Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A FO and another on the way

Ta Da! A FO for me! (That's a Finished Object for the uninitiated.)

Sorry about the dark photos. Although we have windows throughout the house, there isn't really any space that's good for shooting crafty photos.

This is the best shot of the front I could get. I don't think you can see the stitching as well here. The shirt has a V-neck collar.
This is Jane Snedden Peever's "Surf and Turf" pattern from "Crocheted Sweaters: Simple Stitches, Great Designs."

I made a tan crocheted hoodie like this last year for my sister-in-law. Mine is burgundy and a size larger. I debated whether to leave off the hoodie, but decided it gives it more character than just a plain ol' vest. I also added two inches to the bottom for a longer fit and I really like that.

The color is off, but here's the hoodie without me wearing it. I took some close up shots to try and show the stitching but they didn't turn out all that great. I really need to figure out a good place to shoot photos!
I did not, however, make the tie/belt that is included in the pattern. I didn't think it was needed and it would just be something I'd have to try and keep up with each time I clean the shirt.

On the hook now is the Hot Cross Slouch Slouch Beret by Jennifer L. Appleby, which was published in Interweave Crochet's Winter 2007 issue.

This yarn may prove to be too stiff for this pattern. I've got six more rows so we'll soon see how it works out!
Here's some books from Jane Snedden Peever. I don't know much about these books, but I enjoyed making the Surf and Turf pattern (I did make it twice after all!) and these books might be really cool to check out.

I've also included "Interweave Crochet" and "Interweave Knits," both really good magazines filled with all kinds of patterns and inspiration.


Monday, December 27, 2010

How-to: French Napkin Fold

When I packaged the Christmas napkins I made for family members this year, I used a French Napkin Fold I saw in my parents' "Food Network Magazine" issue. You can see the magazine's instructions here and my version follows below.

Here's a nice way to package up napkins for gift giving.
Start with the napkin right side up.
Fold the napkin up, with right sides touching.
Then fold a quarter of it down (right sides are showing).

Carefully flip the napkin over so the wrong side is showing and fold the napkin into thirds.

Now you have a little pocket where you can slide in silverware. You can stop here or go to the next step, which makes the napkins easier to store or package.

Fold the top half of the French Fold Napkin over and you have a perfect square for storing or wrapping as a gift.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas napkins

As you're reading this, we're probably already on our way to Indiana to enjoy Christmas with the hubby's family. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying the company of loved ones!

Ta Da! The final crafty Christmas presents of 2010 (minus some last minute baking) -- napkins! These are four sets of 9 napkins made out of fabric Chris selected earlier in the year (scroll to the bottom of that post to read about it).

(From top left, clockwise) American flag and bird fabric for Chris' parents, vine-y fabric (which I think looks sort of Christmas-y) for Chris' aunt and uncle and butterflies for my parents. All this was bought at Mountain Plains Fabrics in Fancy Gap, Va.
I cut out 14-inch squares and rolled hemmed the edges with my serger. This is a quick and easy project if you're still looking for something to make as a last minute gift.

To make more fancy napkins, cut out squares that are at least 15 inches and create mitered corners (here's one way to do it, as seen on BurdaStyle). You can also make larger napkins, if you like.

Fold and tie them with extra yarn or ribbon and they're ready for gift giving!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas scones 2010

Bam! I just baked 30 scones in an hour and 10 minutes! Yes! Half the holiday baking is finished. :)

Raisin-cinnamon scones, a recipe from Easy Everyday Cooking.

You can find the recipe here. I added one tsp. of cinnamon to the first step.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Publication: CraftSanity Magazine!

Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of CraftSanity has published her first magazine!

This image belongs to CraftSanity and is from the Etsy site. Now, go buy a copy!
Jennifer and many contributors offer a variety of recipes and crafty projects in this inaugural issue. You can order the 'zine on Etsy in the print or PDF format.

I've followed Jennifer for a couple years now on CraftSanity and encourage you to check out her new product. I'm sure it's wonderful! (I haven't gotten a copy yet, but plan to.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas dish clothes

I've finished two Christmas presents! Yay! Time to celebrate!

The last two dish clothes are bigger than the first two, which doesn't look as nice, in my opinion. Checking Ravelry, I notice that I only stitched up 42 stitches, not 44, for the first two clothes because I used a larger needle size than the project called for. Oops! Wish I would have remembered that before I finished the last two!

(You can read the first post about the first two dish clothes here.)

