If you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free, cause there's a million ways to be, you know that there are.
--Cat Stevens

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ombre Hand Towels-Pattern

This is one of a set of three towels that I made.  I also made handmade buttons to match.  Pictures of the buttons and set will be coming soon.
Materials:  Classic Elite Yarns Pebbles- 1 skein each of 3 colors( I used discontinued colorways I got on sale and can't find the tabs for more info)  This would work with any worsted weight cotton or cotton blend but you size may vary.  I used a bout half a skein of each color to complete 1 hand towel.

F crochet hook
tapestry needle
embroidery thread in complementary color

Gauge: 3 rows in pattern = 9 inches across and 2 inches high. Gauge is not essential for this pattern

Row 1: With Color A, ch 45, 2 dc in 4th ch from hook (first 3 chs count as first dc), *dc in each of next 3 chs, dc3tog twice, dc in each of next 3 chs**, 3 dc in each of next 2 chs, rep from * across, ending last repat **, 3 dc in last ch, turn. (42 dc)
Row 2-8: Ch 3, 2 dc in same st, *dc in each of next 3 sts, dc3tog twice, dc in each of next 3 sts**, 3 dc in each of next 2 sts, rep from * around, ending last rep at **, 3 dc in last st, join Color B.
Row 9-16;  Continue stitch pattern from row two.  Join color C and end of row 16.
Row 16-24: Continue Stitch pattern row two.  Fasten off at end of row 24.

 Row 1: Count 15 dc from left side of towel and place stitch marker. Repeat on Right side. With color A sl st in the rightmost st marker to join.  Sl st across to 2nd st marker. (14 sl st)
Row 2: Ch 1, turn. Sc in next 3 sts, hdc in each of next 3 sts, dc in each of next 2 sts, hdc in each of next 3 sts, sc to end.
Row 3-10: Ch 3, turn, dc across. (14 dc)
Button Hole:
Row 11: Ch 3 turn. Dc in each of next 5 sts, sl st in each of next 2 sts, dc across ( 6 dc,2 sl st, 6 dc)
Row 12: Ch 3, Turn.  Dc2 tog, dc in next 3 sts, ch 2 skip 2 sl sts, dc in next 3 sts, dc2tog, dc( 5 dc, 2 ch, 5 dc)
Row: 13: Ch 3, Turn, Dc 2tog twice, dc, dc2tog twice dc. fasten off

Finishing:  Fold tab over and determine where to place button.  Use complementary colored embroidery thread to attach button.  Weave in ends.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Perfect V-Day

Pat works 4 days on and 4 days off schedule.  We usually try to plan a simple  cheap date/fun day each week.  This week I had brilliant idea, since it was Valentine's Day, we would drive up to his Grandfather cottage on the lake and spend the night.  We could have a romantic dinner and cuddle in front of the fireplace, have a snowball fight and go skating.  Pat checked with Grandpa and that would be fine. I had planned out a menu and written a list.  Tuesday morning I woke up and Pat told me something he had forgotten.  The cottage has no utilities ( water and electricity)  in the winter.   I was all set to go anyway and just use the wood stove for heat and candles for light, when Pat pointed out that the wood stove didn't have a cook-top and we wouldn't have any plumbing.  So I abandoned my plans.  It really didn't upset me, we were still going to have lunch w/ Grandma and Grandpa and I figured we'd just have a quiet dinner at home.  However,  Pat was kind of grouchy-bones all morning and feeling guilty about not telling me about the lack of utilities at the cottage earlier.

We had a great Valentine's Day.  Lunch at Grandma and Grandpa's was great.  Afterwards we visited Walmart and picked up a couple of things we need for projects.  Then we checked out the fabric store to get some ideas to slipcover an ottoman and pillows in our bedroom.  It was relaxing and fun to look at things without any pressure to buy.  After we came home we spent time play Star Trek Online and cleaning.    YES cleaning--our apartment was really messy and we were both kind of grouchy about it, so we made a deal for every STO mission we did we would do "house mission" that took a equivalent amount of time/effort.  It worked, our kitchen, entryway, and living/dining room are nice and clean, and it was actually a ton of fun.

