Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Here is the blog where I show off the gifts I made for Christmas. And, as it turns out, all of those gifts are scarves. Impressed? *rolling eyes*
I was quite disappointed at the gifts I gave this holiday. I wanted them to be amazingly creative, they weren't.
I didn't take picture of the hand-made gifts I gave my husband (scarf, of course; and a pair of gloves, which I am quite proud of...they were a lot easier than I thought they'd be.)

First up, the first scarf I made. It's a quilted scarf (inspired from here) made from some thrifted fabric and some scraps that I had. I made it for my mom and adding a decorative flowery stitch.

Jill's scarf. All of the fabric I had on hand, I actually made her a bag (that I gave to her for her birthday in July, but she asked me to change the snap and I have yet to do it, and therefore it is still sitting in my sewing area) out of the cherry and black polka dot fabric. The red polka dot fabric I bought to do a self-portrait awhile ago. It is Joann brand and it is stiff and uncomfortable. I don't like Joann brand fabric. It all seems that way.

Jo Anna' scarf. I didn't have any fabric that I thought would suit Jo Anna, so I went out and bought some cat fabric and some rainbow stripe fabric. I like it. I also employed fibonacci numbers for the fabric stip sizes.
Both my sisters separately told me that they scarves look like priest stoles. Great. Here is a demonstration:
Oh, and a picture of my Dad's scarf. Simple seed stitch knit project. No picture of him wearing it, since, as of my last visit on Sunday, it is still sitting on the end table in their living room.

PS I promise to take better, more thoughtful blog pictures.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cookie Exchange.

I hosted a cookie exchange on Friday night. I know, the smartest thing to do just after starting Weight Watchers (again.) But, I did, and I'm glad because it was fun. I learned about some things that I just didn't need to: something that involves a glass inserted into an area of the body...I'm just gonna leave it at that, and that the I am a very lucky lady to have wonderful, talented friends and family, a kick-ass husband, and an amazingly, well-behaved little girl.
I made two drinks. One looked pretty, but was not too good. One that was just beige, but was quite delicious.
Drink #1:
Pecan Pie Martini (sounds good, right?)
Firstly, I have to say that I abhor Rachael Ray. This is one of her "recipes." Seriously, Rachael, did you even *try* this recipe? Really? Did you? Because, if you did, (and I'm not gonna blame her fully because I should've thought of it too, but then again I don't get paid gazillions of dollars for thinking up stupid abbreviations and grinning like the joker) but, the corn syrup solidified in the shaker with the ice and vodka. Duh. Corn syrup + ice = clogged shaker holes. Could barely get the drinks out. I didn't even make one for myself because based on my guests reactions, it hardly seemed worth the effort. On the plus side, the rim
was tasty: corn syrup, toasted pecans, and brown sugar. (Oh, and in my defense, I was perusing my sister's Rachael Ray mag when I saw the recipe...I didn't go hunting for it. I think it hunted me down.)

The next drink, I will give the credit to Rachael, or one of her drunken interns: Oatmeal Cookie Crusher. Delicious! (Not delish or yummo, thankyouverymuch!)
Again, not much to look at, but quite tasty. This isn't a drink for a hardcore drinker, really. It's too sweet, but that's fine with me because I like sweet girly drinks. There. I confess. But, I also love me an extra dirty martini with three olives, so go figure.

Now, onto the cookies. It was a COOKIE EXCHANGE, afterall.
I, in an attempt at watching my points, made three cookies from Cooking Light:
1. Double-chocolate biscotti (good, but could've been better by adding some orange zest, or dried cherries and/or cranberries)
2. Swedish Almond-Cardamom Stars (eh, won't make again. I don't know why I insist on making cut-out cookies. I hate the process.) Plus, I don't know what makes them "Swedish."
3. Chai shortbread. (Will make again, but will increase all spices about 75%-100%) Not spicy enough for me. I didn't get a chai feel.
I have pictures of these cookies, but am not going to upload them right now because I just realized I've spent too much time on the computer and I need to get moving. Instead, I will leave you with just a few photos from the delicious creations my friends and family made:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Dining Room.

