Saturday, March 31, 2012

Little Easter Peep Crochet Pattern

On the plane home yesterday, I had a little blue yarn left over from a baby blanket I am working on and my brand new Susan Bates plastic hooks, so I decided to try out this cute little pattern I found in my blogging forays at Hanni Craft. She called it a little Easter Peep, and it was such a little cutie I just couldn’t help myself. The pattern was quite easy, and it worked up quite fast.

Since I was on a plane I didn’t have any cotton batting at hand to stuff my two little Peeps with. So I took some plastic and napkins from a pack of plastic silverware I had in my bag and stuffed them with that! A little unconventional, and my little Peep better not take any swims anytime soon, but it seemed to work fine and give it a nice shape. Unfortunatelu, Hanni did not provide the pattern for the little birdie beak. So I improvised on that a bit and added it to the pattern below. I used an H hook with some baby sport yarn. Here is my little birdie in the Easter tableau I made for our dining room table:

I’ll definitely be sending one of these to my Mom as well (sorry for the spoiler!) as this seems like a peepalicious way to wish someone a Happy Easter!

ch = chain
sc = single crochet stitch
st = stitch
sc"tog = single crochet stitch two stitches together (decreasing)
* repeat *

Peep's pattern
Make a magic ring.
1. row: 6 sc
2. row: 2 sc into each st (total: 12 st)
3. row: * 1 sc, 2 sc * (total: 18 st)
4-7. row: 1 sc into each st
8. row: sc, sc2tog in each 5th st (total: 15 st)
9-12. row: 1 sc into each st
13. row: sc, sc2tog in each 4th st (total: 10 st)
14. row: sc2tog in each (5 st)
Bind off.

For Beak:

Leave a long tail for fastening the beak to the head. Ch 4, sc in 2 chain and though end of row. 3 sc.
Sc3tog to make the pointy end of the beak. Fasten off, and weave end into the beak. Use a tapestry needle to sew the beak to the head.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Blick Art Materials in Portland!

Just returned from my work trip to Portland today. Whoever said it was rainy in that part of the country wasn’t lying- it rained almost the entire time I was there! Ate dinner in the Pearl District at a place called Andina. The food was Peruvian, and it was simply amazing. I totally recommend it if you ever end up in the area! I attempted to window shop after dinner, but at only 7, most of the shops that weren’t bars were closed. There was one place that was open, called Blick Art Materials on Glisan St. The place was seriously crafting nirvana! I had to restrain myself from scooping up everything and taking it home with me. 

Matryoshka & Disco Ball Earbuds!

Mirrored birds. Totally basing a craft project off this one.
After wandering for about half an hour, I managed to hone my choices down to a few perfect things that would fit in my suitcase without any zipper explosions. They had Shrinky Dink plastic in several different colors, so I bought some in purple. Keep a look out for some cool jewelry coming up. I also found a pack of Susan Bates plastic crochet hooks. These are my favorite hooks ever, but I can’t find them in Texas and the ones in the sizes I use a lot had all broken since I use them so much. So major score there. And then there was the handmade paper.

The whole back wall of the store was racks and racks of beautiful handmade paper. They had some really big pieces that I wanted but didn’t think I could get home without damaging in my suitcase. But they had a small multi-pack of gorgeous paper for 99 cents (no idea what I’ll use it for, just couldn’t help myself), and a kit that only cost $6 to create three handmade Japanese style books. A little nervous about this last one, as the directions look very detailed. But I hope they turn out OK, seems like it would be a lovely handmade gift for someone special.

I am so excited to have acquired all this crafting inspiration. Now I just have to find the time to get it all done!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Fast Food" at Home: Speedy Cassoulet

I have had the worst travel schedule for work lately. Three weeks in a row I have been gone. Not exactly conducive to crafting, cooking, or writing for that matter. I have been actively working on a baby blanket on the plane, and some other small projects, but just haven't had time to get them together for a post!

Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table fast. Thanks to my pal Betty (you know how much I love her, like in this post, and this one!) and a few cans from your pantry, now you can! The recipe tells you to do this on the stove, but I did mine in the crock pot because I had some sausage in the freezer that I didn't feel like de-frosting. Tossed them in about an hour before dinner, and sliced them up after they had been sitting awhile on high. Then I topped each bowl with some homemade bread crumbs. The recipe says you can have this done in 15 minutes, which really is some FAST food! =)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wine Cork Tray

I've seen a lot of cute decorations out there that are embellished with wine corks. I started collecting all the corks from the wine we drink three or so years ago and displaying them in this big hurricane jar. When I saw a cute tray at Hobby Lobby for eight bucks, I decided this was the perfect time to use up some of my corks! Although visitors might have thought I just drink too much wine (three years is a long time, people!) they totally came in handy for this project.

Haha, so true
I don't have a before picture, but the tray was just plain on the bottom. I lined up the different corks in seven rows and matched them up so they slotted in nicely. Then I proceeded to hot glue, and hot glue, and hot glue....Several burned fingers later, here is what I ended up with:

I put glue on the bottom and the side of each cork so that they would all stick together pretty seamlessly. Turned out pretty cute, although I have not used it yet except in the display of china and such above our kitchen cabinets. Here is a side view:

Have you tried this out yet? I have seen some cute projects for coasters and cork boards that look adorable!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lace Earrings!

I've mentioned this before, but I love thrift shopping at the Goodwill Outlet in CA. A few weeks ago I found this cute t-shirt with floaty sleeves, a keyhole back, and some cute lace at the bottom:

The only problem was the lace was just SO tight. The rest of the shirt fit great, so after I read this post about lace earrings, I thought, this lace could be going better places than making me uncomfortable! Carefully snip, snipped around the bottom, and then I had a t-shirt that fit great. I didn't bother sewing it because the shirt is made of a jersey type fabric, and the sides were serged. I don't have an after picture because I was so excited the shirt fit that I put it on right away, and now it's in the laundry. Oops.

After my lace had been rescued, I looked over the part that was all white, and found some flowers that matched and carefully cut them out. Then I took some of my fabric stiffener and used a paint brush to carefully spread it on my flowers and let it dry on our grease screen (It's non-toxic, I promise!).

I picked up some earring posts and backs from Hobby Lobby today ($1.50, 50% off!) and hot glued each flower to one of the posts. I haven't glued the big flowers yet; I am still deciding if they would be too huge for my ears. A pin maybe? Here is the finished product, one on each ear:

I think I like the left one better, the shape is just super cute. This took about 15 minutes altogether, and I am totally loving it. Can't wait to wear one of these to work tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ugly Frame = New "Antique" Mirror with Krylon Looking Glass Mirror Spray Paint

When I got married a few years ago, we got lots of lovely gifts. Like our stand mixer. And Fiesta ware. And a cordless drill. And then there are those things you just don't like, and with no gift receipt, alas, you are stuck with it! This large frame was one of them:

It is something like 11x17, and for a while I thought about putting a wedding picture in there. But then I thought such a huge picture of us would be weird. And then it sat behind our couch and got sort of dinged up. And I never really like how gold it was. 

I have noticed lately that these ornate black scrolly frames seem very popular in stores, and figured if I spray painted it black it would look more modern. I also wanted to experiment with Krylon Looking Glass Mirror Spray Paint, which I have seen a number of people use in projects on their respective blogs. With my 40% off coupon, it was only $8. 

To start, I spray painted the frame. I used some black paint that was supposed to be rust proof for cars. Not so worried about the rusting of my wooden frame, but it was what we had and didn't seem worth buying something new. Took a number of coats (about 4) and a touch-up spray the next day, but went pretty well. Then I laid out my glass and sprayed the back five times like the can said, waiting for it to dry in between sprays. I also did a second touch up spray the next day. I am feeling a bit iffy about how it turned out- a little blurry, with some weird spots. And definitely not equal to the quality of a real mirror. Not sure if I just sprayed unevenly or what. In any case, I have decided to call this look "antique." 

