Thursday, December 1, 2011

Knitting Socks and Mittens or why I wish I could feed knits to a dog

Let me explain: you know how you always give the first pancake to the dog? It never comes out right. The pan is never the right temperature and there's always too much or too little butter. Sometimes you don't have your flip down yet. It just never comes out right. That's why you always give the first one to the dog. Always. Even if you don't have a dog, you find one and you give them the dang pancake.

That's sort of what I wish I could do with the first mitten. I'm making mittens for my family for Christmas and they're coming out a little funny. I made a pair and the pattern went way too high up the fingers for my liking, but I didn't want to take the whole thing out and figure out my row count etc again since I was writing the pattern for the second as I knit the first. I ended up making two with the slightly weird pattern (they look less bad now that there are two of them). I wish I could do something with awkward knits that are supposed to have a mate so that they don't go to waste. I wish there was an equivalent of feeding it to the dog, but for knits. The beauty of feeding a pancake to the dog is that it's easy for you to eliminate your failure and the dog really appreciates your effort. Does this make sense? Does anything like this exist yet? Is there anybody out there who would take my awkwardly patterned mittens or huge socks? I really need to knit two at once, that'll either fix my problem or make everything worse.

If you have any help for me please let me know. Does anybody out there have this problem? We could team up! I'll start collecting them and turn them into something new. We'll start this now! Weird socks unite!

I hope everybody has a good December. Thanks for reading!


Friday, October 28, 2011


First of all, y'all should know I'm a BzzAgent. Being a BzzAgent is really cool. You get to try new things and tell people about them in person, on facebook, on twitter, or on a blog. You can join at bzzagent and start trying and sharing new things.

I recently got to try Smarterer. I have to say that I don't really get it. You can go there and test your knowledge of facebook, twitter and the like and prove that you're smarter(er) than your facebook using peers, I guess. Maybe it's a step forward to feeling less shame about how much time we spend with our tech. Instead of lying about how much time spent tweeting and facebooking, we embrace it and prove to our friends that even if we haven't been outside in days at least we're smarterer about facebook. Now there's another way to waste time on the internet. Sick of just browsing people statuses on facebook? Show them how much better you are at browsing than they are.


Maybe I'm just not ready to let go of my tech shame yet. I want to hang onto the guilt about how much time I really spend on my computer and not talking to real people. I'm not ready to boast about it. Feeling shame makes me feel like I haven't completely gone to the antisocial tech dark side yet.

Am I being too harsh? I also don't really like the name. It takes me back to elementary school taunts. "I'm smarter!" "Oh, yeah, well I'm smarterer infinity!"

In the interest of full disclosure, I only too the BzzAgent test. I got a little obsessed with getting my percentage into the smarterer category. I kept going back and answering more questions until I could prove I was smarterer than other BzzAgents out there. Then I took a step back and wondered why it was so important to me. I don't need to prove that I spend more time on the internet. It's not something I'm proud of.

I think I'll go read a book now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Foxy Stole

My eyePhone was a little short lived because I have a proper iPhone now. I'm using it to post this. My camera and iPod both died this weekend so this was a good solution. I've wanted an iPhone since there were iPhones. In honor of things I've been meaning to do, I bring you my fox stole.

I started it last January but didn't finish it until a couple of months ago. I was working with 5 balls of yarn so I was afraid of tangles when picking it back up but it wasn't too bad especially considering it had spent several months in a pile at the bottom of my closet. I don't have a pattern because it I made it up as I went but it was too cute not to share.

I hope you like it. If you have any questions or comments about anything please let me know.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Look! It's and eyePhone! Get it? Hahahahaha!!!! I make myself laugh. I didn't actually think of the iPhone pun until after I finished it. Sorry about the picture quality, I took it with my webcam. I simply hot glued a bunch of googly eyes to my phone. This is what happens when I'm left alone too long with a glue gun and stuff from the dollar store. Do you think this voided my warrantee? The hot glue peels off of the phone pretty easily. Do you like it? Is it cool or crazy?