This is why I am excited to have my little craft closet completed! My dining room is a total mess/catch-all for all my holiday creating endeavors.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The other day in Wal-Mart (yeah, I was in Wal-Mart...every time I'm in there, I swear it's the last time. It's dirty and crowded and crappy, but damn! the stuff is cheap!) Where was I?

Oh yeah, the other day in Wal-Mart me & my sister saw a cute little felt gift bag with the word "coal" on it. I think it was $4 or $5. Really? C'mon, Wal-Mart! That's just insanity. Anyhow, Jill (my sister) liked it and I told her I could make one. And, unlike most things I tell Jill I'll make for her, I actually made this! And, it was the first thing I just kinda "whipped up" from nothing. No pattern, just my basic knowledge of how to put a bag together. I was proud. It looks cute too. I'm a bit bummed that the letters are script font, but it's all I had. I think it would look a lot better with another font. Next time...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Stockings Were Hung...

Awhile back McCall's was offering free patterns. Of course, all you had to do was pay shipping. Not too bad. Got a pattern for Christmas stockings. Finally broke that bad boy out the other day.

I adjusted the pattern a bit. Since all I have is your basic cotton fabric and the pattern calls for felt or home decor fabric, I made a lining out of thick muslin and added some interfacing for added sturdiness. Both of the decorative fabrics (the actual stocking and the cuff) are both fat quarters. I then ironed on some letters. (I know, they're not straight.) Oh, and let's pretend the photo is in focus too.

I really like this project for two reasons: one it makes me feel all Christmas-y and two (and the main reason) it's simple and quick...even with my added steps.

As an aside, I cross-stitched the stocking to the left 3 years ago for Joe. I finished it 2 days before Abby was born.

In closing, if you are a friend of mine and have decided to procreate or adopt (*wink wink* Amber), odds are your offspring will be receiving a Christmas stocking.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some one call the vet!

What's the best way to get your Christmas knitting and sewing done? Don't ask me.

Ya know, Christmas is only, what?, 23 days away and I'm still not finished the majority of the gifts I need to make. (Not stressing, though. Really.) So, instead of doing a simple knitting project which could probably be done in a day or two (I'm assuming this is why I keep pushing it off; because it's kind of boring and not too time consuming, so it'll get done. I hope.) I decided to start a quilt square. I say that as if I have any knowledge of quilting. I don't. I just have lots of fabric scraps and a desire to piece them together. I borrowed this book from my dad. Lots of cool things. Looking through it, I got excited and inspired.

So, would I start with a simple, basic square? Something like triangles, or country corners? Of course not! I go straight to the cat square, which is what attracted me to the book in the first place.

Poor kitty. He's got a shrunken head and a fractured tail.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Few Food-Related Items.

I have had a basic craving. A simpl, broth-based noodle soup.
This filled the bill.

Cubed tofu, egg noodles, veggie broth, carrots, celery, spinach, dash of soy sauce. Very good.

Thanksgiving: wonderful day, great friends, delicious food [Quorn roast, sweet potato casserole (made with a walnut/brown sugar crunchy crust, not the marshmallows. Blech.), mushroom stuffing, green bean casserole, orange-cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie.) The End.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Want Something Good for Dinner.

The title of today's blog is courtesy of my husband. During our daily afternoon phone conversations, there's almost a sense of foreboding as I await the question: "What's for dinner?"
The conversation, I'm sure, is similar in most households:

Him: What's for dinner?
Me: I don't know, what do you want?
Him: Something good.

*sigh* I want something good too, but sometimes I just don't feel like making it.

Yesterday I made black bean soup. He wanted a sandwich, which then evolved into a quesadilla as an accompaniment. So, that's what he had for dinner. Black bean soup and a cheddar and onion quesadilla. I, on the other hand wanted cornbread. So, I made cornbread adapted from a few recipes and black bean soup. (I'm not mentioning the disgusting quesadilla I made for myself...I shouldn't even call it a quesadilla, it was melted cheddar in between 2 tortillas.)

And so, that was something good.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mitered Squares. Part Two.

Last night I laid out all the mitered squares I've been working on. I was so sure that I was close to having a decent-sized afghan for Abby. (Could it possibly be done for Christmas?) Heh. Not even damn close. I think this will be her 16th birthday. Seriously.
Please no comments about all the ends that need to be weaved in. (ETA: Is "weaved" a word?!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Delusions of Granduer.

