Monday, July 21, 2014

Hooks and Needles: Crocheted Purple Shawl

Project: Schultertuch/Dreieckstuck by Orchideeflower (Ravelry)
Yarn: Spark Yarn in Purple

Guess what?

You know all those giveaways on Instagram?

I actually won!!!

Spark Yarn actually sent me a bundle of yarn that included this purple awesomeness!

But I needed something equally amazing to create with it to show off the beauty of this I began to search Ravelry for a pattern.

A simple shawl...very easy to do...and once I finished the first hank I decided it needed to be bigger and ordered another hank and turned it into this beauty of a wrap that's perfect for summer night dinners on the patio at the Cantina, don't you think?

And stay tuned... I might have done something equally awesome with the other yarn!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hooks and Needles: Market Bag

I needed something great and easy to send in a swap...and I searched for just the right thing based on the information I had on my swap partner.

Pattern: Lacy Crochet Market Bag from Red Heart
Description: Keep this roomy bag handy for shopping or when traveling. This is a great gift and a simple way to encourage ecology.
Difficulty: Easy
Yarns Used:
Cascade Superwash 220 in Lime (0851) - 2 skeins
Cascade Superwash 220 Paints in Celtic (9770) - 1 hank

Sounds good, right? With shops charging for bags, I thought this might be a perfect little something to include in my swap package.

 It is a large, roomy bag that is also compact when not needed. I was actually able to put three boxes of Fruit Loops cereal in this bag with no issue.

Yardage is completely off...I needed double the amount the pattern stated.
With the design of the bag, I would classify this as an intermediate level.
Needs pictures or a stitch diagram.

I am hoping my swap partner loves it as much as I do....and I've started on for myself since is love it so much!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sewing: Crochet Hook Case

 It's not perfect, but it is done...and I'm so happy!

Finally something to carry all my crochet hooks and tools together instead of plastic baggies...and prevent a certain dog from chewing my hooks!

And see that crochet motif on the front? I did that...yes, I really did it myself!
 It has covers for all the areas so I won't have things dropping out.  And bright pink buttons to hold everything down...because you just need a bit of pink in every project!
I have a pocket for each hook...and a few extra just in case my collection grows.  Plus, some of the pockets on the right are larger for things like your scissors which need more space.

Oops! Forgot to take a picture of the two outside pockets holding my stitch markers, measuring tape, and other such needed things I've been told are needed for crochet....and I even used my pretty Daiso zippers, the brown polka-dot ones.

I'm a happy moving on to a few sock sacks and project bags to keep everything in order.
If you can think of anything else I need, let me know....

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Recipe: Upside Down Banana Bread with Caramel Sauce

Another Pinterest Recipe tried and tested that turned out fantastic...think a cross between Pineapple Upside Down Cake and banana bread.  I'm blogging this it so I didn't loose it in the future....but I think next time I'll actually add pineapple and cherries to the top layer plus chocolate chips to the batter to see if it will taste like a banana split.

Note:  These are not the original directions....they've been adapted to the way I cook.

Step #1: Getting Things Ready
Make sure your oven is empty of all pans.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan, making sure to cover all surfaces.

Step #2: Creating Top Layer
In the bottom of your grease pan, layer the following in the order given:
  3/4 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into several small pieces
  2 medium-sized Bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Step #3: Combining Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, combine:
  1-1/2 cup White Flour
  3/4 cup White Granulated Sugar
  1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  1/2 teaspoon Salt
  1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Step #4: Adding Wet  Ingredients
Once you've whisked your dried ingredients together, lightly combine with:
  1 cup Mashed Bananas (about three medium)
  2 Large Eggs
  1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  3/4 cup Buttermilk
  1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Step #5: Baking the Bread
Pour the batter evenly over the ingredients in your baking pan.
Place your baking pan in your preheated oven.
Bake for one hour or until a pin inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.
Allow your bread to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it on a cake platter.
Don't you dare cut it yet...wait for it!

Step #6: Caramel Sauce
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine:
  4 teaspoons Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
  4 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  4 tablespoons Heavy Cream
Microwave in one-minute increments until it boils and turns into a heavy sauce (about three minutes).
Let the sauce set for a minute or two so it's not so hot to handle.
Carefully pour the Caramel Sauce evenly over the top of your bread and wait for it to cool.

Now enjoy!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Family: The Melted Crockpot

My pretty crock pot...
  Sitting on the counter...
  So shiny and bright!


See that black part on the bottom of the crock pot?  Do you know it melts if it sits on a lit burner?

It was an accident.  I was cleaning the counters and moved the crock pot to the top of the stove to clean underneath it, as I had made lamb curry in it the night before.

As I pushed the crock pot to the back corner of the stove, one of handles must have knocked one of the knobs to High, and the next thing I knew I was smelling something burning.