I also put a couple of googly eyes on my trusty stand mixer. It makes me laugh whenever I use it. I just stuck them on with little loops of tape. I didn't want anything too permanent. I also make sure they're still there when I finish mixing something. I don't want to find an eye in a brownie.

I've got a couple of other finished knitting projects to share, but my camera died and I keep forgetting to buy batteries. The webcam pictures aren't going to cut it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Knit in knit

Warning: this project might make you want to cut holes in all of your clothes. My husband had to talk me out of it.

You will need:
An old shirt, preferably knit fabric
a circular template, I used a plate
something to write on fabric
crochet thread or maybe embroidery floss (mine was a little thick, so sewing it was a pain)
sewing needle
circular knitting needles

Turn your shirt inside out. Make sure the back of the shirt is facing you (or whatever part you want the knitting to cover).

Trace your circle. It might be good to make sure the placement is right. You could use other shapes too, but the math will be different.

Cut out your shape. Fold over the raw edge about 1/4 inch on each side. The knit stretched enough that the fold was really clean. Pin in place.

Knit a gauge swatch in stockinette. I used size 8 needles to make a loose fabric. Measure the stitches and rows/inch.

Measure the radius (distance from middle to edge) of your circle. This will tell you how many rows (rounds) to knit.

Calculate the circumference of your circle using diameter times 3.14. The diameter is 2 times the radius.
This and your gauge swatch will tell you how many stitches you need in your first round.

Subtract 2 times the height of one row of stitches from your diameter. Multiply this by 3.14 to get your next circumference. Use this to figure out how many stitches in your next round.

Continue this process until you get 0 for your diameter. Now you can figure out how many stitches to subtract each round. If your number is consistent, you can create your decreases at the same point on the circle and create sort of a pattern this way. I distributed mine randomly.

Using a whip stitch, sew the number of stitches you need for your first round around the circle. This was difficult because of the thickness of my thread so I advise using very fine crochet thread or using embroidery floss.

Turn right side out and knit once into each sewn stitch. Continue knitting following the pattern you created until you reach the middle. Draw the thread through each stitch and pull tightly. Weave in ends and wear.

I hope this made sense and also that I didn't over explain. Please comment with any comments or questions or feel free to email me. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vegetarian S'mores

S'mores are a summer staple, but marshmallows aren't exactly vegetarian friendly. Vegan marshmallows exist, but they're expensive and not always readily available. I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of this, but I use banana instead of marshmallow. Cut a piece of ripe banana that's about the size of a marshmallow. Roast it over an open flame until it gets a little toasted. Make sure it doesn't fall off the stick as it softens. Assemble the s'more as usual. The banana should smush and melt the chocolate just like a toasted marshmallow would. Now vegetarians can join in the fun too! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Strawberry Yogurt Stripe Popsicles!

I'm not the first person to make striped popsicles or strawberry yogurt ones. I just wanted to make something with the fresh strawberries that are starting to come in. I made enough for 2 popsicles, each popsicle mold holds a little more than 1/3 cup of liquid so I made about 1/3 of a cup of each mixture.

nonfat plain yogurt
vanilla extract
milk (to thin yogurt slightly)
mix all ingredients together to taste

chopped strawberries (I removed the hulls and white parts) Use a few more than you think you need.
salt and pepper (just a little to enhance the flavor)
Allow ingredients to sit together while mixing the yogurt (to allow flavors to meld and juices to flow slightly) then blend all the ingredients with a blender.

Add a spoonful of one mixture to each mold avoiding the sides of the mold and allow to set in the freezer (about 20 minutes depending on freezer temperature etc). Only the top needs to be firm. Continue alternating strawberry and yogurt each time. Insert the sticks after the last addition. The layers should still be soft enough to insert the stick easily. These would probably taste better with the strawberry and yogurt mixed, but they wouldn't be as pretty. Add blueberries too for a patriotic popsicle.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thank you!