I am however pretty happy with the frame. It is much better looking now without all that ugly gold! It's now on my dresser with my jewelry box. Maybe if I get tired of this as a mirror, I'll just use the empty frame by itself as a decoration. Has anyone else tried this Krylon paint with somewhat better luck?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Granola Bar Cookie Recipe

One of my pet peeves is throwing away food. I hate, hate, hate it. I mean, we go grocery shopping, buy all this nice fresh food, and to throw it away seems sad. So sometimes I come up with some inventive combinations to use that list bit of whatever, which I obviously do not post here for your consumption. In this case, the item that I wanted to use up was some sweetened carob chips. I do not know what a carob is made of, and I have never eaten one before. All I know is that it is a chocolate IMPOSTER. I had originally bought these little chips from the bulk section thinking they were real semi-sweet chips. Because that particular batch of cookies was a gift, I didn't use them that day.

And then they sat in my pantry for six months, as these things do. Finally I Googled and Pinterest'd (is that a word?) some ideas, and was presented mostly with dog treat ideas. Mmm, just what I want to put in my desert! Finally on yes, flax has its' own website- I found a recipe for some cookies that looked vaguely palatable. Mixed those babies up, threw in a 1/4 cup of peanut butter to spice things up, and hoped for the best. I was too lazy to make real cookies, so I threw the mix in my handy dandy non-stick pan.

Before shot
I let them cool for a bit, and although the flax blended in just fine, it didn't really taste like a cookie. It did taste something like a granola bar, so that is what I am calling these. I ate a nice sized piece for breakfast, and it kept me full all morning! Hubby was not the huge-est fan, "Too much fiber." But that is also probably the reason that it kept me going all morning. And I could sort of pretend I was eating cookies for breakfast! So, not super sold on the whole carob thing, but they totally grew on me as I munched on them during the week. Check out the recipe here. Not bothering to re-post since all I changed was making them into a bar and adding that creamy peanut butter! looks like a cookie. But it's not.
P.S. Link Party-ing this one! Today's Creative Blog

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Canadian Bacon Pancakes

Just a short post today. My pancake obsession is still in full force. Woke up this morning and decided to make them for breakfast with Betty's awesome recipe. This time I only put in half a cup of milk, and they were so much thicker and fluffier. But the best part was I fried some Canadian bacon and then poured the batter right over the bacon. What a yummy combo- crispy meat and fluffy pancake. Can't believe I never thought of this before! Happy St Patty's day everyone!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Canvas Photo Art Made from a Cracker Box

I have seen several blog posts recently that showed you how to decoupage a picture onto a canvas so as to avoid spending a bunch of money having the Walgreens photo department or whatever do it for you. What I haven't seen posted is making making a canvas-like photo from an old box! I am not sure where the inspiration for this one came from. I love to decoupage anything, so that must be part of it.

So I will admit that completing this project took me more than a little trial and error. All the better for you to learn from my mistakes! I have had it in mind for a while to frame a few of our wedding/engagement photos, because I haven't done much with them even though our three year anniversary is coming up in September. A quick note on whether to get your photo printed at a photo center: I thought about doing so, but I was impatient, and since I have a new printer and I had made the photo black and white, I decided the quality would be fine and that regular paper would be easier to decoupage onto the sides of the box. Plus, since I printed it out and threw it away about ten times while I figured this out, I was really glad I didn't. What you need for this project:

-a box, like a cereal or cracker box depending on how big you want your "canvas" to be
-Elmers glue or Modge Podge
-Paint brush
-Printed photo (more on this below)
-Some yarn if you want to make a hanger for the back
-Scotch tape

I started with this picture, and gave it a black "mat" in Photoshop. I made the picture itself about 1/2 an inch shorter than my box on each side, which was 5 1/2x6". I had started trying to size the photo exactly to the box, but had no luck getting that just right.