And that something was the bottom of the crock pot melting all over the stove!

Good thing it was easy enough to clean up...the plastic lifted right off the stove once it had cooled down.

So now I'm on the hunt for another crock pot...any recommendations since it's been awhile since I've bought one?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hook and Needles: No More "That Girl" with the Plastic Bags

I brought my yarn and crochet hook in the plastic bag the yarn store put it in when I purchased it.

Walking in the room for Crochet School I noticed...
   I was the only one there with their yarn and hook....

I was so embarrassed!  Everyone had these nice, fancy bags....
 Granted they were seasoned knitters...
 And had been using yarn for quite a while.

I vowed I would have a nice bag the next time I walked into that room...and that will be this Friday.

Not only did I complete a bag with lots of pockets, even one with a zipper... but I also crocheted a purse!
  Basic brown with a beautiful pink floral pretty!

Just need to do a crochet hook carrier before Friday...a pretty, fancy one...brown too!  But no more pretty pink floral fabric...I'll just have to use something else.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Recipe: Afghani Potato Salad

Our favorite Afghani restaurant has closed, and I'm obsessed with recreating their potato salad since it's so good!

This recipe is oh so good on a hot day....and pretty close to what they serve.  I'll update this page as I play with the recipe.

Afghani Potato Salad
Blend together:
 4 ounces fresh Cilantro Leaves (not dried)
 1 Jalapeno pepper, inclluding seeds
 3/4 tabllespoon Sugar
 2 cloves Garlic
 1/2 teaspoon Salt
 1/2 cup Distilled White Vinegar
In a bowl, combine:
 3/4 lbs. Russet Potatoes, boiled, skins removed, and cut into bite-size pieces
 1.5 cans Chickpeas (15oz cans), drained and rinsed
 Cilantro dressing
Once combined, refrigerate for two or more hours to let flavors meld together....and emjoy!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hooks and Needles: Off to Crochet School

I learned to crochet from my Gramma...
   First learning how to chain...
  And then me how to do a granny square..
  Many, many years ago.

The rest of it's from books and videos...never, ever any formal instruction.

So I decided to take a few actual crochet classes....
   Hopefully learning new things...
   And helping control those stitches.

Four classes...
  Today was the first...
  Just a practice square...
  To introduce you to some stitches...
  And to make sure you were comfortable with your needle and yarn.

What I learned:
  Skein vs. Hank vs. Ball:
    Really? Not all bundles of yarn are skeins?  Tells you what I know.
    A ball of yarn is a "conglomeration" of yarn where you can pull yarn from the inside or
       outside to use.
    A skein of yarn is the same as a ball, just in an oblong shape.
    Now a hank...that's a new one...a hank is is yarn that is loosely wound into a large ring
       And then twisted onto itself...
       Usually rolled into a ball or cake before use.  Yes, there is cake in crocheting!!!
  Turning Stitch(es):
    Those little chain stitches you do at the end of a row before you turn...
     That's what you call them!
  Stitch Marker:
    Not just for knitting...use to mark your top turning stitch so you can see where to put
       your last stitch on the following row.
 Tension Matters
   If you pull your stitches too tight, you can't get your needle through them.

And, most importantly,
   Give yourself permission to RIP it all out if it's not working for you...
   It's just can restitch it after all.

Needless to say, I need to spend some time finishing my homework square...and I might just rip it again...see how the sides don't line up?  Hmmm.....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hooks and Needles: Hunting the Elusive Crocheted Elephant

Close your eyes...that's right I said close your eyes!

Are they shut? Tight?

Think of the jungle...
  and lots of green.

Animals...snakes, monkeys, spiders...


Is that the elusive Crochet Elephant I see? is! Be very quiet, and perhaps we'll get a better shot!

 There he is...hiding in the grass....isn't he just the cutest thing?
He hasn't spotted us yet...he's coming closer....look at all his marvelous color!

 Magnificent beast isn't he!  We're lucky to see him!

Ack! I told you to be spooked him! See if I take you hunting again!
  PS: Love that cute heart tattoo and curling tail!

   Crochet Elephant adapted from JamMade pattern.
   Madeline Tosh Technicolor Dreams from Jimmy Beans Wool
  This is the first animal I've ever made, and he turned out so cute! He will be the perfect addition to The Momma's Easter basket.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hook and Needles: There's a YARN TRUCK!!!

Photo courtesy of the LA Times
because I forgot my iPhone at home....duh moment!

I've heard of mobile libraries...
    Blood mobiles....
    And food trucks.

But a truck with yarn?


May I introduce you to the Yarnover Truck, carrying lots of luscious yarns to locations all around Southern California?

Today it was in Irvine...
  Which is close to my house...
   And I got to touch all these beautiful yarns!

Photo courtesy of LA Times
This yarn came home with me....
  Because it was the color I needed....

