Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Trees and Scarves

Our power came back on, after 4 1/2 days. Not enough time for me to exhaust my candle collection, but long enough to thaw everything in the freezer... Oh well :) We have our tree up, but haven't had a chance to decorate it since the power outage.

I think 25 days of Christmas was a little too ambitious for me =) I hope to have many holiday-themed posts this year, but I can't promise all 25.

Yesterday I put up my office Christmas tree, which I've had for 6 years now. It's a tiny little thing, less than a foot tall. I used to decorate my cubicle walls and put lights up, but this year I'm in a shared office, so I don't have as much space. While I'm not complaining about that, I kind of miss my old decorations.

I think I'll get some new ornaments for the little tree, and maybe put up a festive background. I also like putting up a little greenery candle ring as a mini wreath. They smell so nice!

For Thanksgiving we had a great visit with my husband's parents. My mother-in-law also loves working with yarn, and she gave me this beautiful mohair, which I made into a scarf.

I love the colors, and it's SO warm! The iPhone white balance is a little off, but this one is more true.

I call it my Very Hungry Caterpillar scarf =) 

Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Inspiration - day 1 and 2

I've decided to post every day from now until Christmas with ideas, recipes and other inspiration for the holiday season. Enjoy!

Today you get two day's worth, because our house has been without power for two days now. That's part of living in the mountains, but we got hit pretty hard this time around. Here's a shot from my neighborhood

Fortunately, there's more than one way to get home, so we were able to get around it. And here's hoping we have power restored very soon.

I thought I'd start things off with something good to eat! Whether you're throwing a party, giving them as gifts, or enjoying them yourself, it's always good to have a stash of great recipes at hand.

 Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites
These look absolutely fabulous! I haven't tried them yet, but I have a feeling they'll be on my list this year. Yum! Here's another take using a different pretzel shape. 
Chocolate and mint is one of my favorite combinations, so I'll definitely be trying this one also.

Lastly, here's a new take on the traditional gingerbread house. Super cute!

Kids or no kids, these look fun. I like the idea of using them for place cards at a holiday party.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cord Wrap

Over Halloween weekend we did some reorganizing of the house. I worked on the utility room for a bit, and discovered something simple but very useful for wrapping up long extension cords.

I took a piece of hook-side velcro (the black) about 6-8 inches long, and sewed on a piece of loop-side velcro (white) to the back of the hooks. I made two in just a few minutes, and you can see that my stitching isn't all that straight :) I like that they're different colors, so it's easy to wrap and unwrap.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Pot Pie

Ok, it's really chicken pot pie, but in pumpkin bowls, which makes an already good thing even more AWESOME.

A co-worker mentioned the idea, and I was immediately all over it.

I apologize for the poor quality photos. I was in a hurry making these for guests, and grabbed my phone. The lighting was pretty terrible.

I had a couple sugar pumpkins, and a couple of acorn squash. Most of the recipes called for opening the top like a jack-o-lantern, but I quickly realized that it would result in HUGE portions. So I cut everything in half, and then I made a separate pot pie in a glass dish with the leftover filling, so people could go back for seconds if they wanted.

The acorn squash was so pretty, and also tasted delicious. I can't decide which I liked better.

I combined bits of a couple recipes, from We Are Not Martha and TLC. I had baked some chicken breasts the night before, and I used pre-made crust. The veggies I added were potatoes, carrots, onions and peas. Some of the recipes didn't specify how to add the flour, but I just made a roux in the pan after I'd sauteed the vegetables.

I didn't spend a whole lot of time making the crusts look pretty, because I had hungry guests waiting (myself included!) The whole pumpkin in the background I only filled partially, and I took it for lunch the next day. The pumpkin was very soft, but it was still delicious as leftovers.

Definitely something I'll try again!

I'm always looking for quick weeknight recipes, and pizza is one of my favorite things. I had tried making the crust late the night before, but due to a sleep-deprived calculation error, I had added WAY too much salt.

However, I was determined to have homemade pizza for dinner, so I found a quick pizza dough recipe that was delicious. I substituted just 1/2 cup whole wheat for flavor, and let my mixer knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. I topped it with (leftover) herb pasta sauce, sauteed zucchini and bell pepper, chicken Italian sausage and jack cheese.

YUMMY! Tasty pizza in under 45 minutes.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bags by the Dozen

I've been in the mood to make bags, purses and totes lately. One great inspiration is that Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties are banning plastic shopping bags starting next year, and are charging for using paper bags. Whether or not you or I agree with the ban doesn't matter as much as what to do about it.

I'm going to start by making some more market bags like some of the ones I did last year.

I was planning on putting together a list of great bags to make, but someone beat me to it over at This is a great list of bags. Go check it out, really! Very inspiring.

Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order. There is a lack of pictures on my part, because I want to spend all afternoon sewing, not downloading and re-posting photos.

Quilting for Peace has a great little shopping bag tutorial. I think the shorter handles would make them easier to fill. Sure, the longer handles can go over your shoulder, but I've found that the grocery store clerks have trouble holding them open.

