Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tumbletown

It seems that we have a lot more tumbleweeds around this year and they're extra big!  Some of them are as tall as me!  It's going to be interesting to see them tumbling around when the winds pick up!

I snapped a picture of some of them in a vacant field when hubby and I were out for a bike ride...



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Homemade Tamales

We made tamales!  Homemade tamales!

I saw bags of masa at the grocery store last weekend and immediately thought about tamales and decided to go for it and try to make some.  So, I also bought a large package of chicken breasts that was on sale, a large can of green enchilada sauce, and a bag of corn husks.

I cooked the chicken in the crock pot all day today with the sauce, chopped onion, and garlic.  By mid afternoon, it was done and falling off the bones.  Hubby took all the meat off the bones, shredded it and mixed some of the green chili sauce and onions into it and set it aside.  I soaked the corn husks in hot water for about an hour.

I watched a couple of videos online that showed how to assemble the tamales.  It looked easy and it was!  It was also a lot of fun!  As we made the tamales, we set them inside the holey part of a pasta pot.  When we were finished, I set it into the main pot that had water in the bottom.  I got the water boiling and steamed them for 45 minutes and checked to see if they were done.  They ended up needing a little more cooking time.  Fifteen more minutes did the trick!

They turned out really good!  We had them with salsa on top.  Yum!  


When we started out assembling the tamales, I was making them kind of small.  Turned out that hubby was making them a lot bigger.  And, as we went along, they seemed to get bigger and bigger.  Funny, but it worked out just fine.  Next time, I'll use something to measure out the masa so they'll be more uniform in size.


We'll definitely be making tamales again!  They're so much fun and so good!
We'll try some different flavors too.  Turns out they can be made sweet or savory.  I had no idea!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chest, Chair and Change

There's a little shop nearby that I love.  It's called, "Cottage Charm".  They sell antiques and vintage things.  Their prices are usually really good and they're constantly bringing in new things.  So, I try to go often to see if they have any thing I might "need".  I've found quite a few great things there over the past few years.  I stopped in a few weeks ago but didn't find anything.  A week later, on Halloween, I stopped in again to see if there was anything new.  As soon as I walked in the door, I saw a black chest of drawers and it was love at first sight!  Yup...it came home with me!

Here it is in my entry when I first brought it home.  It's painted black, distressed, and waxed...it's all done and ready to be loved and used.  I thought it would be perfect to hold my fabric stash.


I love the wood knobs.  It's solid wood with dove tailed drawers.  And, the drawers are nice and clean and don't seem to have a weird smell like old chests often do.


I thought it would work well in the upstairs hall area.  It's just outside of my craft studio for easy access to the fabric inside.  It's a little hard to get a good photo in there though.  I have some decorating to do to the top of the chest.  And, I need to decide what to do with the art that was already in there and is now hanging above it.


It's a wonderful, very detailed cross stitch that my mom did years ago.  My dad made the frame for it.  All together, it's very special because it's been made by both of my parents.  Plus, the cross stitch is pretty spectacular.  The hall is a bit dark and will keep it from being faded.  I'm not in love with the color of the frame and mat though.  I've thought about changing it but feel that would take away from the creativity my parents put into it.  Maybe I can find some things for the top of the chest to tie it in and make it look better.  My mom made a little boy to match and gave it to my brother.

Here's a close up...


I've been on a cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of spree lately.  This chest of drawers took that to a higher level.  Even though I'd already gone through fabric bins, gotten rid of some stuff, and consolidated it to just four bins....buying the chest inspired me to go through again and this time I was ruthless!  I got rid of every piece of fabric that I wasn't in love with.  I only kept what I loved and had enough fabric to do something with.  That brought the amount of fabric down from four bins to one drawer and half of a second.  Wow!  That feels so good!


While I was going through the fabric, I ran across this scrap of fabric...again.  But, this time, I was about to get rid of it because I've had it for years, hadn't used it, and didn't know what to use it for.  I love it though.  It's beautiful!  And, I have a lot of red in my home.  Then...it hit me...all of a sudden...something I'd never thought of before...


I could use it to recover this chair...


I had just enough and it looks so much better!
I think Salsa even likes it!


