Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fibers on Friday: It's On Like Donkey Kong



Are you ready for this? It's time for second annual

TURNING HEELS IN THE NEW YEAR SOCK CHALLENGE!!!

I'm so excited that a few of you expressed interest and some of you even got a little head start....yay! I am ready to start; my big project (the sweater vest) is complete, I bought my sock yarn, and I got the cool sock button loaded back onto my sidebar and it's ready to GRAB! So, please grab it and spread the word!!

So, first things first; here is the vest! I am really thrilled with it. I knit it to fit a youth size 10-12. Here is my model, a six year old, so I think it should be perfect. I used Lambs Pride Bulky Wool and it's so incredibly warm. The pattern is called Keep Me Warm Vest.

I really enjoyed learning how to do the cables and I cannot wait to knit something for me which includes cables! I need a nice cardi/hoodie, so if you can recommend one, I'd appreciate it. So far I've considered the Central Park Hoodie because I know Stitched Together knit one and enjoyed it.

So now....on to BUSINESS!! I hope you're IN on the sock challenge. Please accept the challenge as a friendly invitation to jump into sock knitting whether or not you've ever tried. If it's something you've always wanted to try, please do! And we'll all do our best to help along the way. Jump in!! Again, here's the outline of my plan. Next week, please come back and show us the cuff and leg of your first sock!

Here's my plan: to knit a pair of socks by the end of January:
  • By Dec. 30th everyone needs to have gathered their supplies and checked their gauge.
  • January 6th we'll show off our cuffs and leg of the sock.
  • January 13th we'll show off our heels. Yes, Turning Heels in the New Year!
  • January 20st we should be done our gussetts and foot and be ready to close the toe.
  • January 27th we'll be well into our second sock and we'll display our works in progress.
  • By Feb 3rd we should be able to take a picture of our feet adorned in TWO fabulous socks!!








Modge Podge Clip Boards

My friend....whose blog shall remain nameless since it's now defunct.....STEPHANIE!!!!....made me this personalized clipboard a couple years ago.

Isn't she lovely? Isn't she beautiful? Isn't she wonderrrrrrful?

My kids are always asking to borrow it, so I decided to make them each one for Christmas. A nice little homemade gift from mama.

I'm no Modge Podge pro, but this was pretty easy and relatively quick. I read some tips on using modge podge in order to avoid bubbles and tackiness. What I learned is to apply a thin coat of the glue to the board. Then apply a thin coat to the back of the scrapbook paper you're applying. By the time you get around to placing the paper, the board will be almost dry. Use a credit card (or pampered chef scraper!) to smooth out the air pockets. Then apply a thin coat over the paper and embellishments. Let it dry completely between extra coats. I did three coats in all over the course of a few days.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Meatless Monday: Granola

I've been testing many granola recipes. This is my third or fourth batch. I scour pinterest for recipes and this one is a winner. It's lightly flavored with cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. It baked up perfectly crunchy and golden brown. I eat this over yogurt with my honey from Puerto Rico and I'm in heaven every morning.




From the Well Fed Soul

Ingredients

Dry
3 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used about 1/4 cup of ground flax instead)
2 cups whole, raw, unsalted nuts (I usually use cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds, but experiment with what suits your fancy)
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/3 tsp ground allspice (or ground cardamom is tasty too)

Wet

1/3 cup juice (whatever you have in the fridge is fine: cranberry, orange, apple...)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

"Preheat oven to 300 deg F.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, then pour over the dry, and stir well to combine.

Spread in an even layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. I like to have big chunks of granola at the end, so I pack mine down gently with the back of the spoon. Bake for 25 minutes, then gently stir the granola around the pan, bringing the crisper edges to the middle, so it cooks evenly. If you prefer to keep the nice, big clumps, don't overmix at this point. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until golden, then allow to cool completely. (The granola crisps up as it cools.) Once cool, store in an airtight container. Will keep for several weeks." (I baked this straight through for the first 25 minutes, but then did the stil-every-10-minutes method for probably 30 more minutes.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fibers on Friday: Cables at Christmas



Happy Friday!! I'm trying to post this week's knitting picture from my phone....


Wow! That was easy....but boy, is it ugly!?! Well, you get the idea. The vest....my first cabled project...is coming along nicely (despite how it looks in pictures!). I've completed the back entirely, cast off for the neck, and have the shoulder seams on holders. Now, I'm finishing off the front neck and it should be ready to ship!

Who's ready for this year's sock challenge??? We have a lot of new followers, so let's look back at last year when we did our first annual "Turning Heels in the New Year". Have you knit socks before? Are you an old pro who proclaims there's no sock like a knit sock? Have you always wanted to knit socks but haven't had the courage to take the plunge?

Well, in any case....join me!!! Below you'll find my projected schedule. Last year I found this time line to be the perfect amount of time to complete each phase without too much stress. If you'd like to join in, you have this entire week to gather your supplies, maybe get a book if you've never attempted socks before (may I suggest Getting Started Knitting Socks?), and check your gauge. And we'll take it from there!