We have continued this trend of rotating real-life "missions" with game missions and it's been great.  We both love video games and we both tend to retreat to video games when things seem to difficult or boring or when we just don't know what to do.  It's been awesome we have gotten a ton done and had fun doing it. Some of our house missions have been yucky like clean the kitchen and some of them are totally awesome like: make pie.  I totally off-topic of our perfect Valentine's Day--anyways after a big lunch and perusing stores and cleaning the house we needed a nice simple dinner that was still "romantic"

So we had breakfast, we had Eggs in a Hole, Bacon, Grape tomatoes, and strawberry banana milkshakes.  It took about 20 mins total to make and was super delicious.  (PS sorry for the crappy photos  I'll chalk them up to living in a basement in Canada, in winter--ie NO light)

How to make Eggs in a Hole:

You will need:
2 Eggs ( person)
2 Slices of Bread ( 1 slice per egg)--I use Gluten free for me and whole wheat for Pat
Oil or cooking spray
Cookie cutter, knife or glass

Step 1: Heat oil in pan over medium heat, cut a hole in the center of each slice of bread--I used a heart cookie cutter in honor of Valentine's Day, but you could use a round cutter,  a Glass with an appropriate size rim or a knife to cut your hole.  Put the pieces of Bread and the cut outs into the warmed up pan.

 Step 2:  Toast the back of the bread.  When the back of the bread is lightly golden brown flip it over with your spatula and crack eggs into the holes in the center of the bread.  Put a lid over the pan and let it cook for 3-5 mins or until the eggs are done to your liking.  Sometime I like to add a little cheese just before the eggs are done and let it melt.  Transfer to plate.
Step 3:  Enjoy!

I hope you guys had great Valentine's Days too!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sweet Love Letters from Grandma

Valentine's Day has never been a big deal in my family.  Mom always bought us valentines for school and gave us a little candy.  Once or twice I think we had special Valentine's dinners.  I have never bought a card or chocolates. I've only received one Valentine's gift --from my first serious boyfriend, and I believe that is the only time I've ever gone out for dinner on V-Day, as well.  V-day just isn't all that important to me, it's nice to have a reminder to take time for yourself or loved ones, but I've never thought it was a big deal.

But there is one big deal thing that happened every year on Valentine's Day when I was a kid.  My maternal grandma wrote us letters!!!!  We lived about 2000 miles from both sets of grandparents, so occasional visits, phone calls, and letters were huge.  And since it was Valentine's Day these weren't just any letters--they were conversation heart letters.   We were like kids on Christmas, when the envelopes arrived.  I remember ripping open the envelopes reading the letters and then pulling off the conversion hearts and eating them.  The candy was cool, but what was special about it was the letter.  Everyone loves getting mail/packages and love letters are probably about the best kind of mail you can get.  Grandma also typed a real letter to each of us and included with our conversation heart letters.  I love Valentine's Day.   Grandma died the fall of 1999 and the conversation heart letters stopped.   I have missed the love letters from Grandma,  and I missed the tradition.
So this year I wrote the love letters.
I bought a ton a conversation hearts and wrote letters to each of my 3 sisters and 1 brother and my 1 niece ( even though she is only 6 months old).  And it was a pain in the neck I don't know how grandma did it for more than twenty years for 30+ grand kids, but I plan to do it again next year and for as many years as I can in the future.  It didn't bring my grandma back, but for a little while I felt closer to her.

Conversation Heart letters are pretty easy they just require some time.

You will Need:
Cardstock for each letter you want to write ( paper work but cardstock is better)
A pen or pencil
Large and small conversation hearts  ( get at least twice as many as you think you'll need)
Powdered sugar

Step one:  Dump conversation hearts out on kitchen table.  Sort them based on the words and put all the ones that are too weird to use aside--or eat them.

Step 2:  Mix up you "glue".  I didn't measure so I don't know exactly how much sugar and water you need but you'll need to mix it until it is about the consistency of thick white glue.

Step 3.  Lay out the hearts you want to us for the letter in the order you want them on your cardstock and fill in the rest of the letter with a pen or pencil.

Step 4:  Glue down the hearts with frosting glue.

It took me about an hour a letter to get a short coherent love letter.

You won't be able to say anything too profound but you can write a short mushy letter expressing your undying affection or adoration.  And kids love them or at least I know we did.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My first Knitting

Last summer my oldest sister came to visit me.  We went up to my grandfather-in-laws cottage on a beautiful lake up in the mountains, and swam and ate and she taught me to knit!  She learned to knit as a teenager, probably around the same time I learned to crochet, and I have been wanting learn pretty much ever since.  I never got the hang of knitting when I tried to figure it out from books or videos, so it was pretty awesome to finally be able to knit.

Knitting is still insanely more difficult than crocheting for me and it took me a couple moths of practicing the basics and trying to knit things that were too difficult before I started on this simple hat and scarf set.  I finished the scarf in time for Christmas but the hat took me another a month.

They are super basic but I am so proud of them.  I can finally say that I am a knitter!!!!  

Have you ever made a simple project that was a milestone for you?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Noah's Ark

I have been working hard for the last few weeks on a very special project.  Before I say too much I want to show it too you.
My friend Angie is having a baby in about 4 weeks and this was her baby shower present, sort of.  She paid for the yarn and I did all the work.  I had a lot of fun making this blanket and it is really pretty simple.  There is no reason a beginner could not do this as a first or second project, but I have gotten a number of people on Ravelry who have mentioned to me that they love this blanket but could never make it because it is too hard or they don't crochet.  So I have compiled a few tips or ideas I have about this blanket in the hopes it will help you tackle this.