It sits in our kitchen at the built in desk.  The fabric looks great with the flowers in the tin tray and with the curtains on the other side of the room.  Yay!  I'm so happy to have found a great use for it!  I have one more piece that I'm planning to use to re-cover a sewing bench cushion.


Going through the fabric was such a success and I was feeling so great from it that I decided to go through my yarn stash again.  And, I was ruthless with that too!  I got rid of almost all the leftovers from finished projects and I have a bunch of full skeins that I don't love and hope to find homes for or donate.  I'm using some of the drawer space for my cotton yarn.

While I was going through the yarn, I decided to try using a ball winder my mom had gotten at her church rummage sale a few years back and given to me.  I'd never tried it because I have another one that she'd given to me that had also been found at one of the church rummage sales.  It has a bigger spool to wind more yarn.  But, I thought it was time I gave this one a whirl.

It's heavy duty and made out of wood and metal.  Pretty cool!  I didn't realize until I went to use it that it sets up and works a lot different than most.  It worked great though and made a little ball from leftover yarn.  That's as big as it can make though.


I won't use it much because of the small amount it can wind but I'll definitely keep it.  I like how it's metal, has a bolt shaped like a heart, and how often do you find anything that says, "made in Liechtenstein"?!  Very cool and very unique!


It's interesting how buying that chest has made my cleaning out and ridding of things so much more successful.  And, I'm not done yet!  I still have more things I want to go through or go through again!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Rummage Sale Bargains

There's a rummage sale at my parent's church the first weekend of every November.  I try to go to it every year.  There have been times that I've found some great stuff like a quilt rack to work on a quilt with (big), bobbin winders, an umbrella swift, iron skillets and what I posted about HERE.  There have been other times that I walked out with absolutely nothing.  I didn't find anything spectacular this year but I did find some useful and fun things.  And, I only spent $3.95!

I started out by finding some little bags of stuff and decided to grab this cute little basket to hold it all in.  It was only .25c.  Then, I outgrew my basket.


I found a set of weights to hold patterns down.  Supposedly, with these, pinning the pattern down is not necessary.  I've heard of something like this and I'm excited to try it.  The package has never been opened.  So, set is like new!  I also found a pair of scissors that say "WISS" (as far as I can tell...it's faint and they're a little worn and grungy).  They're heavy duty, feel like quality, and I think that's a good brand (?).  I'll take them to the knife sharpener guy at the farmers market and have them spiffed up.  I've been wanting another nice pair of scissors.


I got a bag full of zippers...15!


Snaps and hooks...


About five yards of beautiful, red, velvet ribbon...still on the cardboard spool from the store.


Three bags of trims, seam binding, blanket binding, lace, etc.
Most of the packages have never been opened.


I love finding stuff like that.  It comes in useful and has even prevented runs to the store in the middle of some projects.  However, I now have so much that my trim jar is full and won't hold any more.  


It was fun calling my daughter to tell her about all the stuff I'd gotten.  She couldn't believe that I spent less than $4 for all of it!  I can't either!  I love bargains!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Finally, A Chart....

I found a little pattern on Ravelry this summer that I fell in love with.  It's called "Half Lotus Bunting".  I found it very challenging to figure out but I worked at it until I did.  I had mentioned in my Ravelry notes that I wanted to chart it for future reference.  Since then, I've gotten quite a few email and Ravelry messages, blog comments, and Instagram requests for the chart.  Seems that others are having trouble with the original pattern as well.

I got another message via Ravelry today and the sender was very frustrated at all of her failed attempts to figure out the pattern and asked when the chart might be available.  That finally got me to stop putting it off.  I grabbed some yarn, a hook, a pad of paper and pens, and my laptop to re-figure, re-write, and chart the pattern.

It was a lot of work!  But, so worth it because I'm thrilled to try to help others make this adorable bunting.  And, I'm sure I'll be happy I took the time to chart and re-write it when I decide to make another one.

I sure hope the designer doesn't mind that I did this.  I love her pattern and so appreciate that she shared it for free on Ravelry.  I just wanted to make it easier to follow and try to help others with it.

Here's a reminder of what this bunting looks like and the ones I've made...

This one is made with crochet thread and I added little tassels.
I love how it turned out.  I think I'll be putting it on one of my little Christmas trees.