Back in August I purchased a 5 subject note book. I gave each section a purpose:
  1. Gifts to make for Abby
  2. Gifts for Abby to make for family
  3. Gifts to make for Joe
  4. Gifts to make for family
  5. Gifts to make for friends.
I dutifully and methodically (me? obsessive-compulsive? no way!) wrote notes, made sketches, scratched down websites, and clipped patterns that are stashed between the pages. It is now the middle of November and that notebook has been untouched since September. I've only completed and/or am currently working on a few things from my master plan of Christmas gifts:
  1. Felted slippers for Abby (although, I want to add some embroidery to them)
  2. Currently working on a nightgown for Abby in my sewing class
  3. Completed one thing for one sister that wasn't even on the list
  4. Sort of finished something for my mom (seen in photo)

Blah. Abby and I attempted to make a Christmas gift for her grandparents; a paper mache bowl. We made the pulp and the glue and molded the mixture over another bowl at which point Abby announced, "Please wash my hands, this is too much fun for me." *sigh* Anyhow, I finished the bowl and impatiently waited for it to dry so we could paint it. Four days later, it was still wet and sprouting mold.
The purpose of this post is not to make myself feel rushed for some projects, or guilty for giving up on others; (although, that was achieved) but to explain my lack of posting. The things I've been working on are gifts and therefore, not to be posted until after the recipient has both opened and feigned interest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Peak of Autumn.

Every Sunday me and Abby spend the day at my parents' house. Abby really loves it there and she has a blast playing in their huge backyard. They have a swing set and a playhouse just for her.
She enjoys digging in the garden and claims she wants to be a farmer.
This past Sunday was no exception. It was crisp and chilly and her little hands were red and cold (mental note to make mittens), but she didn't care. As she was bundled in a hat and scarf that I made for her, she was digging in dirt singing a song that included words, "Abby is a farmer."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Whole Lotta Bakin' Going On.

Yeah. Roll yours eyes at the title. I already did.
My birthday was Friday. I made myself green tea cupcakes with the matcha I bought a week or so ago. I got the recipe here. The cupcakes are sooo good.
The green tea flavor in the frosting is perfect, but the cupcake flavor is a bit too subtle for me. Next time, I think I'll just use my usual white cupcake recipe and add the matcha. I'll do the same with the frosting: just use my usual butter cream recipe and add matcha to that. I've also made myself some green tea latte, well, as much as a latte you can make without an espresso maker to steam the milk.
I also made an apple pie since I wasn't sure how well the cupcakes would go over. The pie was pretty good, the crust was uncooperative and I really didn't feel like fixing it, so I just pieced it together in the pie plate. No one noticed, or cared, really. I used up the apples from our apple picking last Friday.

Yesterday me and Abby made iced pumpkin cookies inspired by this blog. (I didn't use that much cream cheese.) They were very good and I'm glad I left them at my parents' house.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How ya like them apples?

Made applesauce the other day.
Very easy and so much better than anything purchased in a store.

I cut 6 peeled and cored apples in half and placed them in a casserole dish with a few tablespoons of water and several dashes of cinnamon.

Microwaved for 12 minutes (2 minutes per apple). Let them cool a little and mushed them in a food mill (borrowed from my sister) with the coarse grater.

Ridiculously simple. Ridiculously delicious.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Apple Overload.

We went to Linvilla Orchards on Friday. We all had a lot of fun. We saw animals, rode a train, picked out pumpkins and went apple picking.
I spent about $25 on apples. There were hardly any apples left, but we found two or three trees that had a decent amount of fruit. The only apples available to pick were red delicious. I think they are my least favorite apples, but what can ya do? (FYI... honeycrisp apples are my new favorite. They are tart and sweet and crisp and wonderful.)
When we came home, I adapted a recipe and made a sort of apple cobbler. Eh. Not impressive and therefore, not picture worthy.
This morning I made German Apple Pancakes. It was Cooking Light's August 2008 cover recipe.
This was easy, but not quick. It was good, but not a "go out and get the ingredients" recipe. Although really, it's one of those recipes that has basic pantry ingredients anyhow. That's always a bonus.
OK, wait, I'm lying. I didn't have egg substitute, so I substituted the substitute by using *gasp* three real eggs mixed with water.
It was good, but not great. It tasted too egg-y for me. Maybe that's due to the amount of eggs. Maybe it's just that way. I don't know. Either way, it wasn't really a good use of the excess of apples I have since it only used about one and a half apples. I think I'm going to make applesauce today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mac & Cheese.