Skip to my Lou's boxy zippered bag is a classic.

For adorable little zippered felt purses, bluegirlxo is quite inspiring.

I love the recycled cargo pants  messenger bag over at noddlehead.

Craft Nectar links to an ingenious grab bag design. Definitely want to try these.

I've been looking for a good yoga mat bag, something simple to make and easy to use. Pickles has a great crocheted bag that looks perfect.

BurdaStyle has a nice looking purse that looks like it would be fun to make.

There's a great beach bag tutorial over at obsessive crafting disorder (what a cute name!) I love the mesh panel idea.

Here is a cute crocheted tote from Classic Elite Yarns.

Lastly, here are three shopping bags to inspire you:

The Jane Market Bag

A simple grocery bag pattern

And a cute crocheted bag.


Sunday, September 18, 2011


Continuing with my love of all things autumn, I started sewing some fabric pumpkins. I haven't decided how I'm going to sew the leaf yet, but I'll probably add a crocheted stem, and maybe some tendrils. I have ideas on how to improve the shape, and I'm looking forward to making more of these.

While I was searching for pumpkin leaf designs, I ran across this lovely cake at Hurry Up, Cakes. Of course, now I want to bake some cakes =) Wouldn't this be perfect for a Halloween party?

And, speaking of Halloween, here is an adorable crochet pattern costume from Darncat Crochet.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Apple Cookies

Last night we had some friends over, and I made these glazed apple cookies. I was looking for something that really tastes like fall, and these fit perfectly.

I used granny smith apples, and grated rather than chopped. Next time I'll chop, since the little ribbons of apple were I think less pleasant than chunks would be. Nobody complained, though, and the plate was empty in no time.

I also used butter instead of shortening, cut the sugar down to a heaping cup, and left out the nuts and raisins. I used my standard pumpkin spice blend- cut down the cloves a little and added a pinch of allspice. I also increased the vanilla in the icing to give them extra flavor. A hint of maple instead might be nice.

Next time I will definitely double the recipe.

They were a little on the sticky side, so I might also increase the dry ingredients if it looks too wet before baking.

I'm looking forward to fall with it's crisp air, mulled cider, and pumpkins. I already saw some pumpkins in the store!

-- iPhone post

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Red Wedding Corset

This weekend two of our friends got married, and I had the honor of making the bride's gown. It was a deep red satin corset with a sweetheart neckline and black beaded lace applique, and a black satin pencil skirt with ruffle in the back. I took a couple pictures of the corset in the works, but not too many.

I did something slightly new for the corset binding. Normally I would do either a contrasting or matching binding on the bottom or on both sides, but in this case I wanted both sides to be hidden. I did a standard seam on the top, and used seam binding at the bottom.

After all the edges were made even and the bones were bound, I lined up the seam binding with the lower edge, and sewed right down the middle, leaning slightly towards the edge.
Then I folded the binding in half and wrapped it around to the inside, pulling the fashion fabric about 1/8 inch over and hand sewed the binding in to make a clean edge. I definitely would do this again, especially for a corset with decoration on it. I discovered that Casper likes some of the music I play while sewing. Several times he stood close to the speakers like this and listened intently for awhile before curling up right in front of them. Very cute =)
Here's the initial placement of the lace, and mirroring it onto the other side.

...and, the finished product. I don't have too many pictures of the skirt, but the corset was really the main piece anyway.

I had my hair in an up-do with curls in the back, and a big red rose on the side. I also have a new lens (50mm prime) for my camera that I've been playing around with. Mainly I've been having fun with the shallow depth of field that comes with a 1.8 f-stop, but I haven't gotten too much practice with it yet.

I took a couple photos of our foster kitties with the new lens, and this is one of my favorites of that batch. His name is My Boyfriend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sock Yarn and Roots

Currently I'm on a sock yarn roll, but I haven't made any socks (yet) =)

With this gold and orange yarn I'm making a set of fingerless gloves.

I love striping yarn, and the way it's always changing colors and keeping things interesting.

This project is also a test of patience, because normally I would pick a thicker yarn and be nearly finished by now. But I know in the end I'm going to have a beautiful project.

I've made a couple of coin purses lately, which are fun and easy, and very rewarding. I made one for my dad for father's day, since he had requested one awhile back. Sadly, I didn't take a picture.

Then I made one as a little giveaway for my friends. It was a prize for the person who could guess closest to the value inside the piggy bank that came with our new car, cleverly disguised as a stereo system.

Note: Don't leave kids unattended with a cd player and change! They're not getting any candy out, and it would be an expensive lesson.

The zippers were fun. Definitely want to make more of these.

While gardening last weekend I pulled out this poppy and got a pretty little surprise. I've never seen roots this uniformly shaped that it looks like a rusted metal rope.

-- iPhone post

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crochet in the Car

The other day my husband and I carpooled into work. It's a little under an hour each way, and I usually bring crochet that I don't have to watch too closely, as it's a very curvy road.

On the way there I made most of a water bottle tote, but then on the way back I got the idea to try washcloths.