This is one I made for my daughter.  It's made with Sugar 'n Cream yarn.
She loves it and so do her roommates.  That makes me so happy!  :-)



I made this one with Sugar 'n Cream and Handicrafter Cotton in Fall colors.
I love how it looks on my mantel!


Here it is....the chart.  It's my very first one.  They're not easy!  So, apologies for how it's a bit "wonky".  I hope it works and helps though.


I also took a photo of each finished row to help it all make sense.

Row 1

Row 2

Row 3

Row 4

Row 5

Row 6

Row 7

The re-write/revision may not be exactly as the designer designed it but it's the best I could figure.  If anyone has any questions or notices anything that needs to be fixed or changed, please let me know.  Here's the re-write...

Chain 9
1.       7 tc in 5th chain from hook, sl st in beginning chain – 9 tc posts

2.      Ch 3, turn, dc between first two stitches in previous row, *2 dc between each post of first row (repeat from * across), end row with 2 dc in last space – 8 pairs of 2 dc

3.       Ch 3, turn, dc in first dc and between next two stitches, *ch 4, skip 2 dc, sc in next space between stitches (repeat from * across), ch 4, dc in space between last two dc pair, dc in next to last dc and dc in third chain – 6 chain loops

4.       Ch 1, turn, sc in first dc, sc in each of the next 2 dc, sc in first chain loop, *ch 5, sc in next chain loop (repeat from *across), sc in each of the last two dc and third chain (3 dc) – 5 chain loops

5.       Ch 1, turn, sc in first sc, sc in each of next 3 sc, *ch 5, sc in next chain loop (repeat from * across), ch 5, sc in last four sc – 6 chain loops

6.      Ch 1, turn, sc in first sc and in each of next 3 sc, 3 sc in first chain loop, ch 6, *sc in next chain loop, ch 6 (repeat from * across), 3 sc in last loop, sc in each of last 4 sc – 5 chain loops

7.       Ch 1, sc in each of next 7 sc, *7 dc in next chain loop, dc in next sc (*2 times), 3 dc in third loop/center loop, ch 4, sc in fourth ch from hook, 3 dc in same/center loop, *dc in next sc, 7 dc in next chain loop (*2 times), sc in last 7 sc

8.       Ch 1 (for corner) and finish with single crochet stitches spaced evenly across the top.

9.      Give your bunting panels a nice finishing touch by gently stretching each one into shape and blocking with a steam iron.

10.   Connect panels together by making a chain (the length is up to you); single crochet across the top of first panel; chain (your choice of how many) between panels; continue for desired number of panels; end with another chain.  If you use thicker yarn (i.e. worsted), it looks great to turn and single crochet in the second chain from the hook and all the way back across the bunting.  It makes the string a little thicker.        Enjoy!  

Here's another photo of the chart with the key to the symbols...


The chart and re-write/revision can also be found on my Ravelry project page.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kitty Cuteness

Penelope is just so darn cute that I just can't stop taking pictures of her!

Here's a few of the newest ones...

She's always anxious to go to bed and patiently waits until she knows we're about to go upstairs.  Then, she races up and waits for us on the bed.  Sometimes she stays on the bed as we remove the comforter and pillow shams.  Here she is last night...looking like she was thinking, "come on, mom, hurry up, you're late for bed!"


She's a very snuggly girl but only with me.  She won't snuggle with anyone else in the family, no matter how hard they try.  She sleeps right next to me every night and has her own pillow that I put next to me for her to lay on.  Since it's started getting chilly at night, she's started to snuggle under the blankets.  She sometimes even puts her head on my shoulder or my pillow.  It's really hard to get a picture of her doing this because I have to do it with one hand on my phone, it's kind of dark, and she gets annoyed when she notices that I'm taking pictures...again.  But, I got one this morning!...


Since the weather has cooled, I'm back to knitting on this never ending blanket.  It works great because it's long enough to keep me warm...and, Penelope too.  ;-)


Does anyone reading this use PhotoGrid to size your photos before posting in Instagram?  Just yesterday the photos started having "PhotoGrid" on the corner.  That's kind of annoying!  Do you know how to prevent that?  Or, do you know of any other editing/re-sizing apps that won't do that?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lovely Leftovers

My recent weaving project left me with lots of left over yarn.  When I realized how badly I'd calculated and how much was left, my mind quickly started brainstorming about what I could do with it.  The idea of a doily popped up and it seemed like the perfect use for this yarn.