Here's my plan: to knit a pair of socks by the end of January:
  • By Dec. 30th everyone needs to have gathered their supplies and checked their gauge.
  • January 6th we'll show off our cuffs and leg of the sock.
  • January 13th we'll show off our heels. Yes, Turning Heels in the New Year!
  • January 20st we should be done our gussetts and foot and be ready to close the toe.
  • January 27th we'll be well into our second sock and we'll display our works in progress.
  • By Feb 3rd we should be able to take a picture of our feet adorned in TWO fabulous socks!!

What do you say? Sound doable? Are you game? Here are the supplies you'll need:

  • sock yarn- 2 balls
  • double pointed needles-size US 2 or size to obtain proper gauge
  • this pattern-Silky Soft Socks by Premier Yarns as found on Ravelry and here is the PDF
  • The one and only sock knitting book I own is called Getting Started Knitting Socks. Maybe look for it at your library this week if you're so inclined. I found it very helpful.

I'll work on our button from last year so we can all show that we're participating in the sock challenge. I'll try to do that this week.








Monday, December 19, 2011

Meatless Monday! Candy?!

Are you getting ready to bake some Christmas goodies this week? May I suggest adding this to your list? I posted this recipe last year at the same time. I made several....SEVERAL....batches of these salted caramels last year. They were such a hit! Warning: it IS a time consuming process, but I really think they're worth it!

Can I post a candy recipe just this once for Meatless Monday? I want to share this recipe for Salted Caramels anyway and right now is the perfect time for sharing candy recipes, what with the holidays and all, so I'm breaking the rules and this is my Meatless Monday :-)

I made this batch as a test batch last week. Riiiiiiggggghhhht, a test batch!

Tomorrow I plan on making about 3 more batches as gifts for Christmas. These caramels are super yummy. I used coarse sea salt from Costco and set the grinder for as coarse as it would go. So you get crunchy bites of salt every now and then and it is divine.

Be prepared to stand at your stove for a full hour. This recipe is from the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.

Salt and Pink Peppercorn Caramels

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 16-oz. pkg. packed brown sugar (2-1/4 cups)
  • 2 cups half-and-half or light cream
  • 1 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 to 1-1/2 tsp. flaked sea salt or smoked flaked sea salt
  • 1/2 to 1-1/2 tsp. pink peppercorns, crushed * I omitted this entirely*

Directions

1. Line an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter the foil. Set aside.

2. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, half-and-half, and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan (see Candy Thermometer, below). Reduce heat to medium. Continue boiling mixture at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until the thermometer registers 248 degrees F, firm-ball stage (40 to 50 minutes). Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil.

3. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Quickly pour mixture into prepared pan. Cool 10 to 12 minutes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. When firm use foil to lift candy out of pan.* Use a buttered knife to cut into 2x1/2-inch size pieces. Wrap each caramel in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Store up to 2 weeks.

*Test Kitchen Tip:For easier slicing, freeze caramel for 10 minutes before cutting.


More Meatless Monday at Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fibers on Friday: De Ja Vu??



Yes, we've been here before.

Yes, I'm nuts.

Yes, I made SIX more sock monkeys as Christmas presents for the kids in my family.

Yes, we have no bananas.

Yes, I have no knitting or crochet to show you.



Now that those are packed up and on their way to kiddos, I sat down and made couple more fabric gift bags. I made several last year, six of which served as the wrap for the sock monkeys I shipped off. So, I made six more out of fabric I bought on clearance last year. Tomorrow I can make a ton more with some bright, fun, fabric with ornaments all over it. I really, really love not having to buy paper gift wrap (or maybe just one roll to make Santa's presents non-questionable!) I plan to add more to my stash every year...passing them on to those I give gifts to...and eventually they'll just all be circulating amongst us!

Here are a few pictures from Puerto Rico, too!!





Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Ideas!

****Hola, folks! Just got back from Puerto Rico. It was fantastic! Until I have time to post something new, here is a post from last Christmas Season****


I know! I know! You don't want to see another Christmas Tree or Gift Idea! BUT, I have to share this now since I didn't have time before the holidays and I don't want to wait to show you these ideas because they require a little planning (and drinking!).

These wine cork Christmas Trees were circulating blogland this year. I had a nice {little} collection of corks {ok! 64 to be exact} and I was excited to put them to use. I came up a little short, so I put a shout out on Facebook for friends to give me their corks. I got enough to make three trees! So, if you think these are as adorable as I do, start saving your corks now for next year!

And if you are so inclined, here's my advice for glue: use Gorilla Super Glue and work one row at a time. Hot glue simply did not work for me.

Second idea for next year: Fabric Gift Bags! My friend over at My Year in Haiku wrote about her attempts at a paper-free Christmas two years in a row. I was immediately inspired last year and started a collection of alternative packaging right away. This year she showed a picture of gift bags she sewed and I remembered a stash of Christmas fabric my mother-in-law gave me years ago and I got to work.

