Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crocheted Bow Headbands

This is going to be just a quickie post.

I was super pumped a couple weeks ago when I got my biggest etsy custom order to date. Charlene, a really great customer ordered 5 crocheted bow headbands in a variety of colors. She got a few for herself and a couple for her sister. It's always cool to think that someone else in a different state is not only sporting something you made but also helping to get the word out!

I made the pattern for these about a year ago. If you are interested, just let me know. I'd be happy to share :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ava's Cupcake Hat

As soon as we found out that or next little one was going to be a girl, so many ideas came rushing in for things to make. Being that I am still heavily into crochet at the moment, I started looking for fun and easy projects. I came across lots of cute baby hats on different sites. I especially liked the cupcake hats that I found on However, I did not want to purchase a pattern.

I looked at the general parts - the frosting, toppings and base. Then I just sort of winged it on my own without a pattern. I crocheted all of the elements separately and then used yarn to stitch them all together in the end.

these were my two basic pieces.

this is the finished product with sprinkles and a cherry on top.

it was so easy, I decided to start another.

I didn't have a reference as to head size, so my only hope is that the hat fits! If not, I'm sure Ava will have some doll that can wear it eventually. ;)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grandma's Alfredo (recipe)

Last night we decided to mix up pasta night again. This time we used a recipe that my grandma told me about for an Alfredo sauce. The traditional stuff usually makes me feel pretty sick, because I have a very hard time with cream-based foods. However, some dairy is tolerable to my system in smaller doses. This sauce was no exception.

Grandma's Alfredo

1/4 butter
4 oz. cream cheese/ neufchatel
1 cup milk
3-4 oz. parmesan cheese (the shaker worked just fine)
1 tsp. garlic (I used the wet minced kind)
salt and pepper to taste (I omitted the salt)

Set burner to low heat. (I was using it at the 2-4 level).

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small sauce pan.

Whisk in the cream cheese until smooth.

Add in the garlic and stir.

Pour in the milk gradually and continue whisking.

Whisk in the parm gradually - making sure to break up all the little bits.

Add the salt and pepper. (I also added some basil flakes for flavor at this point).

Turn off burner, and remove from heat to let set for a few minutes.

After a few minutes I poured the cream over our drained rigatoni pasta.

We really liked this recipe a lot. It was simple to make, and we already had all of the ingredients on hand. I didn't know how it would sit with the milk AND the cream cheese, but there weren't any problems.

This would also be great over a side dish like broccoli or a protein like chicken. It's always nice to have another recipe in the arsenal. Thanks, Grandma!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Curtains

The other day I had noticed while cleaning that my dear, sweet husband had somehow managed to get the previous night's cheeseburger on our curtains. My best guess is that it came from the grill spatula and when he was coming in it rubbed up against them. Either way, I took them down and put them in the laundry. I didn't notice any special care instructions, so I tossed them into the dryer. After they came out literally every square inch was wrinkled. I tried 'fluffing' them in there again, and there was no change. I ironed one two foot section for about twenty minutes, and they were still as wrinkled as before.

This wasn't so horrible, because it gave me the idea to make some new curtains. We put our orange ones up when we moved in three years ago, so I was looking forward to the change. I searched the fabric and home stores online, but nothing was really jumping out at me. We had a little money, so I decided to run to Ikea and look at their selection. I ended up finding this pill-like looking fabric. It's a white background with colored half circles. At $6.99/yard I was able to get all 5 yards for under $40.

Ikea 'Edholm' fabric

curtains before: plain orange with white sheers

curtains after

I also found a great new lime green sheer at Target for $1.94

I'm really pumped with the final results. The new curtains are so fun and colorful. I also think that they mesh really well with our retro themed kitchen. I just asked Phil to please promise me that he wouldn't get and burger or any other food on these. ;)

I also actually ended up with a little extra fabric, because I opted to not to do the tabs at the curtain tops. Just this morning, our lovely dog Paisley destroyed our cute little couch pillow. Since I already had the machine out and threaded I whipped up a new one from the same fabric.

Needless to say, it was a good productive day and I'm happy that I got some sewing done again. I used to take classes downtown at the Singer factory every Monday (and had done so for almost three years). With my health and our finances I had to let them go this past December. It was a bummer, but at least I have the skills and the equipment to continue sewing at home. 

I cannot wait for spring when we repaint/ redo the living room and I get to make more custom curtains for our picture window!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Scalloped Cowl

As you may know by now, I love to crochet. Yesterday I finished my most recent project - a scalloped cowl. It was made in the round from a pattern on Lion Brand Yarn's website: ( However, I only half used it. I needed a jumping off point, and I really liked the look of the stitches from the first three rows. Instead of following all of the instructions, I just repeated rows 1-3 throughout the entire project. I also used a much thinner yarn then they recommended for a lacier effect.