And the label is just too cute, don't you think?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hook and Needles: Crochet Mood Blanket Update

Admitting you don't like your throw is tough...and actually getting to the point where you can rip it apart is even harder.

Originally I had started setting these squares in a variegated yarn....
   All eighty...
   Eight rows of ten per row.

But then I stopped...
   And stared at it...
   And stared at it...
   For over two weeks before deciding I really didn't like the variegated yarn.

I have a new plan involving just the original Mandala blocks edged in white.

It took me under two hours to remove all the variegated yarn from the completed throw...
  And two evenings to join it all together without the variegated yarn.

Now I have 80 blocks joined together that make me happy...
  another 15 or so blocks in a bag waiting to be joined together...
  and lots of yarn to make new blocks, especially pink ones.

Doesn't it look great?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Quilting: Background Choices

Yeah, that's the Kona Sunrise bundle...and I bought it a few months back because I just love it!

Now I've found the perfect pattern to use it in...I think it will show off the fabric quite perfectly and become a quilt I'll want to use forever.

It's a star quilt...where I'll need a background fabric to offset the star fabric.
   The star will be one of the fabrics from the bundle..
   The star will be embedded in a solid block of color, a different fabric from the bundle.
   It will be embedded in a block consisting of another one of those fabrics.

And there will be a third fabric...a background fabric to the star.

Which background fabric should I use?

Normally I'd just use the Kona's my go-to background fabric, and it'd offset the blocks perfectly.

But I'm second-guessing myself....when I went to the fabric store, I brought home a bit of the Kona Aqua...and it works perfect with these fabrics.  Besides stars come from the sky..and should reside in a blue fabric, right?

Decisions, decisions...the safe choice is with the White, but I really love the Aqua.

Help a girl out...what would you choose?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hooks and Needles: Send Yarn!

Sorry it's not square...I was rushing to get the morning light before running errands.

Are you doing the 2014 Crochet Mood Blanket?

I am...and I pulled out my Mandala blocks to finish for this project...
  There were just two...
  So beautiful they deserved to be in an afghan.

My progress to date:
  82 blocks completed to the white yarn
  31 blocks completed with the variegated yarn, ready to join
  18 blocks joined together

But I have an unexpected problem...being a newbie to this art, I don't know how to estimate yard needed.
  I've run out of yarn...
  Both the white and the variegated...
  And the yarn shop doesn't have any more in stock, but it should be in soon.

So I'm at a complete standstill...unless you can tell me where I can get Encore yarn.  There are no more yarn shops locally in my area, and the big chain stores don't carry it.  I've searched the internet with no where do I get it? Do you have any you could spare?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Recipe: Caprese Garlic Bread

Yesterday I made Caprese Garlic Bread...
  Because it was Meatless Monday...
  Because it was easy...
  And very yummy for my tummy!

A few of you saw the picture on my FaceBook page and asked me to post it.  For credit purposes, I found this recipe on Pinterest....and have added a few notes at the bottom of the recipe for what I'd do differently next time we make it...and there will definitely be a next time!


1 loaf Italian bread
4 tablespoons Butter at room temperature
3 cloves Minced Garlic
12 oz. fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 medium Tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup Basil, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Add Balsamic Vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a bowl.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Add minced garlic to butter and mix until well blended.
Cut the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Butter the cut sides with the garlic butter.
Place on a baking sheet with the cut side up.
Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the bread evenly.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the edges are starting to brown.
Top with the sliced tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, and salt/pepper to taste.
Drizzle with your Balsamic Vinegar reduction sauce.
Cut into slices and serve.

What I'd do differently next time:
- Use Ciabatta bread...not so much fluff.
- Add more garlic (we're garlic fiends here).
- Bake with tomatoes and basil so you'd have a totally warm sandwich

And it will be made again in this house!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Family: The Blue Bed... Decisions, Decisions!

It's time for a new bed....
  Ours is so old....
  It's just time.

And it must be a smaller bed...
  The California King is worked in the old house,
  But it's just too big here.

So I've been bed shopping...
  Looking at all the options...
  Trying to make a fully informed and logical decision.

You see that blue bed up there?
  I love it!
But it's not the responsible or logical decision...
  Definitely not the frugal choice...
  As if I were going for frugality, 
  I'd choose this...

A lot more simpler...
   Not so blue...
   And definitely a more frugal choice.

And what happens in five years or six years...
   Will I tire of the blue?
    That would not be good!

 Decisions, decisions....
  At least i have a few days to decide...
  The sale doesn't end until next Monday.

Perhaps you could help? What would you decide?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quilt: Scrappy Trip Around the World FINISHED!


First finish of 2014!

