Sunday, February 26, 2012

Something Different

My recent little embroidery project has left me with a taste for something different.  It was so fun, and so fast and so different from what I'm used to -- and it sparked the creativity I felt I've been lacking for weeks.  I stumbled upon a few interesting embroidery patterns (thanks, Pinterest?) and high-tailed it to Joann's over the weekend.

I dug into this pattern today -- a slice of my family tree.  I'd seen the custom screen print from this Etsy shop in Better Homes & Gardens magazine months ago, and when I saw the same embroidery pattern on Pinterest I recognized it right away.  What a great idea!

Pinned Image

But I'm really excited to dig into this design:

Pinned Image

It'll let me try lots of different stitches (most of which I haven't executed yet, but I've read about in Stitch-opedia) and pick and choose what types of stitches will go where.  That's where I find creativity in working on someone else's pattern or idea.

With some new embroidery thread in my collection, I'm suddenly getting all kinds of original cute home decor ideas (yay, my creativity is back!).  I even found some interesting fabrics to try embroidering on while sorting through my closet to donate the clothes I no longer wear. 

We're planning a bedroom makeover in 2013, and my gears are already turning.  I can't wait to share my ideas.  With 2013 seeming so far off -- and still so much to accomplish in 2012 -- who knows when this will be.  Stay tuned, I guess!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pinned It, Did It! #1

Inspired by Allison at Little Lovelies, I'm starting a series of posts where I share crafts or recipes I've pinned and actually done.  (Thanks, Allison!).  Ever since I'd joined Pinterest I hadn't actually made anything I'd pinned -- or if I did, I just can't remember.  And if you read my last post, you know how badly I'd been neglecting my Pinterest account. But now that that's all straightened out, I'm happy to share my first Pinned It, Did It!

My thanks again go to Allison for this really great embroidery handprint keepsake tutorial.  Is this not the cutest thing you can make to remember your child's cute little hand?  I can't wait to hang it.

I love using coordinating fabrics.  I bought both of these at JoAnn's from the Lisette line.  I'm sorry for not knowing the exact name of each.

This break from knitting to make a project that's fast and rewarding and just different from what I'm used to doing was so refreshing.  I can't wait to complete another pin -- last night I began making my first doll ever (pin).  But if you follow on my Facebook page you already knew that... right?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pinterest Love

Unlike everyone else on planet Earth (or so it seems), I've been neglecting my Pinterest account pretty much since I joined.  And pretty severely. 

But over the past few days I've caught up on pinning some good ideas I've found on the 'net and even added a few new pinboards: toddler crafts & activities, sewing projects, embroidery projects, homesteading and gardening

I "hear" people saying (on Facebook, mind you) how addictive Pinterest is, and I'm still not sure if I get it.  I literally use it like a pinboard -- I pin the projects and ideas I want to come back to and then I move on.  Like organized bookmarks.  But I suspect that I've been using it incorrectly -- I think I'm supposed to be compulsively perusing other pins on Pinterest and stalking all my friends' pins.  How about that?

So today I did some perusing and stalking and now I feel like I've been appropriately Pinterestized.  Have you?

Follow Me on Pinterest

Friday, February 17, 2012

Quick Stash-busting Challenge Update

I hope everyone who joined the 2012 Stash-busting Challenge is enjoying working their way through their stashes.... I am!  I just wanted to pop in with a quick update:  I'm happy to announce that 28 people have joined the challenge so far! 

If you're interested in joining in, there's still time -- the year's still young! Go here for more info and to sign up and grab the nifty challenge graphic.  In case you missed it, I posted an update and link-up not too long ago.

I think the most fun part about only working from my stash is rediscovering the yarn I already have and being surprised by how great the colors are -- I must have forgotten! -- and how much of it there is.  Yeah.  And, of course, the need to be super-creative about what I make and how I make it. 

Most of my stash is in the form of leftovers, so that means lots of time spent on Ravelry finagling patterns to meet the needs of my stash and swatching up a storm to see they work out.  It also means many smaller projects -- and lots of stripes on the bigger ones.  I love stripes, but don't love weaving in ends.  Hrm.

I just finished the secret project I soft of wrote about in this week's Yarn Along post (well, I wrote about the yarn, at least).  Now what to do with the leftover beautiful yellow wool?  Perhaps another secret.