Next, I cut around the entire mat. I knew it was going to be a little big, but wanted to err on the side of caution. I cut it too small a few times and nobody likes to print things out over and over again. Next, I took my ruler and marked lightly in pencil what 5 1/2" and 6" should look on the corresponding sides so I could line up where the mat ended and the sides began.

To make my canvas, I carefully opened the top and bottom of the box, and cut out new sides that were about 3/4" thick, like so. Trim the edges so they all line up neatly, and then tape the corners together so it forms a canvas shape. Make sure to tape with the shiny printed side in.

Then I lined up my marks with the sides of the box and folded them over, sort of like a package. Make sure the black space around the top and bottom of your mat is even.

I had a little overlap on each side, so I wrapped the leftover over the edges of the box so I knew how much to cut off. I just pulled the paper and cut around my folded "mark."

To stick my photo on, I started spreading my glue over the top and sides, then carefully replaced my folded paper and smoothed it out so it wouldn't be lumpy. Once it's smooth, spread some glue inside the flap of your folders corners and make sure those get glued down smoothly. To finish, spread a thin layer of glue over the top and sides of the picture. This will make it shiny and give it brush marks like a canvas might have.  Let dry overnight.

If you're me, you might decide to decoupage over the shiny part of your box the first time around. Don't do this:
Mmm crackers behind our picture!
Here is my real complete canvas. It is hanging in my hallway because it doesn't have a real home yet.

If you want to make a hanger, cut a piece of yarn and hot glue it tightly to each side, like so, and then tape each end securely down the side so it doesn't pop out.

Loving this (basically free) project! I think I am going to make a group of three to hang on our currently theme-less second bedroom/office wall. The beauty of this one is you could change it out frequently with no guilt. Yay recycling!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beaded Crochet T-shirt Scarf

It seems like t-shirt scarfs are all the rage right now! This is my second one that I have made, and I do like how they dress up a plain t-shirt. During a recent Goodwill-by-the-pound visit on a work trip to CA (I don't think they have this glorious invention in TX) I picked up a long pink dress made up of t-shirt material. It was cute, but the length was weird, and it had a little hole. Unfortunately I did not take before shots. =(

To make this particular scarf, I cut thin uninterrupted loops starting at the hem. I had to sew the ends together of my other t-shirt scarf to make an actual scarf, but this was so much easier since the dress was wide enough to make a scarf length. As I cut each strip, I pulled it tight to get the fabric to roll together.

Then came the hard part. I strung a ton of beads onto some Aunt Lydia's #10 crochet thread, then crocheted chains and brought up a bead every ten or so stitches and chained over it. Sounded semi-easy when I first thought of it, but was totally, ridiculously tedious. The thread kept getting tangled, and it was just an overall mess. I made two strings of these crocheted beads, and then put them together with my strings of t-shirt. To finish off, I crocheted two little cuffs (8 chains, and then single crochet about 8 rows, or whatever is big enough to wrap around all the strings of your scarf, then slip stitch the two ends over everything) to secure the pieces together. Here is the result:

If you don't have crochet skills, you could take the simple (and less mind numbing) route of just making a few strings of beads, and then using a piece of your t-shirt to secure everything in two spots like I did with the cuffs. Would still have the bead-y, drape-y look that I got here, but just a little simpler in the construction. Have you tried making one of these scarfs yet using the many tutorials found online?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Water Lily Vest from Crochet Today

I get almost all of my patterns from Crochet Today magazine. Most of them are pretty modern, and it is great to get inspiration in my mailbox every month! I try to crochet one pattern from each magazine, just to make sure I am getting the worth of my subscription. This past month, I decided to make this cute vest:

 It was supposed to be a water lily, but I had this purple and white cashmere blend yarn I have been saving up for the right project, and this seemed just right. I won't post the pattern here for all the internet to see, but do post a comment if you're interested in the pattern. Here is how mine turned out:

I am pretty happy with how it turned out. Excited to wear it out and about!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Perfect Blondie Recipe (aka butterscotch brownies)

In the continuing saga of how awesome Betty Crocker's cookbook is, I am sharing her recipe for blondies. In case you haven't run across these yet, they have a brownie consistency but are made with lots of brown sugar, so they taste like delicious butterscotch. I am not a huge baker because I am sort of impatient and get freaked out by the mass quantities of butter required for most yummy baked goods. But Betty tells me these are "low fat" (not low sugar of course, but we're not quibbling), and most of the time I have all the ingredients in the house. Plus they are almost impossible to screw up, so here you go!

The recipe calls for using the usual square pan, but I have these cake pans that are non-stick by Circulon, and nothing ever, ever sticks to them. So this is my pan of choice if I'm ever making something that is sticky or messy!

Before shot. Mmm even looks like butterscotch!

After, couldn't wait to take a bite

And just to mix things up a bit, while they were still warm, I used cookie cutters to make cute shapes. The only thing better than a blondie is a blondie that looks like a cookie! =)

P.S. Posting this one at a link party!

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Easter Egg Jar!

If you read my last post, you probably think I have a bit of an Easter egg obsession. I don't, exactly, but I do like Easter decorations, and since I am still working on my tableau of spring stuff around the house, I figured I would post about it. On a recent Target visit, there was this cute Mason jar-like container with Easter eggs inside that was covered with burlap. It was like ten bucks, but as usual, I said to myself, "I can make my own!"
Stealth Target picture!
I had four plastic decorated eggs that I bought two years ago on super-after Easter clearance, as well as some cute fabric that covered a Mason jar gift I got a while back. Cut the fabric into a nice square and ripped off the ribbon hangers on each of the eggs (never had much use to hang them anywhere)

Then I cleaned the label off this cute jar that some super yummy banana gummies came in (look for them if you're ever at Williams Sonoma!) by running it under warm water under the sink. It came off surprisingly pain free.

Then I took my square of cute fabric and secured it on top of my jar with a rubberband. Covered the rubberband up with a bow made from some ribbon I saved from our wedding.

Rubberband action close-up
And wal-ah! Check out my cute new egg jar! I didn't make the bunny family sitting next to the jar, that was an awesome and adorable gift from my Mom a few years ago. =)

P.S. Including this post in another link party! =)
Today's Creative Blog

Somewhat Simple

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Egg Candles!

Several weeks ago at Michael's, I saw these cute fake "cracked" egg candles. I know I could have bought them, but decided to try making my own instead! This was actually a super simple project, even if you've never made a candle before.

Here is what you need:

-Uncracked eggs
-Small candle wicks
-Microwave melting wax, or regular wax if you want to do it over the stove
-Microwave safe measuring cup with a spout
-Egg cups for balancing your new candles in

To start, one morning when I was making breakfast, I carefully pressed my finger into the top of my eggs so that there was a small-ish hole, like this:

I carefully turned the egg upside down to slip out the egg, and proceeded with making scrambled eggs. I have seen some tutorials that tell you to blow the egg out, which really seems like a lot of work since I was going for the "just hatched" look, but you can do that as well.

After your eggs have been washed and left out to dry (I let mine sit for a few days) put some hot glue on the metal piece on the underside of the wick, and glue it to your egg. Taking this extra step will make sure it doesn't slip around once you pour your wax. Melt your wax in your measuring cup, stirring it every minute or so. Make sure to read the instructions that came with your wax, just to make sure you understand any weird quirks with that wax brand

When the wax is completely melted, carefully pour the wax into your egg, stopping 2-3 cm from the top. Trim the wick if there is a lot leftover. Here is a cool shot of mine in the dark.

Totally fun and easy, and hopefully this gets your spirits up for SPRING! =)

Posting this one at a link party!