The finished results do not look like the original pattern, but I am very happy with the outcome. It's a very feminine piece and can easily dress up any outfit. This cowl is also a great scarf alternative and perfect for the spring weather that is hopefully on its way!

^ close up neck view 

I do plan on adding a few to my etsy shop in some nice spring colors as quickly as I can get them done!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Love Lamb (not lamp) - recipe

This Valentine's Day was definitely our tightest ever budget wise. But honestly it has never been about gifts with us anyway. Phil had the day off work, and we got to spend it together at home which was amazing. Nonetheless, I wanted to do something special for him. I decided to make a new-to-us meal that we've never had before. We had both been really interested in trying lamb at home.

I bought some beautiful lamb loin chops from my local produce market. They basically looked like little t - bone steaks. Since I had never cooked them before I researched online various ways of cooking them. In the end, it seemed like the grill was the best way to go. There were so many variations on time and temperature for oven and stove top preparations. The result was actually quite delicious (after BOTH grillings, because it was a complete learning curve. Our chops were quite thick so we kept them on longer than the average 3 minutes per side for medium rare doneness).

lamb chop loin with basil/mint pesto, orzo and oven roasted potatoes

Here's what I did for the lamb:

Three hours before dinner I made a marinade of olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper.
Twenty minutes before cooking the lamb, I took it out and out it on the counter to come closer to room temp before grilling. We initially grilled it for 3 minutes on each side, and it was dead rare. (Like I said, these were monster chops). We re-fired them for another 3 minutes, and they were a perfect medium rare. Sometimes a little trial and error is necessary.

The pesto:

I used equal amounts of fresh basil and mint, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, a good helping of minced garlic, olive, pignolis (pine nuts), salt and pepper. I just loaded everything into the Vitamix and pulsed until I got the desired consistency. Phil used his pesto as a dipper, and I went for more of a glaze effect - as shown above. (This stuff was also delicious mixed into the potatoes and orzo). 

The potatoes:

I always roast my potatoes in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish. (It is really easy to remove them). I preheat my oven to 350. Then I chop whatever potatoes I have on hand to bite size. I throw them in a bowl and mix with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. 30 - 35 minutes in the oven is usually just right for a nice crispy outside and a tender inside. 

The orzo:

I had never cooked orzo, before but the directions for timing were right on the box. After draining it, I returned it to the pot and added butter and parsley. I stirred it for a minute to make sure everything was well incorporated. I have to say, this is my new favorite pasta. It eats like a rice but tastes like a noodle.

Even though we had a hiccup along the way, I would still call the night's romantic dinner a success. We now know that we can cook lamb at home, and we got to try some new flavors that we really enjoyed!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Feather Headbands Coming Soon...

I have decided to make some more feather headbands for my etsy shop. They were really popular before, and they are super fun to create. This time I have amped up the design too making them even bigger than before.

Each 'feather' is individually hand cut by me

I made this one for an upcoming event.

I'm hoping to have the new designs up and in my shop with in the next week if life cooperates with me. For now I still have some of the older ones listed there too. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Recipe: Lemon Pepper Farfalle

In our house we typically have pasta once a week. Most often it's some kind of noodle with red sauce and sausage, because we are carnivores and we love our Italian sausage. However, the routine is starting to get a little dull week after week. I wanted to still keep our staple easy and cheap pasta night but just with some new flavors. I didn't even have to leave the house for ingredients. I just used odds and ends we had on hand, and it was a quite successful and delicious meal!

Lemon Pepper Farfalle

You'll need:

at least 1/2 box of Farfalle (or your favorite noodles)
jarred, marinated roasted red peppers, chopped
jarred, marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
a small yellow onion (or white if you prefer), diced
a lemon - juice and zest
1/4 cup lemon juice (I used the bottled as well)
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsps olive oil
1/1/2 tbsps butter
basil to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste

I started out by getting my pasta water boiling. In the meantime I was able to prep all of my other ingredients.

I chopped my roasted red peppers and put them in a bowl.

I also chopped my artichoke hearts and put them in the same bowl with a little bit of their marinade.

To that bowl I added some lemon juice and mixed it all together.

Next, I diced my small onion and set it aside.

By this time my water was boiling, and I threw in the pasta.

I got a large pan heating up with the olive oil and then tossed in the onion and garlic for a couple minutes on their own.

Then I added in the bowl of ingredients and stirred everything around.