Today was such a perfect autumn day. Chilly, windy, and sunny. The trees were shedding their leaves in droves. I so enjoy driving through the park in the downpour of autumn leaves.
The weather completely inspired my dinner menu; plus I knew that my husband would be craving something warm and comforting since he has a cold (and no blood.)
I found this recipe from Cooking Light. I decided to alter it. A lot. I replaced the gorgonzola with goat cheese. I replaced the mozzarella with 1% sharp cheddar. Skipped the bay leaf and added paprika. Served with stewed tomatoes, of course! It was very delicious. A perfect meal autumnal meal. I also made some vegetarian minestrone (a photo from last year here.) inspired by this soup. I used vegetable broth instead of water, and used about 8 cups of it since I more than doubled the recipe's vegetables. I added celery and cabbage too. Very tasty. Cannot wait for tomorrow' lunch (soup) and tomorrow's after work dinner (mac & cheese and more soup).

Pumpkin Cupcakes.

I wanted my house to smell good. Nice and fally. Ya know, cinnamon-y. So, instead of lighting a candle, I decided to do it the real way. The way that helps you maintain your way above average weight. I baked. (Plus, I had a lot of cream cheese left over from my baking for my sister's housewarming.)

I adapted a recipe from my Philadelphia cream cheese cookbooks. This recipe was supposed to be some sort of pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting. I just made cupcakes. I didn't have enough nuts, so I used half nuts, and some raisins. It made 24 cupcakes. And the frosting? Divine. Or evil. Depends on how you look at it. Cream cheese, butter, 10x, and cinnamon. (view the photo large so you can see the little specks of cinnamon.) So delicious. I knew they were really good when my normally self-controlled-around-sweets husband had two at a sitting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Apologies for the pun, but really, what's a blog without puns?
So, I completed my first pair of socks. I feel so accomplished on the dpns (double-pointed needles) that I can't believe I had such a difficult time with them before. I'm wondering if the main reason is because the needles I was using were aluminum and therefore slippery. I love the texture of the bamboo and the ease at which they work. Since knitting is so tactile, I think bamboo needles are worth the extra money, plus they make such a nice sound when they click against each other.

Back to the socks. They are for Abby, because, well, let's face it, it's more fun to make things for little people because:
  • the projects go quicker (more opportunities for a sense of accomplishment)
  • little things are cute, and
  • little people are genuinely appreciative
I really like these socks because I love the colors of the self-striping yarn. And yes, I am currently making a pair for myself. Don't be jealous.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You're a Mormon, Charlie Brown.

Abby has a recent addiction to "Peanuts." We've watched the Halloween one; a classic (I got a rock), but I've seen it so many times recently, that I'm not sure I like it anymore. On the same DVD as the Halloween episode is, "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown." I think that says it all.
We've watched the Thanksgiving one: kind of weird, Abby calls Peppermint Patty "he." (But, who can blame her, really? I mean, after all, Marcy does call her "sir.")
We've seen the Mayflower one: this one is so bizarre, and, I imagine, like some weird acid trip that involves overly friendly, English speaking Native Americans, sick and dying children, and over zealous pilgrims anxious to share the land with and work it with its original inhabitants.
Oh, and of course the Christmas ones. The good one and the one that has no plot and sucks.

Anyhow, because of the recent rise in "Peanuts" in our house, when we saw the autumn Peanuts fabric, I knew we needed to buy it and make her a skirt with it pronto. So, I made her an a-line skirt with a bias-tape hem. I figured since it was for fall, I should make it a bit longer. Then I remembered that I had a yellow t-shirt that I had purchased with the intention of screenprinting something, but never got around to, so I sewed a snoopy on the front (more than slightly askew, so really, it looks like I did it on purpose and not by accident.) I also did some decorative stitches on the arms and collar; I ripped off the original collar because it was so thick.

What did I end up with? An extra large, shapeless outfit (hence the Mormon reference) that she couldn't wait to wear. I'm glad she likes it, but really, it's quite ridiculous.