I have followers! I can't believe it! I've been blogging sporadically for about 6 months now and I didn't know if anybody was listening. I need to thank Dollar Store Crafts for featuring my Gift Card Bag tutorial. I will try to update more frequently now that I feel encouraged. I'll write soon. I just wanted to say thanks! As always, if you have any questions, comments or requests you can email me or leave comments on posts.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shoes + Sharpies = Fabulous!

I have a thing about uniforms. I attended a uniform school in junior high. I scoured the rules for loopholes. I wore orange Converse and an orange backpack for 2 years just to stand out from the crowd. I also wore a lot of glitter eyeshadow. I took advantage of every free dress day I could. I can't stand looking like everybody else. It's sort of a complex I think. When I got to a non-uniform high school, I went crazy and dyed my hair every color of the rainbow. Anyway, I'm all kinds of off topic.

Through college I wore my own uniform of jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops. I didn't have as much time to dye my hair or curate the extensive pin collection I maintained on my bag in high school.

Then came graduation. A sea of black caps and gowns and I couldn't stand the thought of it. I didn't want to decorate my cap. That's just not my style. I haven't touched puffy paints since I was 7 and I don't plan to. My adorable black dress with green giraffes would be completely covered.  The only option left was crazy shoes.

I bought white shoes at Payless (I think they were 5 dollars on sale, and I got a purse half off that I used at my wedding the following month) and a multi pack of Sharpies at Target for a couple of bucks. Then I colored the shoes. I knew they'd look like I'd colored them, so I didn't worry about covering them really evenly. The shoes say "beautiful but not dyeable" on a sticker inside, but I showed them.

I wouldn't suggest coloring where your feet go as the color might transfer to your toes. If you find plain shoes on sale, buy them and make them yours. Or if you have old shoes you don't wear anymore, you can make them new again. Now I have shoes that go with everything and I love them. I felt fantastic walking across the stage in these. If you can't find your perfect shoes to make you stand out from the crowd, make some!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Easy Pudding Pops

I've been obsessed with popsicles lately. Make the easiest popsicles ever. I'm sure I'm not the first to do this, but I'll share. Buy pudding cups, insert sticks through foil tops, freeze solid. Then snack! Yum!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gift Card Purse

I made this one a little while ago, but it's a fun summer project. I've been saving used gift cards and things for a while now (I swear I'm not a hoarder) and I wanted to make them into a purse. I was inspired by that credit card Oscar dress. You know the one by the costume designer from Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I couldn't find a good picture, but you know how to google.

It's simple really. The hardest part is punching holes in the cards. My very kind husband helped me with that.

You will need:
gift cards (I used 18, 9 per side. You can sometimes beg them off friends or ask for used ones at stores.)
zip ties (the dollar store is a good resource)
hole punch
ribbon (I used some from a Crate and Barrel gift, I thought it tied in nicely)
old t-shirts or scrap fabric
needle and thread

The construction I used was a little complicated. You could just link the cards together and make a fun beach tote without the lining. You could even add straps from an old purse. Just don't put anything too small in there because it might slip through the cracks.

I made a lined bag attached the straps to that. Then I added some yarn to the top and attached the bags to the yarn with zip ties. Does that make any sense? I'll draw some pictures. I sewed it all by hand and it didn't take too long. You could definitely use a machine if you have one. I didn't take any in progress shots because I just wanted to finish it.

Step 1: line up your cards into the shape of one side of your finished bag. Leave a little space between the cards. Measure the length and width.
Step 2: Cut out 4 pieces of fabric a little larger than the cards on all sides. About 1/4 inch on each side. 

Step 3: Make inner lining. Sew two pieces together with right sides together as shown. This will be the inside lining of the bag (the part you'll see when you open your bag). The lining and shell should end up just a little smaller than the length and width of the measured cards so they'll fit easily inside. The lining should be a little smaller than the shell. 

Step 4: Make shell. Sew the last two pieces together with right sides together. Place a doubled piece of yarn between the pieces near the top (but below where the fold of the hem will be) and sew the ends of the yarn into place. This will be used to attach the cards later. 

Step 5: Fold the hem down on the inside lining. Keep right sides together. Turn the outer lining inside out and fold hem in. Ironing can help this step. Tack the yarn in place along the top. Be sure not to sew the sides together. Make sure there will still be room to attach the cards. 