Other than that, I am pleased with how well they look. I think the clothes together look like a sunset at the beach -- tan for the sand and the blue-orange-yellow-white for the color of the sky. Nice! That's what I'll call 'em -- Sunset Dish Clothes!

I've got 2 more to projects to complete, not counting baking I want to do. If I don't get to them today, next Saturday and evening hours this coming week will be the only time I'll have to tackle them. (You can see the fabric for these projects at the bottom of this post.)

Those projects require the sewing machine, so I gotta brave the cold basement to finish 'em up. The snow outside doesn't make it any warmer either!

Luckily, those projects are quick and easy. I just got to make time to finish them.

First, however, I've got an app to fill out and it requires 4 essay questions. So, I'm off to finish that, eat some lunch and then, maybe, begin the projects.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BurdaStyle's annula giveaways!

Ooo, ooo, ooooo! Hurry over to BurdaStyle and enter in for the daily giveaways.

The lovelies over at BurdaStyle will host a giveaway daily through Jan. 3, 2011. Today's the first day so go comment and check out the prizes from here until the end of the year!

Today's giveaway is a Brother sewing machine. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Uniform Project

Most of last year, I followed Sheena Matheiken and her Uniform Project as she created different looks using the same dress (her uniform, which she had 7 of the same dress) for 365 days. She used tights, socks, shoes, bracelets and necklaces and layers to create a new look every day.

The Uniform Project was a statement about creativity and sustainability. And while she did it, Sheena raised money for Akanksha Foundation, an organization that helps impoverished Indian youth pay for their education.

Sheena's creativity was so inspirational! I loved seeing what she'd come up with day to day. I especially loved her hats and colorful tights. Here's a few of my favorite shots (all images belong to Uniform Project, I'm only using for demonstration purposes):

This year, Sheena has selected different people (or pilots) throughout the year, each raising money for their own charity. We're into month three and I'm loving November pilot Angela's style! She's the creator of Norwegian Wood (you can also find her on Etsy here).

This photo belongs to Uniform Project.
Angela's raising funds for Free the Children.

Go check her out and, if you're so inspired, donate to her cause.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gnocchi and Alfredo

I love gnocchi! And it's all Giada de Laurentiis' fault! :)

Last night I made a big match of mashed potatoes and pulled about 3 cups of potatoes to the side before adding butter, milk and salt and pepper to make traditional mashed potatoes. To make gnocchi, which is basically a pasta-like dish made out of potatoes, you add eggs and flour and roll it out.

The recipe I use is from Giada's book "Everyday Pasta."

For lunch today, I warmed up some alfredo sauce I had leftover from a fettuccine dish I made with kale, mushrooms and tomatoes several days ago. Oh, so wonderful! The alfredo recipe is from Easy Everyday Cooking, a recipe subscription service I used several years ago. I still use the recipe cards to this day.

If you tend to make a lot of mashed potatoes, how about giving this recipe a try. Below is the recipe from the book, but here's a similar Giada gnocchi recipe here. I've also included the alfredo sauce below, which is good but doesn't have garlic, which I thought every alfredo sauce had.

3 cups of mashed potatoes (24 oz.) (maybe 2 medium or large potatoes)
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)

After the potatoes are boiled and mashed, mix in the egg, salt and pepper. Then add in the flour and mix well.

Roll a palmful of potato out at a time into a snake-like log. Cut into bite-sized pieces. (Giada recommends running the cut pieces along the tines of a fork. I sometimes do this, but not always. This may help the gnocchi hold sauces after it's cooked.)

Next, plop the potato gnocchi by batches into boiling water. When they float to the top, they're done.

Top the gnocchi with parmesan cheese, if you'd like. Since I ate this with alfredo, extra cheese was not needed.

Other ideas: eat the gnocchi with tomato-based sauces or a browned butter sauce. I also wonder if this would be good as a pasta salad-type dish. Mmmmmm ...

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups grated parmesan cheese

Combine the butter, whipping cream and cheese in a bowl. And that's it! Throw it on some pasta, chicken, gnocchi or other dish.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grosgrain's Embellish Knit Month

Just peaking peeking in quickly to say "hi." I've been busy working on Christmas projects, a fall sweater (need to get that done a.s.a.p.!) and Christmas shopping.

While this as been going on, I've also been enjoying Embellish Knit Month over at Grosgrain. I love seeing how Kathleen alters various sweaters and cardigans she find at thrifts stores. It's very interesting and inspiring.