I thought rather than a flat one I'd make it 3D, kind of like a loofah.

It turned out ok, but next time I'll use cotton/acrylic rather than the 100% cotton.

The idea was very simple, I started with a magic ring with 6 sc, then did two sc in each for 12, and then a one-two for 18 to make the center. Then I did 3 dc in each, and then 2 dc in each for the last few rows to finish the ruffle.

Our kitties continue to take turns going to the vet. This time it was Casper with a foxtail in the eye (ouch!) He's doing much better now but is still squinty and requested no photography ;)

Mouse, however, is always happy to pose.

And here's a rare shot of Spook lounging in bed. She reminds me of a resting dragon in this pic.

-- iPhone post

Monday, June 20, 2011

Funky Dress

I know, two posts in one week, don't look so shocked =)

I'm on the email list for Vogue and McCalls, and they send me specials every now and then. It's handy because patterns can be expensive!

I'm undecided on this dress. I like the general shape, and the panel in the front, but I'm not sure about the side "flaps."

As usual, the diagram looks very different from the photo, so that's not so helpful.

Hmm, I have some burgundy fine knit fabric kicking around, so I may just have to experiment.

-- iPhone post

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kitties and Quick Projects

I think I'm making up for my 3-4 years last decade where I didn't have any cats. In addition to our 4 kids, we've been fostering some kittens. The first pair (we named Luke and Leia) just went up for adoption and now we have three little grey and white boys, yet unnamed.

Also, Mouse had a little lump taken care of, so here's the obligatory recovery cuteness :)

This afternoon she gets the cone off, which I'm sure will make her very happy.

As usual, I have many projects in the works, as well as a big exciting reorganizing of the craft room.

In the meantime, here's a pretty little washcloth that I'm going to enjoy making with my scraps of cotton and cotton-ease: (Lion Brand reg required)

Along with my craft room cleanup, I sorted out over 50 skeins of yarn that I no longer need, and will never use, and hauled them down to Goodwill.

I'm loving our new car, and all the storage space =)

Lastly, here's a BBQ sauce recipe that I haven't tried yet, but has rave reviews. Fire up that grill!

Hope everyone has a great weekend =)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cleaning and Painting

I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but those were a couple of my small projects this weekend.

I have this white square planter that's a couple of years old. The little lemon tree in it had been long dead, munched on by the deer and then sadly neglected. The wood had started to peel and fade, so it was time for a new coat.

It looks much better afterwards; in fact it's almost glowing in the twilight. You can also see one of my two new lavender plants in the foreground (which brings the front yard to 5 total, different varieties) and a newly planted Queen Elizabeth rose in between. I'm hoping the lavender will act as a small barrier to keep the deer away from my rose.

Some friends of ours were celebrating their 10 year anniversary this weekend, and I wanted to get them a little something special. A picture frame came to mind, and I found this wooden black one with carved flowers in the front.

I thought it was missing a little punch, so I masked off the edges and painted the flowers a deep red. Here's a before, and "in progress" with a grey primer:

And the deep red, all finished.

On Sunday I climbed onto the roof to scrub the skylights, which have gotten filthy over the last year or so. Right after I got up there, Casper trotted on over to see what I was up to, and then Mouse joined him in lounging near by. I can definitely understand why they like it up there, it's a fun spot!

And finally, here's a project from last weekend. My husband and I upgraded from an older full/queen size futon mattress and got a custom built California king mattress. What a difference!

So of course we needed a new bed frame. The one I built a long time ago got dismantled, and we found some plans online for a platform bed. With a little tweaking here and there, we now have a beautiful redwood bed frame, with plenty of room for storage underneath!

Marms supervised the whole thing.

The old bed will eventually be turned into a small planter, just like the wood futon frame before it. (The marigolds in the second picture are housed in that planter.)

And there are all our cats except for Spook! She came in last night with a couple small wounds on her neck, which look like a bite or a scratch. She held still long enough for me to put a compress on it and make sure she wasn't in any immediate danger, but we're still going to have to keep an eye on her and hope it heals up well.

Meanwhile we're going to have some stir-crazy kitties while they all stay indoors for a bit.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Turtle and Scarves

First off, here's a present I made for a friend who loves sea turtles. Her birthday was back in November, and I ALMOST had this finished in time, but unfortunatelyit didn't get delivered to her until recently.

This was so much fun to make, and now I want to make others in different colors!

Last weekend was an engagement party for some friends of ours. I made them matching scarves. Yes, it's nearly summer here, but the party had been postponed and originally it would have been cold when they received them.

At least our Pacific evenings are still chilly =)

Speaking of scarves, here is one I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas. It's made with Caron's "Country" an acrylic/wool blend, which I had never used before.

And the final scarf for this post is one for me! This is from some beautiful wool yarn that my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas (I won't say which year,) that I made into a scarf in the beginning of winter, and have been enjoying immensely.

Also it seems that I was playing with shallow depth-of-field when I took this picture. Yep, digging into the archives, of which there is plenty that has never been posted.