Scrappy Trip Around the World
  Fabric: Fun Flowers by Holly Holderman of LakeHouse Dry Goods
  Pattern: Scrappy Trip Around the World found at
  Quilting: Lisa Alexakis at Sew Modern

I had started this last year...
  completed the top rather quickly....
  because it was an easy pattern.

Found the backing fabric...
 pieced it together...
 got it to Lisa for quilting...
 who did a marvelous job!

And there it sat....
  for almost six months...
  just needing binding.

I detest handsewing...
  and binding is handsewing.

But it's been colder the past few nights here in California, and I got it done.
  I was nice to have on my lap...keeping my legs warm while I sewed it down.

Thinking I should learn how to machine bind, as I've got another in my WIP pile just needing binding too!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hooks and Needles: Simulated Braid Join

I've been stalking Pinterest for a way to join my granny squares together.
   And when I found a picture of the Simulated Braid Join, I knew I had to do it!

Problem was the link didn't work....
   And then when I found it...
   You had to refer to another link to do the first part....
   And then go back to the first link to finish it up...
   Totally a mess!

But I persevered.

First I needed to go to the yarn store...
   To find a great variegated yarn to set off the colors in my square...
   And besides, do you really need an excuse to go to the yarn store?

 - Easy-peasy
 - Accentuates the colors in the granny square.
 - Squares up the granny square.

 - More yarn used.
 - More time involved.

And you want the low-down on how to do it?  Let me break it down for you:

Step 1:
Edge stitch two blocks by (single crochet, chain three) in each chain-3 space, (single crochet, chain 3, single crochet, chain 3) in each corner.

Step 2:
Hold the two squares right sides together matching up the corners.  Working through both thicknesses, single crochet in the first corner, chain 3 - single crochet - chain 3 across ending with a single crochet in the corner.

Easy peasy, right?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Recipe: Lemon Pound Cake

Downton Abbey, Earl Grey Tea, and a bit of Lemon Pound Cake....sounds fab, doesn't it?

I have to admit I grabbed onto this recipe when I found it on Pinterest the other day....
   printed it...
   and made it the next day.

Unfortunately it didn't turn out so well that first time...
   the inside was a bit like warm pudding
   not the product I was looking for...
   but it was really, really good!

So I tried again...
   mixed it all together...
   added a bit of vanilla...
   increased the oven temperature...
   and baked it a bit longer.

Now I feel absolutely comfortable sharing it with you, as it turned out totally perfect!  I even switched up the lemons for the glaze...more of a tart taste to offset the sweetness of the!

   Adapted from Plain Chicken's recipe found on Pinterest

3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt
3 cups Sugar
1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/2 cup Shortening, room temperature
5 large Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
6 tablespoons Meyers Lemon Juice
1 Meyers Lemon, zested

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray two (2) loaf pans or one (1) Bundt pan.
3. Cream together sugar, butter, shortening, eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest in your electric mixer.
4. Add dry ingredients, using a low speed on your mixer and blending just until incorporated.
5. Pour batter into your prepared pan(s) and bake approximately 55 minutes, or until your tester inserted    into the center of the cake comes out clean.
6. Cool in pans for 15 minutes, turn cakes out onto baking racks and then let cool completely.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sewing: Hubby Ripped Them for Me!

Some tiimes you need something simple to sew...welll at least I do on occasion.
  Something really easy-peasy...
  Something requiring no pattern...
  Something you can do in your sleep...

And this was one of those times.
    And it needed to be in the colors featured in the front room...
    Kona Peapod was the first up...
    Sort of a bright citrus green guaranteed to brighten your day.
    Perfect contrast to the stark brown leather sofa.

I went searching on Pinterest and found the Plus and Minus blocks.
   They could be based on a 9-patch block
   Center is white...
   Corners are Peapod...
   Center is striped white/Peapod.

Easy enough, right?

It was...until I started doing math and tried to figure out how to speed piece these blocks.

I stripped together three sets of:
    4.5 inch x WOF of Peapod
    4.5 inch x WOF of White
    4.5 inch x WOF of Peapod
 and then subcut into 4.5 inch rows for the outside of the block.

They were perfect...
   the seams were straight...
   I was so proud of myself for coming up with a shortcut.

  That center white piece should be a striped Peapod/White block!

And then Dear Hubby came to the rescue and RIPPED ALL THE SEAMS FOR ME!

That, my dears, is true love!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Family: Edgar Is TWO!

January 18, 2012...Edgar's Birth Date

That means he's TWO today!

It's hard to believe that he was once this cute little guy!

Current stats:
 Weight: 102.3 lbs
 Loves: Tennis Balls and Playing Catch
           Terrorizing Silas
           Talking Jaunts with Sophie
           Laying on the Back Porch in the Sunshine
           Eating Apples
Taught Us:
           Always put away your shoes or they'll get eaten
           Same with remotes and eyeglasses

So big! So different! But still a big lap puppy!