1.  You don't have to crochet.  Huh? What ?  Are you nuts?  Nope I am completely sane. Despite the fact that this is a crochet pattern, and I can only knit a very little bit,  I know that this is totally something that anyone with basic knitting skills could knit.  The base is a ripple afghan .  The boat is crocheted flat with a few strategic increases--you could totally buy the crochet pattern and simply knit the boat ( and house) as they are written.  The animals, with the exception of the giraffe's neck, are worked in the round from the center outward so break out your double pointed needles and you can do the same.

2.  This is a beginner to advanced beginner level crochet pattern.  So even if you just learned to crochet last week this is totally a pattern that you can do.  The background is all double crochet worked flat--super duper easy and super duper fast.  The hardest thing going on in the background are some increases and decrease ( yeah I know these are a tiny bit tricky for a beginner but you can do it).  The animals are worked in the round in single crochet which is also super duper easy.

3. Get yourself some audio-books or radio, or tv, music, movies whatever you like.  This is not super huge but you do have to work about a mile of plain old double crochet, plus sew all the animals on.

4.  Give yourself plenty of time.   I know I just said this was super duper easy and I stand by that.  However after finishing the background in about 2 1/2 days I then had to spend 5 days making little animals and about the same amount of time sewing everything together.  So although it is easy, this is not the fastest blanket in the world.

5.  Use a yarn needle with a great big eye.  You are going to end up sewing in 100 plus ends on this one.  Do yourself a favor and put your embroidery needles away after you finish the faces and dig up or buy a proper darning needle.  I have sewn in ends with embroidery needles before but it is always a fight to thread them. When you have so many ends to deal with you want to be getting the sewing done and not fighting with your needle.

6.) Use safety pins  to pin the animals in place to the blanket so they aren't wiggling all over the place.  Straight pins don't work--trust me,  and no pins are even worse.

7.)  Have Fun  The most important thing whether you knit or crochet is that you take the time to enjoy making an awesome blanket.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What is your super power?

In January I told you that I wasn't doing any resolutions this year.  It's going to be hard to describe this but that was totally a turning point moment for me.  I feel like I finally gave myself permission to be me just as I am now and not who I might be in 5 years or even tomorrow.  That person is not real, she doesn't exist yet and she might not ever exist.  And somehow I don't think torturing myself with self criticism and overwhelming goals etc in the here and now will help her.
I suffer from a couple of auto-immune disorders, debilitating migraines,  and severe depression.  I usually don't tell people this, because I don't like trying to explain something most people simply don't understand.  I don't like the weird, pitying looks or the unhelpful advice that I have received. I don't like being made to feel like I am pretending to be sick because I look just fine.  So I have learned not to tell anyone and to pretend like I just fine.  I am explaining it to all of you now, because it plays into what I have learned in my experiment over the  last month of just trying find peace.  Sometimes as I pretend to everyone else that I am not sick,  I convince myself that I am not sick.  I am not sure I ever realized this before, but as I have stopped trying to meet any specific goals and simply tried to do things in the moment that make me happy and comfortable I have started to realize that most of the time I push my body too hard.  I can put a smile on my face and pretend to the world that I am just fine, but I have to tell my self the truth.  I have to realize that I am sick and I need to pay attention to my body.  Listening to my body has helped me so recently, by stopping whatever I am doing when I start to feel tired or hurting,  I have actually been able to get more done rather than less.
That's all well and good you say but what does being sick have to with superpowers?  Nothing.  And everything.  We all have weaknesses I have just described a few of mine to you and we all have strengths--superpowers if you will.  When we fight our weakness--either by believing they are insurmountable ( I love that word it is so much fun to say) or by pretending they don't exist, we are paying our selves a great disservice.   Paying so much attention to our "negative" traits, draws our attention away from what we are good at.  So as I have began to seek balance in my life and gave myself permission to be imperfect.  I started to see that I was awesome; I could see all sorts of things that I was good at that I had ignored because they hadn't fit into my narrow vision of what I wanted.
Everyone has superpowers some of them are silly and some of them seem unimportant but they are part of what make you unique.  Your superpowers are the things that you are really good at, things that make your heart sing, and the silly things that only you seem to do.
So what ARE your super powers you say?  Well okay okay... I am good at talking, but in recent years I have become a superstar listener.  I am a good teacher, patient ( well most of the time), and a great sight reader--both music and books. I can read at the speed of light, and  I am great at reading aloud,  good with kiddos, I know how to relax and have a good time ( doesn't sound like much of a super power but trust me it can be).  I am good at cooking, crocheting, knitting ( well learning to be), and learning.  And last but not least my super power is creativity--I always have at least a dozen crazy ideas cooking in my brain.  I wish I was a little better at following through with them but that is a story for another day

I have had a lot of fun in January.  I have learned a lot about myself and you know what at least for today I like me.  That feels great to say.  I Like ME!
So what are your super powers?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just an ordinary box!