After zesting the lemon and squeezing in some fresh juice, I seasoned with the basil, red pepper flakes (just enough for a little kick, not blow your head off amounts) salt and pepper.

Everything sauteed for a few minutes until the past was ready to be drained. (The cook time for everything including the pasta and 'sauce' was about 12 minutes total).

After draining the pasta I poured it into the pan with everything else and added the butter.

I stirred everything around until the butter was melted and then served it up hot (topped with some parmesan cheese).

(not a wonderful picture but oh well)

I was a little nervous about what Phil would think, seeing as he loves his sausage so much (insert joke here). But he honestly was impressed and enjoyed it very much to my surprise and relief. It was definitely different than the norm and vegetarian to boot. We both completely emptied our bowls. Needless to say, I'll be making it again in the future.

Just thought I'd share in case any of you out there are looking for some different recipes. If you have any awesome homemades please feel free to share as well. We're always looking for something new.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Resurrection...perhaps

Well, as per my usual style I have let this blog go far beyond the wayside. As a girl I was never able to keep a diary for more than a couple of weeks. In school I diligently updated my planner for the first couple of weeks of school and then abandoned it altogether. So I suppose to have written pretty frequently for just over half of a year was a victory for me. Who knows, maybe this time around I will go a full 9 months...

Speaking of which...

shirt courtesy of my friend

I'm 19 weeks along at this point with my second. We are thrilled to say the least. I'm finally out of the first 15 week bed rest phase, (someday I may publish a book will all of the details, but I will spare you for now). It's just great to feel like a person again and move around and do things. I have felt especially productive the last few weeks.

Still very much unemployed for a staggering 15 months and counting, I am fortunate enough to have a trickle of freelance work coming in. Anything right now is income, and every little bit helps. One thing my 'dry spell' has shown me is just how lucky I am to have the family that I have - immediate and extended. I've never appreciated my marriage or my son so much as I have especially these past few months. We have a bond that I'm sure some can only dream of. 

With bringing a new life into the world come a plethora of thoughts (and worries). We are in no way shape or form financially stable, and that is scary. I have spent years single and married stressing out over money and debt. While I do still have my woe-is-me, errr -us- days, it isn't enough to keep me down anymore. No matter what happens to our jobs, our cars, our house...I know that at the end of the day we have each other and a love that is unconditional. (I'm sorry if this is a little too 'sappy Sally' for some, but it is the honest to God's truth).

Veering off on a different path now - all of this time has done wonders for my creativity. Though there may be a lack of professional design in my life, there is no void of constant inspiration and creation. I've never been one to be short of ideas for a barrage of projects, and luckily I have the time and materials to bring many of them to fruition. I may have had to give up my favorite Monday night sewing classes and some good friends in it, but I am fortunate enough to have that skill now. The same goes for crochet. I took one class and loved it. I crocheted lots of fingerless gloves and scares, because that's all I had the knowledge to make. Case in point:

the chunky green neck warmer,

what I call the self-contained scarf &

the fold over cowl

While there is a lot of variety to be had in linear crochet I still desperately wanted to learn in-the-round techniques. I tried lots of times to do it from looking at pictures and ended up with what looked like, for lack of a better term and I apologize in advance, penis cozies. Needless to say they were all trashed. I rented some books from the library and downloaded some tutorials and still struggled a bit, but still I kept flailing/trying...

Finally the other day I found a really cute pattern on the Lion Brand website for an amigurumi lovebird. It looked damn near impossible for my skill set, but I read on anyway. Looking through the pattern there was only one abbreviation/stitch I was not familiar with. I said what the hey and decided to give it a shot. No joke, the first time I tried to do the 'magic ring' I got it. I also learned how to legitimately decrease using sc2tog and not just 'dropping' of stitches. This may sound ridiculously meaningless to some, but it empowered me. These days if I have a reason to shower and put on clothes, it's a celebration - so picking up a new skill falls into that category as well. Here is the result of my first 'round' project, the lovebird.

If you enjoy this little guy, here is a link to the free pattern:

I now feel obsessed with all things crochet and amigurumi and have a very growing folder on my desktop of things to make.

At that, I think this has been a good start to the rebirth of the blog for now. Considering it's been about 6 months I'd say more than one paragraph is an epic leap forward. Hopefully this hasn't been to long-winded; I just felt the need to catch up a little bit. I will forewarn you that postings may seem a bit schizophrenic at times. As passionate as I am a crafter, the same goes for cooking and baking. So if one day recipes start popping up here out of seemingly nowhere, yes, it is still me. Food in my belief also gets classified as a handmade good.