Monday, January 30, 2012

Rev Up Your Love Engines

With February starting this week we've been plotting and planning our V-day crafts. I've had several inspirational ideas from Pinterest that I can't wait to work on with the kids. We're also planning our V-day meal, which so far only consists of heart shaped red velvet whoopie pies. (not that I'm complaining) I kicked off the week trying out a simple needle turn applique project which looked SO bad that I had to hand embroider it to cover all the mistakes. Ah well, practice makes perfect.

I'm also in the planning stages of the kids Valentine's cards. I skipped making custom cards last year since neither kid was at a proper school, and I really miss having a year to look back at. These were from the two previous years, and while I love the simplicity of these I am sans a scanner and photoshop right now. So I might have to get a little creative. I'm thinking of making appliqued fabric panels and photographing them, that way I have hang-able wall art too. (Though there is always the possibility that I will run out of time and end up buying Disney Princess and Spiderman cards from Walmart.) Time will tell...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tiny Grayscale Lotus Chicken

This was such a fun little project to make, plus I tried some new things. I had never made i-cord, which I used for the legs, and I have never knitted a fully 3D object.

I learned I love using double pointed needles. The flexibility they allow, particularly in making the i-cord is so cool. (of course you have to watch them closely so that your work doesn't go sliding right off the end) Hey, and here's something I didn't know...did you know that i-cord stands for idiot cord? (as in you must be an idiot if you can't make this...rude, but honest)

I didn't have the colors they asked for to make the chicken, but I had tons of leftover grays and black. So I made a 2-tone gray chicken with black details. (hence the grayscale...hee hee) I also went a little crazy with the legs, thinking they would be cute if they dangled more. It wasn't cute...just weird, so I curled them up in criss-cross apple sauce and fancied it up by giving it a yoga name. (and then Laurel and I giggled and giggled about it) Man it's good to hear her giggle. She's been sick for so long now I thought I would never hear her real voice again!!! Giggling at my little yoga chicken was about the first real sound I've heard from her since the it was totally worth it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Recipes worth trying....seriously try them

So I tried out the recipes I posted yesterday and they were all a huge success. The preparation was pretty quick for the chicken and very very quick for the naan. The number of spices in the chicken (and the shear quantity of them) is almost shocking...but after hours of simmering together the sauce is so rich and full of flavor. I didn't have everything, so I made some substitutions...still great. Plus I only had cumin & coriander seeds so the whole kitchen was filled with the smell of spice after I ground them. And somehow the combination of rich spices, baking bread and chocolate whoopie pies made you feel like you were walking into some amazing food based wonderland.

This is the first time I ever tried to make whoopie pies. Laurel has been enamored with them since our trip to Savannah last year, but I just haven't stopped to make them. They were quick and easy to make and SO SO good. Plus I've been using white flour exclusively since Christmas because we had some picky house guests (kids that won't eat anything but white bread), but now that the white flour is gone I was forced to pull out the grinder for the whoopie pies and the naan. I couldn't be happier with the result! I had forgotten how much I loved the moist denseness that the fresh ground flour adds to sweets in particular, and that extra little nutty crunch that you just can't put your finger on (unless you know what it is...)

The naan was so easy I can't even describe to you how ridiculous it is not to make these. And it was so cool to open up the oven and see them all puffed up, and then watch them deflate. Today we'll be eating the leftovers...and I can only imagine the flavors have gotten better with time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Warming up from the inside out

My entire house is freezing except for the living area which is shut off from the rest of the house with sheets. I keep the woodstove going stong all day, and still I need slippers a sweater and my new knitted headband to keep myself warm-ish throughout the day. Because of this my housework has fallen to a ridiculous low...I just don't want to go into the kitchen to clean or upstairs to do laundry. I don't even want to go to the bathroom...I might get frosbite of the butt! It is that cold!! After nearly a week of single digit temps I am ready to be warm, and when I saw this recipe on pinterest it just screamed WARM. (from the inside out) I love Indian food, but other than adding curry powder to things I haven't really delved into it much. Today I'll be trying this recipe in the crock pot, and this recipe for homemade naan. Thank goodness for quick prep on both because I really don't want to spend longer in the kitchen than I have too right now. The inside of my kitchen window has been coated with ice all week...that's right I said INSIDE. Yeah, it's THAT cold.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cable Headband De Ja Vu

After making (and wearing) the blue headband yesterday I decided to make the one from the tutorial that I posted. I liked the way her cable looked almost like a braid. I couldn't figure out why the pattern shifted the cable back and forth, but now I see it makes for a deeper more dramatic cable. With the simple off-white yarn I think it came out beautifully. Seriously...give this tutorial a try, it's super easy and quick. If you haven't done a cable yet it's a good project to try it out.

What to do with all that cardboard?

After moving an entire household from Georgia to Alaska we ended up with a ton of empty cardboard boxes. I could have freecycled them, but there aren't that many people moving in and out of Ketchikan. I could compost them...but I'm not sure I'll be gardening that much this year. I could throw it away, but that seems like such an awful waste. When I was a kid I went to an exhibit on cardboard furniture at the High, and to this day I remember the working recliner made of cardboard. So I looked around online, knowing that someone somewhere must do something with all that left over cardboard. Here is what I found...

What I don't want to do is spend a lot of time making things that won't last. Obviously cardboard isn't wood...but I still don't want to make a bunch of stuff only to end up throwing it away in a month. I liked the tutorial for the bins because she doubles up on the cardboard for the bins. I will start with a few and see how durable they are...after that the sky is the limit.