I especially like Day 8's cardigan. Kathleen added a flowerdy chiffon on the inside and a woven trim around the edge. Gorgeous! (Yes, I said flowerdy. I'm from the South, yo!)

Go check it out:

I'm also anxiously waiting for the new CraftSanity magazine that Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood has been working on for a bit. She gave a quick update today and I can't wait to see the finished product!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cold Weather = Sweaters!

It was cold enough today for me to put on a sweater!

The first sweater, in fact, I've ever knitted.

Note the "I Voted" sticker on the collar. I cast my absentee ballot today. Make sure you get out to the polls on Tuesday! If you can't vote that day, there's still time to cast an early ballot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

Katie over at Good Life Eats has me drooling over my keyboard this morning. (I found her post through Craftzine.)

Her Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate looks so divine!

 (Photo: Katie of Good Life Eats)
 I will most definitely make this at home, though I may substitute chocolate chips for white chocolate because I already have that on hand.

I'm also happy to find a good way to use up any unused pumpkin puree I may have left over from meals, such as last night's pumpkin soup. I've got a little less than 1/2 a quart in my fridge right now and was thinking about making muffins, but now I think I'll make this instead!

Friday, October 22, 2010

McCall's Holiday 2010 Collection

I sent this email to my mom and thought I'd share it with y'all as well:

I got McCall's Holiday 2010 newsletter this a.m. I checked out the collection and most pieces seem to be pretty basic and easy. Also expensive.

But I like these 3 (all images belong to McCall's pattern company):

I like the design in red, but I'd probably make it into a shirt. The zippers and stitching of the other 2 dresses are really nice too.

I love the jacket on the left. The shape looks really nice and feminine (without being frilly). The shape of the pink jacket isn't too bad either.


Project organizer! It includes a bag, knitting needle case, 2 organizer bags, scissor bag and yarn holder! How awesome is that?


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recovering pillows

Kathleen over at Grosgrain posted a great how-to under her How-To Tuesdays series: How to recover pillows!

Okay, maybe you're not as thrilled as me, but this is a great way to save some dough and/or mix up the look of your throw pillows in your living room. It's especially helpful if you're pillows are worn looking and need a pick-me up.

I know I've got a few pillows that need some more life and color. But that'll probably have to wait until after the holidays. I've got too much Christmas sewing to do and so little time to do it. :P

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Delicata squash

Lately I've been trying out fall squashes. Butternut, spaghetti and delicata are now marked off the list.

Delicata, seen below, is the most recent squash I've tried and I love it! It's sweet, smooth and great with a variety of seasoning -- from good ol' standbys salt and pepper to sage or cinnamon.

The first time I made delicata I sliced the squash in half, seeded it and sliced it into half moons. After tossing the squash in a combo of olive oil and sage, I baked it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning half way through the cooking time. Wonderful!

Last weekend, I wanted to create something using some tomatoes from the garden. This dish was inspired by tabbouleh, a dish that uses bulgur, a grain; tomatoes; mint; lemon juice and olive oil.

I also made pan-fried, thyme-rosemary-sage chicken breasts. This may not be the proper way to use herbs with chicken, so if you know a better technique, please let me know!

Both recipes are below.

Delicata Squash-Bulgur Salad (serves 2)
1 delicata squash
1 medium tomato
1/2 cup of bulgur
1/2 cup boiling water
1 Tbsp. tarragon leaves (or other spice, such as sage)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut delicate squash lengthwise and seed.

Cut squash in chunks and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Place bulgur in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Cut tomatoes into chunks and mix in a bowl with bulgur, squash and spices.

Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a bit of olive oil if you like.

Thyme-Rosemary-Sage Chicken Breasts (serves 2)
2 chicken breasts
4 tsp. sage
4 tsp. thyme
2-3 sprigs of rosemary (or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat large skillet over medium heat. When warm, pour in about a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

Rub 2 tsp. of sage and thyme on one side of the chicken breasts. Also sprinkle with rosemary. Place seasoned side down on skillet. Season other side of chicken.

Cook about 3 minutes on one side of chicken until brown. Then turn over and cook for a couple more minutes then reduce heat and cover skillet.

Cook for about several minutes until chicken is cooked through. I let it cook at a low heat for 20 more minutes while I cooked the rest of the meal.

Salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Upcoming book release

Kathleen over at grosgrain just announced that she's writing a book based on her "Frock by Friday" series!