Step 6: Place the lining (green here) inside the shell (yellow here). Try to align the hems at the top. Tweak if necessary. Place ribbons between the inside and outside lining to sew in place when hemming. I sewed the ribbon to the shell before this step to keep it really strong. Make sure the ribbon isn't twisted. Sew around the top to secure lining to shell and ribbon to bag. Sew as close to the top as possible. 

Step 7: Attach cards to each other. Punch holes in each corner of every card. I used zip ties to attach them, but ribbon or strong yarn should work too. I made two sheets of 9 and attached the edges once they were on the bag. I don't think it really matters. Make sure not to attach too tightly. It should be flexible. 

Step 8: Attach the cards to the bag using zip ties (or ribbon or yarn) to attach cards to the yarn at the top. Attach each side of the cards to the other. The bag should look something like this. 

Step 9: I added a little velcro to the insides to close. Other closures could work too. 

I hope these directions were clear. If you have any questions leave a comment or send me an email. Have fun! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cheese Party

Yesterday we had some friends over for a low key cheese party. We bought all the cheese at our local super market. I posted a while back about making a good cheese plate, so here I'll give a specific list of what we served yesterday. It all went over really well with experienced and inexperienced cheese nibblers alike. I brought the cheese and our friends brought the accompaniments. It was fun to do that blind, but we both bought things that would go with a good variety of flavors, so no problem. I just unwrapped the cheeses and put them on a big platter with some butter knives. I put them in approximate order from mildest to strongest. I'll list them in this order.

Brie (a French one that was on sale, but I forgot the name)
Manchego (Spanish sheep's milk cheese. We found it in a case in another part of the store on sale, so that was a lucky find)
Old Amsterdam (cow's milk gouda)
Chevre with herbs (yeah, there should be an accent in there somewhere. Simple goat cheese, but the herbs make it seem fancy)
Gorgonzola (classic blue cheese. It's not too strong usually, so it's good for novices)

Served with:
A fancy cracker multipack
Herb flatbread crackers (I forgot the brand)
Strawberries (to be honest, not my first choice for a cheese plate, but it was amazing. They go with everything, even the blue)
Honey (amazing on blue cheese, but try it on anything you want)
Half and Half iced tea lemonade (Our friends don't drink, and this was a nice accompaniment. Sparkling juices would probably be great too)

We've got a lot of cheese leftover. I'll have to make something with it all. It's pretty easy to throw a fancy cheese party without breaking the bank. Look for sales. Keep the guest list small. If it's only another couple or two and they offer to bring things, let them.

If you have any suggestions post them here or email me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chess Set!

I'm sitting at home listing to the soothing womb sounds of my dish washer. I'm drinking some coffee and feeling very tranquil. Who's up for a contemplative game of chess? No? What if I show you my homemade chess set? You curious?
Can you make it out? It's a Star Wars vs. Harry Potter Lego chess set. Some of those things should probably be italicized or quoted or something, but I don't know which. Anyway, I'll show you some more pictures. 

Here's a blurry shot of the Harry Potter team. The pawns are all animals.
Here's the Star Wars side. Don't mind Socrates in the background.

We had to buy a lot of different sets to get all the characters. It was a fun process. We also got to go up to our nearest Lego store and explore a huge mall in the process. I had to order a couple online too. It was well worth it.

What game should I make next? I was thinking Lego Clue. That would probably be fun.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Menu Planning

I used to think nobody really planned menus the way they do in cooking shows made for moms. They say to use your leftover roast chicken in simple fajitas later in the week. Reuse your sauteed veggies in a pot pie with more of that chicken. I didn't do much cooking when I was watching the most cooking shows, and I didn't really see evidence of this. However, right now I'm contemplating making fried rice tomorrow so I can use leftover rice from tonight's burritos. I'm trying to think of what I'll do with leftover beans and tortillas. More burritos probably.