This yardage of fabric, plus another, yielded 9 gift bags! As you can see, it was perfect fabric because of the square images.


What do I post this NOW? Because I think now is the perfect time to head over to your fabric store, look at the Christmas clearance section, use a coupon, and start your stash for next year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fibers on Friday: Cables



Hello! I've managed to get this post done before I head out to Puerto Rico for a week....woohoo! We're attending a wedding on Saturday in San Juan and then we're off to the other side of the island, Aguadilla, to visit friends for the rest of the time. I know we'll be doing tons of exploring and site seeing...I can't wait.

I really haven't done too much knitting. I just got finished with the sock monkey project and then I jumped into making EIGHT more for Christmas presents. And for some reason, each one seems to take wayyyy more time than the previous batch. Hmmm???

And besides that, I've settled in to reading on my Kindle. When I fist got it 2 weeks ago, I have to admit, I almost sent that sucker back. It was really hurting my eyes, giving me headaches in the middle of the night, and I just wasn't loving it in general. But, I pushed through the adjustment phase, I tweaked some of the brightness and color settings, and now I'm a happy reader. So happy, in fact, that I'm on my third book. I read Room; very intriguing albeit disturbing. Then I read the second book of the Hunger Games, Catching Fire, another page turner. And now I'm on Unbroken. I don't know how this device gets me turning through books so quickly, but I'm loving it!

Anyway, here is the progress on my first cable project. This is the sweater I'm knitting for Afghans for Afghans.


Oh yes, I am really enjoying the cables! Such a huge effect with very little effort! Everyone was right who said they were easier than one would imagine!



Monday, November 28, 2011

Meatless Monday! Rice Noodle Salad


I'm making this tonight for Meatless Monday. I'll let you know later how it was! It's found in Cooking Light, Aug. 2011.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fibers on Friday: Monkey Business



I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I did, despite being the first one away from our family in years. We have fabulous friends who helped us have a relaxing, easy, enjoyable day!

A delicious smoked turkey

A super cute kid's table


And lots of fun playing Ninja Fruit!


I thought I'd show you all the sock monkeys my Daisy Troop made to send off to Craft Hope.

No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!!!



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Capri Sun Projects

So, while I was playing around with Capri Sun pouches making this bag, I decided to throw together some notebooks, too. My kids LOVE having their own little note book/journal/sketch pad/diary.


These were so simple. Just a matter of punching some holes, sandwiching a few sheets of paper between, sewing up the sides with embroidery thread and adding some beads for extra bling! If you'd like to see a video demonstration, visit textiles 4 you on her YouTube Channel.

(I love their spelling. The picture on the left is of their trampoline. She spelled it "chraplen". Are my kids the only ones who hear a "ch" for "tr" and "dr" words?)

But then, my kids took it one step further. They created their own little wallets....a bi-fold...complete with teeeeeny tiiiiiiny I.D. card and a key....check them out:


They did this by cutting 2 inches off the bottom of the pouch and cutting up one side to make it open out. haha! Genius kids I have :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meatless Monday! Treats

I've had two treats pinned on Pinterest for a while now and I finally got around to making both of them last week.

First, I made these no-bake energy balls. Yum, yum, yum!! I guess my mom must have made something similar to this when I was a kid because they're very familiar and they bring me back. They're healthy and they are the perfect little something to grab when you need a little nibble. I think they even give me a little extra boost when I go out for a run. The recipe can be found here, Smashed Peas and Carrots, and that's where I grabbed the image, too.


Then, I made my own granola bars. Another huge YUMMM! Kids even agree on this one (the energy bites are only so-so for them). I first had to make granola, so I chose this recipe, although there are several more I'd like to try. Then I proceeded with the granola bar recipe found on Back to the Cutting Board. Huge hit. We polished off the whole pan in 2 days, so I made more this evening!

They turned out extra chocolatey because I stirred in the chocolate chips while the mixture was still warm. On the pan I made this evening, I just pressed them on top. We'll see how we like it that way.

Anyway...I highly recommend these two healthy snacks!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fibers on Friday: Peas and Carrots



Hello wonderful people! Happy Fibers on Friday! I come to you today with knitting and crochet....side by side....happy as peas as carrots!


The vest that I'm knitting is for Afghans for Afghans. I'm knitting the Keep Me Warm Vest. And get this....I'm trying my hand at cables for the first time! You all assured me last week it was really easier than it seems. And I must say, it's pretty easy! In the picture you'll be able to see my first twist.


The afghan I'm crocheting is the Offset Shell Pattern by Oh My Good Knits.


My excitement this week came in the form of the Kindle Fire that I pre-ordered a couple weeks ago. I was on the fence for so long about using an e-reader, but I finally dived right in and went for the Fire. I just got it yesterday...there are definitely some kinks to work out, but so far it's fun! Have you read anything you'd recommend lately?