Stay tuned to see what I do with an entire basement filled with cardboard boxes...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cable Headband

(with my new SLR camera I was able to catch both the beginning and end of the eye roll)

I had some leftover chunky yarn from a pillow cover I've been working on, and I've been inspired by some beautiful knitted headbands I've seen around town. It's not just a regular headband, but instead meant to cover your ears to keep them warm. There is something so simple and so pretty about a cable. Really not much more is needed, I really liked the warmth of the color and the size of the yarn. It just screamed warm and cozy. And since it's been hanging around 5 degrees here in K-town, warm and cozy are very important right now. I actually lucked out a bit that Laurel stayed home sick kept me from having to go out at all. So with both kids in their footy pjs and me in a lot of layers we're holding ourselves captive in the living room (which happens to be the only warm-ish room in the house).

I finished up the headband with a very oversized button that I've been hanging on to for just the right project. I think it adds a little touch of fun...cause that's what buttons do. I actually can't wait to get started on some buttons sliced from driftwood and burned with tiny nature pictures. (but that's for another month...)

For the next headband (mine) I want something a little more challenging. I bought 3 new books at the specialty yarn store (because they were 3 for $10!!), and there is one that is a knitting/felting book that has some nice lace patterns. Seems like a good time to try something new. I'm getting better at following patterns, so this will be a good test of my new-found patience for pattern following.

If you want to make a similar headband, I found this tutorial after I made mine. I made my own pattern, mostly because I like to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing and the best way for me to learn is to do it. But, I like the way she did this one...I may just do another one this evening using her pattern.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Leftover Headband

After finishing the skirt and the boot liner projects I was left with buttons, a strip of fabric and a pre-cut fleece flower. (I had originally planned to put flowers on the boot liners, then changed my mind and went with the whales) So with no rhyme or reason I hand sewed the flower and buttons onto the strip of fabric, then I ruffled the leaves with thread. Insta-cute headband.

I attribute my renewed zest for crafting to a couple of things:
1) Pinterest (All I can say is wow...I can see so many amazing things so quickly, and then save them grouped however I want with direct links to the original websites. Simply brilliant. I truly believe that this is the best use of a social network: positivity and constant creative streaming)
2) Sketching. I grabbed a new book and started sketching at least a page a day. It can be anything from something I'm thinking to a quilt plan. I find that it unclogs my mind as much (or more) than meditation.
3) Just doing it. At the end of the day this is the essential ingredient to getting a project started (or finished).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snowy Crafting

Something about the snow falling outside makes me feel like hunkering down and nesting. I made cookies, gumbo, french bread and this cute little skirt and fleece boot liners.

I'd been playing around with the fleece liners/socks for a week now, tweaking it to get it just right. Then after seeing my friend Becca's cute boots with a knitted cuff I just had to complete a pair finally. The sock I made using a pattern I made from a store bought fleece sock, and with a few tips from this tutorial. Then I just added the cuff to fold over right at the top of the boots. (while you may have never seen these before these boots are a BIG thing here) I personally don't have a pair yet (ahem...birthday coming), but thankfully I wear the same size as my husband who got his for Christmas (hee hee). He respectfully requested that the fleece socks I make for him don't have whales on them...but he said he thinks they're cute.

Craft number two was also inprired by Becca. (go Becca!) She posted a skirt tutorial on Pinterest and after a trip to Rain Forest crafts where I bought some lovely ON SALE ($5.99!!!) Amy Butler prints I just couldn't resist. I always save Laurel's old jeans to make into skirts but I hadn't made any in SO long. So I sat on the floor, hacked off the bottom of the jeans and added the double ruffle. It is such a quick project since you use pre-existing pants for the top. Plus, since Laurel's waist doesn't change size often the waist of the jeans fits long after the bum has gotten too small.

I love days when I feel like I've accomplished a little something extra!! (especially when ruffles and button-eyed whales are involved)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Home

Birthday Wishes for Luke

Happy Birthday to my little man. You are my little pal, my helper, my nuggler and my love. Who knew that boys could be so sweet and caring? I love watching superhero movies with you and nuggling in our special spot. I love the questions you ask and that you love to rock out. I hate that you have to grow up because it just can't get better than this...but I know you are going to grow up to be an incredible man. I love you so much!!

Reusable Fabric Tags

I love these, and every time I pull them out I smile. There is just something inherently special about pulling out a handmade fabric tag to put on a gift. The first one I made for Luke years ago. Since then I've made them out of felt, paper, etc. But sewn fabric are my favorite, and hold up the best year after year.

I decided to make these as a Christmas gift this year for a friend who bakes more than anyone I know. (as in why give a baker a baked present?) Plus she's crafty and appreciates the effort and love of a handmade gift. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, so I decided to make fabric tags for the whole family and gift them. Simple, cute and reusable.

I went pretty simple on the design, colors and stitching. Something about rustic simplicity feels right here in Ketchikan...and since we're both new Alaskan residents...even more so for us. Plus I finally found a use for this turtle bag I appliqued years ago for a give-a-way (and obviously never gave away). I love reusable wrapping too, but I confess I don't always have the time for it. One of these days I need to sit down and make a bunch of fabric gift bags and store them for when I need them. (but then that would involve planning ahead...not sure I want to start doing that!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beaches, Bottles and Bones

It seems like when the weather is the worst here, it is followed by the best. And when the weather is good on a school day we head to Rotary Beach. Besides beautiful weather we also found a tiny bottle, a sea shell and a bone. The bone looks like the rib bone of something relatively bigger than human, dog and deer. We're hoping it's something a dolphin or a sea lion. Laurel kept it for her growing collection of beach-found items. I think we'll make a little nature display table with a glass top so that she can arrange and rearrange her finds as she pleases.

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