I started crocheting one this morning and I'm loving the results...


I'm using a size "E" crochet hook and the "Summer Splendor" pattern that's free on Ravelry.


I love it when I find a project/pattern that's a perfect match for stash yarn!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday!

Whooosh!  Another week has flown by!  How is it that they're going by so quickly?!  Is the world spinning faster?  I wish the days would slow down!  I'm trying to get stuff done here!

This week was a bit more productive in that I finished my weaving project.  And, I've started to get back to exercising everyday.  It's just walking with a little running here and there but it's a big deal that I'm getting back to it.  I was doing great earlier this year but fell off the fitness wagon months ago.  I haven't been all that enthused about getting back to it.  The heat had a lot to do with it.  It's VERY nice that the weather is cooling down now!  Mornings have been in the 50's and that's much more comfortable than 80's.  Especially when the sun is shining.

I snapped a couple pictures on my walk this morning.  I think it's interesting that these trees are covered in little yellow flowers when the calendar says it's Fall.  Looks a lot more like Spring to me!


Another accomplishment for this week isn't quite complete but what I've done so far feels really good!  I've been going through absolutely everything in my craft studio.  I'm getting rid of things (donating, trash and recycling) and organizing.  I'm finding so much more space!  I love that!

I also accomplished something I've been putting off...a dentist appointment.  Ugh!  I had all my old fillings replaced earlier this year and thought I was good to go and wouldn't need the dentist except for cleanings for quite a while.  Wrong!  During our June/July road trip some of my bottom teeth all of a sudden became very sensitive to cold and sometimes chewing.  The dentist checked it out and couldn't find anything wrong.  We decided to give it some time and use Sensodyne toothpaste. It's not any better and I've been putting off calling for months.  I just don't like going to the dentist!  The only  thing he found this time is that the nerves under two teeth look  inflamed.  So, I've been instructed to take Advil every six hours for three days.  He said it often fixes the problem.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  If that doesn't work I'll need to go back and get a "medicated filling" to try to calm the nerve.  If that doesn't work...root canal!  Ugh!   But, hey....going this week was an accomplishment!  Right?!  :-/

Ok....I need to get off the computer and back to work!  I want this day to be productive.

Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Off the Loom

The weaving project I've been working on this week is off the loom!

After I was finished weaving and before taking it off the loom I added a hem stitch.


I love the results!


 I thought a hem stitch would be a good choice because of the limited amount of yarn I had. It made it so I didn't have to take length from the dish towel to fold it over and sew hems.  I was hoping that would help give me enough yarn to have a nice size dish towel.


However, I severely mis-guessed on the length of my warp.  I really should take time to figure out how to calculate and then actually use the math needed to do it right.  But, I hate math!  I've gotten by fine on all of my previous projects...until now.  Did I mention how much I hate math?!

I got this little....um...place mat?...cloth?...???...instead.  It's 14" long (not counting the fringe) x 16" wide.  I do love how the yarn and colors wove up though.  It feels really nice and looks good.


I ended up with at least a third of the yarn left over...maybe even closer to half!
I have an idea for something I can use it for though.


I tried and tried to get a photo that would accurately show off the pretty, warm, fall colors.  But, no matter what I did or where I took the photo, it just didn't work.  It's very pretty in person though.


My wonderful assistant that "helped" me with this project is seeing it all the way to the end.  She's sitting here, right next to me, as I write this blog post.  What would I do without her?!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weaving!

I have a great little LeClerc floor loom that sits patiently waiting...and waiting...and waiting for me to use it.  I bet it's in shock right now because I actually am using it again!  I measured out some warp last week for a dish towel and finished warping yesterday.

I have a weaving assistant!  She supervised last week from behind the loom.  Yesterday, as I finished up, Penelope jumped up on my lap and looked up at me as if to ask what I was doing...


Then, she did a close up inspection to make sure I did it right...


Then, I started weaving!  Wooot!  It's so fun!  Why don't I do this more often?!


I'm just doing a simple plain weave for this dish towel project.  I love seeing how multi-colored yarn works up.  And, so far, this is looking great!  I have a busy day ahead but I hope to find some time to work on it today.  There's only enough yarn for one towel.  So, it should work up pretty quickly.

Happy Tuesday!