I am a terrible blogger. I get sidetracked and forget that I have a blog. I get super excited about projects and get started with no idea how to document them. I forget to take pictures while I am working. Anyways despite being a terrible blogger I wanted to share something that I thought was pretty cool.

It's just a box, an ordinary cardboard box. Let me tell you about this box got so cool. For the past year or so I have been teaching a Sunday school for 4-5 year olds. This means planning and hauling a bag of stuff with me. I am terrible at keeping my bags neat and organized. This inevitably leads to heavy messy bags and not being able to find anything. I was recently asked to help organize all of the activities and teachers for the children age 18mo to 11yrs, instead of teaching a Sunday School class.  I knew that this would involve my dragging even more stuff back and forth between home and church and I dreaded the thought of yet another messy bag.

And then a lightning bolt struck me. I thought I don't need another bag I need a better way of carrying my stuff. For me a box is much better than a bag it is easier to load and unload, I can see everything I have at a glance, and It doesn't fall over and spill all over the floor.

I found a sturdy box; dug out some fleece that had been destined for pajamas, before I realized I would never sew them because I hate to sew; my rotary fabric cutter and mat; white glue; an exacto knife, scissors, a stapler and wrangled my husband into doing 90% of the work helping me ( Thanks Pat :P).

Cut the flappy things off the top of the box. Lay the fleece on floor or table.  I wrote out the directions for cutting the fleece 3 different way and they all confused me so I have drawn you a handy diagram.

Set the box in the center of the fleece as shown.  Measure the height of the box and cut a square( or rectangle) of fleece that is large enough to fold over the top of each side of the box while the box is sitting in the middle.  If you see my diagram above I have partitioned of the corners and marked them as a, b, c, d.  Use your scissors or rotary cutter to cut out those corners.  Now you have a piece of fleece shaped like the Red Cross symbol.

Flip the box over and spread a fairly thick layer of white glue over the entire bottom of the box.  Flip the box back over and set it into the center of the fleece.  Flip the box ( with fleece attached) back over and use your hands the smooth the fabric over the bottom of the box.  You want to press out all of the bubbles and wrinkles.  Choose one side of the box to start on coat the side of the box in glue.  Pull the fleece up and over the top edge of the box smoothing it as you go.  You will need to pull the fleece very tight.  Put glue on the top 2 inches of the inside of the box, fold the fleece over and smooth it out.  Staple the fleece to the top of the box using 4-6 evenly space staples.  Repeat  this on the other 3 sides.  You will need to let your box dry for about 45 mins before continuing.

Cut 4 strips of fleece 2 inches wide and 2 inches long than the height of you box.  These strips are for covering the corners of the box.  Center one strip over one of the box corners and glue it down fold it over the top edge and glue it there as well.  We did not need to stale the corners because the fleece one fleece pule glue held really tight.  Repeat this until all your corners are covered.

If you are like me and you want to be able to haul you nifty new box around you will probably need handles.  For this you will need 2 24 oz pop bottles, an exacto knife and bulky weight yarn.  Measure and mark two holes about 4 inches apart on opposite sides of the box .  You will have 4 holes.  Before you use your exacto knife to cut your holes out of the box,  You will want to remove the threaded neck of the pop bottle. Pat used a serrated kitchen knife and then sanded the edge, but he reccommends using a hack saw for this if you have one.  If you trace around the inside edge of the now severed bottle necks onto your box where you want the handles you will have the right size for the handle holes.  Use the exacto knife to cut out the holes in the box.  Carefully thread the bottle necks into the holes and screw them in util they are tight against the box.  The bottle necks will help to even out the pressure put on the box and prevent your handles from tearing your box to shreds.  While Pat was struggling with bottle necks I braided the bulky weight yarn into a long braid-- My finished braid was about  1 yard long.  We cute the Braid in half and thread both sides of a braid throgh the two handle holes and tied it into a knot.  We then used scrap yarn to tie the braid together which made it a much sturdier handle.

I love my Box!!!!  It is so much easier to pack for church and easier to use while I am at church.  I have been able to be much more organized for church since making this box.  Since my "organization style" tends toward big honking piles of chaos than anything else, anything that helps me keep it orderly and contained is awesome in my book.

Link parties I may be linking to : http://thecsiproject.com/http://www.theshabbycreekcottage.com/http://www.skiptomylou.org/http://www.thegunnysack.com/,http://www.tipjunkie.com/