I spent a bit of time this week adding to my Ravelry queue and updating my completed projects.  I admit that in weak moments I've queued up a bunch of things that I can't actually make this year from my stash, but that's okay -- I'll just make them next year.  Or when I run out of stash this year.  If that's even possible.

Happy knitting, my friends!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yarn Along

Last weekend I broke out my yarn swift for the first time and wound a ball of wool for a secret project.  So clearly I can't say much about the knitting, but I can show off the luxurious yarn.

It's worsted weight wool I had in my stash from Brambleberry Yarns and it's been dyed with goldenrod.  The color is called Sunshine and it's an intoxicating shade of yellow that seems to change in the light in ways I've never seen yarn colors change before.  Sometimes it's really warm and buttery, and other times it's cool and lemony, and other times it's shades in between.  Each one is lovely, and the yarn is knitting up so beautifully that I can't wait to see this garment on the recipient.  You'll get a more complete view of the finished object someday.

Tonight I hope to cast on a butternut squash for Nathan's kitchen set.  The apple and pear I knitted him recently are so sweet, and he actually plays with them -- a first for a knitted object.  Even if he didn't play with them, I like looking at them in his kitchen set from across the room so much that I'd still enjoy them immensely.  I can't wait to get started!  All three free patterns are from Linda at Natural Suburbia

I don't think I ever shared my pear finished object report.  The pattern is fun to work, easy to execute and knits up fast -- it was a real joy to knit and I highly recommend it!  The apple was fun, too, but for some reason the pear was slightly more fun.  Maybe it's because of its fun, really cute shape.  (You can see the apple in my 2012 Stash-busting Challenge graphic at the bottom of this post.)  All are great stash-busters.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Easy Chicken Soup

It's been a long time since I've posted a recipe, and what better time to write about chicken soup than cold and flu season.  Both Nathan and T.J. came down with colds this weekend, and that's the only time I ever make this easy chicken soup.  And when I say easy, I mean e-a-s-y.  Onion, carrots, celery, two chicken breasts, thin noodles and a packet of soup starter.

Now, before you dog me on the packaged ingredient for this meal, know this: I've never boiled my own chicken carcass to make stock because I don't have the time and I just don't have the time. Plus, Mrs. Grass has already done the hard work for me.  Her base tastes really good, especially when I bulk it up with veggies, chicken, more noodles and some butter and olive oil.

Also know this: I serve it with homemade buttermilk biscuits. You might think it's rather demented to make soup from a packet and bake my own biscuits form scratch.  But they only take 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to bake, so they're easy to throw together while the soup simmers away on the stovetop.  I use Alton Brown's recipe for Southern Biscuits.

I estimate that the whole meal takes under 45 minutes to make.

Here goes:

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 onion
4 carrots
3-4 stalks celery
2 chicken breasts
1 packet Wyler's Mrs. Grass Homestyle CHicken Noodle Soup mix
thin noodles  
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt 1T butter and warm 1T olive oil.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add diced onion and sliced carrots and celery. Cook 10-15 minutes until beginning to turn tender. While veggies cook, cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Note: I cut my chicken when it's only partially thawed; it's so much easier to cut this way.
  • Add remaining 1T butter and 1T olive oil to pan and then add chicken. Cook until chicken is done.
  • Add 8 cups of water and the soup packet.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook your thin noodles as per package instructions.
  • Combine soup and noodles in individual serving bowls.  Store leftover soup and noodles separetely, unless freezing.

Enjoy with warm buttermilk biscuits slathered in butter.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Boy and His Hat

I finished Nathan's hat recently, but he didn't really get the chance to wear it (with me and my camera around, anyway) until this weekend.  Here's an Instagram recap:


I designed the hat so it can (hopefully) be worn for more than one winter. The striping pattern is supposed to remain the same no matter where you fold up the brim, but I guess the hat is just a little too big for it to work out that way now (or maybe Nathan's head is too small?  Doubt that!)  I'm sure it'll look the way it's meant to next winter.  When I include it in my someday knitting book, I'll be sure to write it for three- to four-year olds instead of two-year olds with larger-than-average head sizes.  :) 

I really liked this Instagram, so I thought I'd add it in, even though it's completely unrelated.  Sometimes life is like that.

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