I never had to cook much until I got married. I ate snacks at school, ate out with friends, or ate at home with my parents. I cooked, but I didn't have to cook every night for a week. I'm also a vegetarian, which I think made for more problems. I can't roast a chicken at the beginning of the week and then use it for fajitas and pot pie. We were in a pretty severe pasta rut for a while. We'd eat pasta sometimes twice a week not to mention leftovers for lunches. When we didn't eat pasta, it would be rice or stir fry. Instead of basing a meal on a protein, I was basing it on grain. My husband doesn't love polenta or couscous, so I felt a little limited. Then I tried basing dinner on a veggie, which I still try to do, but it's difficult if you haven't worked with some veggies before. Can a bell pepper be the star of the show? What else can you do with eggplant? I was still stuck. Then I invented the "dinner box."

The dinner box is an oracle. It predicts that week's dinners and keeps me from going to the store every night. I wrote down every dinner idea I could think of on little strips of paper. I put these strips of paper in an origami box. Every shopping day I pull out 4 or 5 ideas and make my shopping list. Now we eat a good variety of things and I don't have to strain my brain to figure it out. Then we have leftovers once in a while, or we go shopping every 5 days. Or my husband is away and I fend for myself. I suggest you try it for yourself if menu planning drives you crazy. Browse cookbooks for ideas or ask me! I've got about 30 and they're not all veggie centric.

Happy cooking,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Make ahead Sangria with Sangria Cubes!

I'm an insane person when it comes to planning ahead. I took my husband on a surprise picnic recently. I cooked and prepped in secret while he was at work and stashed the food in the fridge. I'm lucky we never use the veggie drawers. If I put veggies in them, I forget they're there and they go bad. It's sad.

frozen fruit rainbow

Anyway... I wanted to make a few things more than a day ahead. The day before I made shortbread, caramelized onions, and focaccia dough, I didn't want to spend all day chopping fruit too. So two days before the picnic I chopped up the fruit for the sangria. The problem with cutting fruit ahead of time is that it gets brown, of course. I was using apples and pears too which do not stand up well to storage when cut. I popped my chopped fruit into and ice cube tray, covered them with fresh citrus juice, and froze them until the next day. This worked perfectly! Freezing helped break down the fruit and make it softer and I didn't have to chop up fruit on my really busy prep day.

I think this technique would work well if making sangria for a summer bbq or any sangria occasion really. I would still combine it all the day before to let the flavors really meld. I just popped out the cubes, added wine and sugar and let it sit in the fridge for a day. Yum! I find chopping fruit really tedious and I like getting as much tedious stuff out of the way early when event planning. I get too spazzy to do tedious things when I'm really pressed for time. I hope you liked this trick. Let me know what you think.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chair transformation

I turned this:

into this: 

Do you love the cute little owl print? It took 4.5 coats of primer to get it white. I was dealing with a very thirsty chair. Do you like it? Are you inspired? I bet there's a Goodwill chair just waiting for you to reupholster it. 

Stay tuned to see what I do with this: 

Happy refurbishing,

I'm Back... again

Hi y'all out there in blog land. I stepped away from the blog for a while. I had some trouble with my camera and some other excuses. I wasn't really making anything that I considered blog caliber.

I think I found my true calling: refurbishing furniture! I bought a cheap chair at Goodwill and I'm in the midst of painting and reupholstering the seat. I also bought an old sewing machine and table at a flea market. I think it might be from the 40s, but I won't be surprised if I'm wrong. Before and afters to come soon, unless I totally drop the bloggy ball again.

See you soon,

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Exercise and cookies!