That is so exciting!

I've never actually participated in this sew-a-long series, but I read the instructions every single day and I love it when Kathleen posts pics of her favorite frocks sewn by people following long. (She calls this feature "Flikr Favs.")

Kathleen is very talented and creative. I love seeing what she comes up with. Her How-To videos are also very informative for people of all skill levels.

Oh, and her "Thrift Store Thursday" posts! I love those too. She takes finds from local thrift stores and alters them to fit or uses them to create something new.

Readers, stop what you're doing and go visit grosgrain and check out all those wonderful frocks!

Congrats, Kathleen! Can't wait to see your book on store shelves!

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Christmas projects

More Christmas projects are underway! I'm very proud how I'm already tackling things and finishing them so early!

This will leave more time for other Christmas ideas, baking and shopping as the season draws near.

Here's the latest projects — knitted dish clothes. The pattern is here.

I bought the yarn at A Yarn Among Friends in Moundsville, W.VA. Chris and I were in the area last week visiting a friend and vacationing. You can read about that trip in various posts on Small Travels and Musings.

This pair of dish clothes are a set and I'll make another set just like it.

I bought this yarn to make a pair of socks.

I'll use "I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks," by Cindy Guggemos. I've used this book to make three pair of the Eyelet Chevron Socks. This time I'm thinking of Crest O' the Wave Socks or maybe Little Arrowhead Lace Socks.

I haven't decided if I'll make a pair for me or make them for a gift.

Also, Nannie told me this week that she bought me a book. She has picked out a sweater in it she wants me to make for her. I'm so honored and excited to do this for her!

Nannie fell and broke her hip last week and will be at a nursing home for up to 3 weeks for rehab. (Prayers would be appreciated.) So I'm not sure when I'll get the book from her. She wanted to finish looking at the book before she gave it to me. She also said she'd buy the yarn, but I'd rather pick it out with her and pay for it myself.

Hopefully someone will take the book to her and a baby quilt she's been working on to the nursing home. That way she'll have some things to keep her busy while she's there. She's not dealing with being away from home too well right now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2nd scarf completed

Hallelujah! The 2nd Christmas scarf is complete!

Here are the two scarves together.

Onward to new Christmas projects. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shirt ideas

As I said in this post, I'm planning to tackle some easier projects for awhile. I'm burned out from jackets, pants and other detailed projects. I need some quick satisfaction!

Here's what I'm thinking of tackling. I may not get to them all, though I would like to, especially as Christmas gifts.

These are all from BurdaStyle and the images below belong to them:

Madison -- I want a sweater dress to wear this fall and winter and thought I could make this in wool or thick cotton. Any other suggestions? I also wonder how hard it will be to add sleeves. I would want short or cap sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves.

J.J. Blouse -- This will be cute with pencil skirts and slacks for the fall. BurdaStyle also has it styled with a long sleeved shirt underneath and that might work to carry it into the winter. I think, maybe, a jacket will work too. (Yes, I know. This looks detailed. I told you I love detailed stuff. It's hard for me to get away from them!)

Sadie -- I would make the tank top, either cowl neck or the plain. I could see this in a fancier knit so that it could be used under jackets and cardigans. I probably would not make the dress. I had one of Chris' cast-a-side polo shirts, but now I can't find it. It's green and soft. It would work perfectly for this.

Natalie -- I was thinking of making this as a gift. I really like the seams in the front and the collar. This is one of BurdaStyle's plus-sized patterns and can be easily adjusted for different sizes. I would love to hear your color combinations for the collar and body of this shirt. BurdaStyle made the collar red on a black shirt.

Ellinor -- Another potential Christmas gift. I would even make this for me. It's nice and simple. Any suggestions? I was thinking a sheer fabric with a colorful ribbon would look nice over tanks and other shirts.

Lydia -- This would probably be a Christmas gift. I usually don't wear long-sleeved T-shirts, unless they have a V-neck collar and maybe a 3/4 length sleeve. I don't know how to alter the neckline for a V-neck, so this will probably be a gift, if I make it. If anyone knows how to alter the neckline, please let me know.

I'm hoping these will be quick and will be relaxing and enjoyable! Picking out the fabric and notions should be wonderful. If y'all got any fabric and color suggestions, please share!

After I've finished off a few, relaxing pieces, I've got denim I bought last year and I plan to make jeans. Hopefully I'll be recharged and ready to tackle them before the end of the year!