

Here's what I have so far:
I tried to make the picture big enough to see the differences. On the far right is the first one--largest beads (6/0), largest hook (size 7). In the middle is the bracelet with the smaller beads and smaller hook (size 10). On the left is the one with smallest beads (10/0) and smallest hook (size 12). I'm hoping it will be long enough to be a necklace. I can't stop working on it, so I'll post a finished product soon!

*The next day, I got to return to Hobby Lobby and attempted to make the biggest fool of myself that I possibly could. My friends, it was not a beautiful moment!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today's headache

I'm sure it has nothing to do with threading all those beads and crocheting something so tiny last night, right?

It will go away soon, and then I'll be able to post pictures to tell you all about it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Maybe drooling just a little...

This book crossed my web-path today.

There is a tiny little part of me that wishes it hadn't. There are plenty of patterns on my To-Do list!!! (keep repeating...)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas Coasters

A quick evening project while watching Monk.

I used this pattern that Ellie shared recently.

Size H hook
Leftover yarn

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A little Christmas Wreath

Here's my little project from Sunday night.

 With or without the red bow?

Super easy, and pretty much free!

Size G hook
Milk jug ring
Green yarn

Edit to add: If you're looking for the pattern, click here. Thanks!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Did Noah's wife crochet?

Kiddo was just reading a Noah's Ark book, and he was talking all about what animals may have gone along in the ark. Then he asked what Noah's wife's name was. He said, "I bet if there was yarn in that world, Noah's wife would have taken yarn along to crochet with."

Do you ever feel like you're tainting your kids with your craftiness?

How to Make a Cake without Eggs

Last week, I was about to make a cake when I realized that I didn't have any eggs in the house. There was too much on my "to do" list to add a grocery run, so it was time to adapt.

A friend of mine suggested substituting applesauce for oil in a cake or brownie mix (1:1 ratio, in case you're interested in trying it), but I didn't want to go substitute crazy. So I looked up some substitutions for eggs, and here's what I found.

Start with a box cake mix (because when they're on sale as cheap as what we found, it's not worth making it from scratch). Add the amount of oil called for on the box. Instead of adding water and eggs, add one can of soda. If it's chocolate cake, you can use a dark cola. If it is lemon cake, try lemon-lime soda.

I wasn't sure if it would be possible to overmix and make it not rise properly, so I only mixed it until it was all combined. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake for about 5 minutes longer than recommended on the box.

It's a much more moist cake, but it was the most evenly baked cake I've ever seen come out of my oven!

Ummm...forgot a before picture. We were hungry.
You can see it was also a bit more crumbly than normal, but it tasted SO good!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Potholders and washcloths

It's been a busy week, so I haven't had much time for "big" crafts. My hands had to stay busy on smaller projects! =)

Here's my updated collection of potholders and washcloth/sponges.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A little teaser

We had a little 50s and 60s night last night.

I've been debating whether or not I'm brave enough to post a picture of my costume...

So here's a sneak peek while I decide:

No promises!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Smaller Bead Crochet Rope Bracelet

I wanted to try a smaller bead for another Bead Crochet Rope to achieve a more dainty bracelet.

What I used:
Size 10 thread
unknown size bead, but smaller than my 6/0 Seed Beads, larger than 11/0 beads
Size 10 crochet hook (smaller hook fit into the bead stitch much better)
85 repetitions of my 3-blue (shiny), 3-purple (frosted) pattern

Finished product of beads was 7 3/4". Once I attached the clasps, it was 9".

Here is a picture of the final product as compared to my first attempt. You can see the hook size difference and the bead size difference.
I'll be selling the Blue and Purple Bracelet on our ArtFire store once I get a better picture of it.

My love of all things cute and little

Growing up, my friend and I always loved to find normal things in very cute and little sizes. Things like a tiny little screwdriver--completely practical for certain jobs, but we thought they were SO cute! I still remember that she had a little (smaller than the palm of her hand) dictionary that she had in her backpack in high school. I'm sure it didn't have every word imaginable in there, but it was fun! My hubby brought home a little Croc keychain and a Converse All-Star keychain because I love shoes, and I love tiny things.

So, you can imagine my delight when we came across this little beauty in our container of mushrooms for supper yesterday:


OK, cute moment over. I'll try not to use "little tiny cute" in combination again for a long time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Clean Your Blinds

One winter, I noticed that the condensation on a set of our blinds had turned moldy. GROSS!!! I immediately took them down knowing I'd have to clean and bleach them. But how could I do it? The only times I remember my mom cleaning the blinds when I was a kid, she had to lay them out in the sun to let them dry. That was not a possibility in the middle of winter. Just the same, these had to go or mold allergies would be kicking in.

Here's how I did it:

Sinch them up together for easy moving. Off they go to the bathtub. Bleach away the mold first, solve the rest of the problems later, right?

(Thankfully, this is when brilliance struck.) Hang the blinds with a couple extra shower curtain hooks!

After I bleached them, I knew I'd still need to clean off the grime and dust that accumulates. I'm a big fan of SC Johnson Scrubbing Bubbles, and I thought I'd give it a try.

It worked brilliantly!! Turn your blinds just enough to be able to see the whole surface of each slat. Spray liberally with Scrubbing Bubbles (Mega Shower Foamer is not necessary--standard Scrubbing Bubbles are great, this is just what I had on hand). Allow to sit for a couple of minutes. Go back and look with disgust at how much grime has dripped off of them and is now draining down your tub. Give them a good rinse with hot water. Repeat if necessary.

Helpful tip: Try not to let the Scrubbing Bubbles dry on the blinds. This will make sure that all the work it has done to clean away at the grime doesn't then turn into a dried layer of soap and grime.

Helpful tip #2: Turn on your hair dryer and close the doors for several minutes. This will help speed up the drying process if you need to hang them back up quickly.

I was so thrilled with this, I finished cleaning the rest of the blinds in the house in record time. GO SC Johnson Scrubbing Bubbles*!!

Widge mentioned last week in a comment that her favorite cleaning tip is to vacuum her oven! Love it! Can't wait to try it so I don't have to touch those mystery burnt chunks that inevitably land in my oven.
What's your favorite cleaning tip?

*SC Johnson is not sponsoring this post, I just feel that strongly about how amazingly it worked to clean my blinds. I'm a fan!