I finally found exercise motivation! I've always been pretty skinny, but I've never really had to exercise. I try to watch my diet and I've been a vegetarian for ages, so I guess that helps a little. I gained some weight my senior year of high school when I stopped taking PE and I didn't eat well, but then I got to college and lost it. Since then I've been working, running around, carrying books and a big backpack around, and climbing a lot of stairs. I was also on sort of a forced diet while in college. I didn't have much money or time, so I replaced quite a few meals with granola bars or a small salad. Anyway, that's why I've never needed to exercise. Then I got married, graduated, moved, and joined the ranks of the unemployed. So now I sit in my apartment at my computer. I do clean and play wii games, but that's not enough. I do most of the cooking and we rarely eat out, and I don't really want to change the way I eat, so I need to exercise. I know it's good for me and will potentially give me a better body, but that's never motivated me, especially now that I live in the cold, dreary pacific northwest rather than SoCal so I don't really feel the need to get my bikini body back (not that I ever really did). So what motivated me? All of my clothes are starting to get a little tight, and I love all my clothes. The thought of buying a whole new wardrobe (not to mention how much money that would cost) has convinced me to exercise. We'll see how long this motivation lasts, but that's all I have for now.

In other news, I just made cookies! (remember what I said about not changing the way I eat) I just made the basic recipe on the bag of chocolate chips, you know the one. But we really don't need a whole big batch of cookies sitting around tempting us. I also didn't want to make half a batch because then there would be half a bag of chocolate chips calling my name, and that's no good. Instead I baked up one sheet and tossed the rest in the freezer. Here's where the good idea comes in. I lined a container with plastic wrap and spooned 4 dollops in just like I did on the cookie sheet. I made sure they weren't touching. Then I put on more plastic wrap and spooned more cookies in. I did this until I was out of dough. It took as long to do this as it took to bake the cookies. Kismet! Then I wrote the baking instructions (and the date for the unlikely scenario that we forget about them) on an index card and tossed it in with the cookies (on top of a final layer of plastic wrap). That way I can bake up as many or as few as I want later without the hassle of cutting through a hard frozen tube of cookie dough. I know it's not a new idea, but I hope it's helpful.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crafting and Hoarding

There seems to be a link between crafters and hoarders. To craft, do you need to hoard? I like to think that I'm not a hoarder, but maybe I'm in denial. I have a box of yarn and a drawer of knitting supplies, but I'm not saving toilet paper rolls and plastic bottles for a rainy day. Does my extensive yarn stash make me a hoarder? I'd classify myself as more of a knitter than a crafter anyway. But I see things all the time and think "I could do something with that" but I don't save it. The only times I save things that are ostensibly garbage or recyclables are when I have a project in mind, but even then the thought of saving every tp roll makes me shy away from certain crafts. Maybe I need an impartial third party to investigate my yarn box  to determine if I'm a craft hoarder or just an innocent knitter with a totally harmless yarn stash. I try not to buy yarn without a project in mind either, but I do tend to over buy yarn so most of my stash is leftovers. I've also been given some yarn over the years and won a couple of other skeins here and there, so that's my excuse. I'm going to stop writing now because it's starting to sound more and more like hoarding denial. What do you think? Do you hoard to craft or craft to hoard? Can you craft without hoarding? Am I just in hoarding denial?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BzzAgent CoverGirl Campaign

Hi All,

I've been a BzzAgent for a couple of months now. It's a website that allows you to participate in campaigns and learn about products then spread your opinions of them. It took me a while to get going, but now I'm participating in a CoverGirl Campaign that sounds really cool. I don't wear much makeup, but when I do it's CoverGirl! I chose it for my wedding because the Outlast Lipstain sounded perfect. It looked natural and allowed my husband to kiss the bride without worrying about staining his lips or smudging mine. You too can get into the action over on Facebook. Or join BuzzAgent for a chance to join other cool campaigns.
My CoverGirl wedding makeup!

In regular blog news: I just finished a sweater for my brother, so I'll post pictures once it's blocked. I'm also working on a faux fox stole. It's really cute so far, but I'm making it without a pattern and going more by feel. I'll probably post pictures once it's done. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm back!

We spent Christmas and New Year's in California with our parents. I totally dropped the blogging ball, not to mention the ball on my brother's sweater. He'll be visiting us in about 2 weeks and I still have most of a sleeve and everything above the armpits to finish. Can I do it all in 2 weeks? How do you get motivated to pick up your knitting again? What do you do while knitting? I keep checking my computer, which isn't helping. I sometimes watch movies on my computer so I can't use it. What else should I do? What helps?