Crocheted felted nesting bowls

So, I bought this cute pattern on Etsy for crocheted, felted nested bowls. I made bowl #1 (the smallest one) the other day in a nice red worsted weight wool yarn that I let my oldest pick out at AC Moore. Very cute and quick to make. Now, I need to make bowls 2, 3 and 4 and see how they nest.

And here it is after one run through the washing machine. I’m trying to decide if I should run it through a second time. I have a front loader HE machine and it’s not the best felting machine out there (to put it mildly).

(Inside the bowl are cute little wooden acorns from Caseys.)

It didn’t quite turn out as perfectly as it looks in the pattern, but that’s okay! I’m still a very new crocheter.

Speaking of crochet. Check out this totally cute and awesome Valentine’s Day crocheted heart garland on Skip to my Lou.

Birthday Crown for a Friend

A birthday crown for a friend. Created based on the pattern in Amanda Soule’s The Creative Family, with wool felt. I hand-stitched the star on this time. It looks much nicer than my boys’ crowns where I sewed the stars on with my machine.

2009 Aspirations and Ideas

Today is a “sick day” here. Little J woke up last night with a very nasty stomach virus type of deal, and I don’t think you want to hear the details. I know I wish that I didn’t know the details. So, he seems to feel a little bit better this morning. At least he’s not throwing up anymore. I’m exhausted from being up all night with him. I can’t really concentrate on work too well, so I thought I would write this post!

n. Etymology: 1350-1400, Middle English.

  1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
  2. A resolving to do something.
  3. A course of action determined or decided on.

I’m not really one for “resolutions” per se. But, I do think that the beginning of the year is a nice time to sit back and think about some things that you might like to accomplish in the coming months. But I’m not too set upon the idea of them being firm and determined. So, therefore, these are my 2009 Aspirations and Ideas.

Aspiration. n. Etymology: 1375-1425, Middle English

  1. strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition

See, doesn’t aspiration sound better than resolution?

So, I thought I’d write down some ideas that I have been kicking around for awhile just to have them written down and in the front of my mind. Somehow writing something down is different than just thinking about it. I’m separating them into General Life things and Crafty things.

Crafty Aspirations and Ideas

  1. Take a knitting class!
  2. Explore woodworking more. I want to make more little wood animals, figure out how to paint them, woodburn on them, etc.
  3. Make more gnomes. I want to branch out from typical gnomes into pirates, knights, and astronauts.
  4. Use that Timtex sitting in my craft closet. I’d like to make a little felt mushroom house for the gnomes.
  5. Use Mod-Podge. I don’t know for what, I just want to make something! Here are some Mod-Podge tips.
  6. Make a quilt. Not a huge quilt, just a little lap sized quilt. I haven’t completed a quilt since the one that I made for my first which was over six years ago! I have some blocks created (disappearing nine patch), but nothing really moving forward. I want to work on something in that regard.

General Life: Aspirations and Ideas

  1. Go camping twice this summer. We have plans to go camping with our friends and their boys again. We are going back to the same place we went last year that we loved, and we are also thinking of going to Lily Bay State Park on Moosehead Lake in the Maine North Woods. I think we need a new tent though before that happens. We have an awesome LL Bean tent, but it doesn’t quite fit 2 adults and 2 kids very comfortably. You know when a tent says, “sleeps 4-6” that really means “sleeps 2-3” in my opinion.
  2. Take the boys hiking in Acadia National Park. It’s close enough to do a long day-trip, or we might even do an overnight or two. We’ll see. I was there last fall and I bought an annual pass for the sole purpose of taking the boys this spring/summer/fall!
  3. Take the boys to the local art museum for the Saturday morning children’s hour. We have an awesome art museum here in town that we’ve never been to. I’ve been thinking of taking the boys to their Saturday morning children’s hour forever, but we’ve never done it. I am resolved to do that sometime soon!
  4. Visit the local public library more often. The boys love the library and we don’t make the time to go there often enough!
  5. Clean and organize my office. It still has boxes in there from when we moved! It is going to be a huge project, because it’s more an issue of organization than just sole cleaning. But, that is something that I really want to do.
  6. Expand our vegetable garden. We created a few Square Foot Gardening plots last year. We want to make more! Hubby and I need to sit down soon and think about what we want to plant this year. There were some things we planted last year that we don’t want to do again, and some things we didn’t plant that we want to try. Also, we are going to get started a little bit earlier. We started a bit late last year because we were building the boxes. For example, our spinach didn’t do well at all, but it was because it was planted too late. It really likes that early spring weather.
  7. Try out at least one new dinner recipe each month. I’m so busy with work and the kids, that I tend to fall back on old standbys for dinner every night. I guess I should feel lucky to get dinner on the table at all! (Last night was “breakfast for dinner,” scrambled eggs, bacon and toast.) But, I get all these great cooking magazine! I want to try out at least one new dinner each month. That doesn’t seem like too lofty of a goal.
  8. Be more social. It’s so easy to get into your little routine (aka “rut”) and go about your business. We’ve lived here over a year now and it’s time to get out! We now have a great babysitter, and I want to be more proactive inviting other families over for dinner, going out to dinner with new friends, etc. New friends don’t become old friends unless you work at it!
  9. Figure out how to better incorporate some music in our house. I have a friend who has marvelous whole-house music (well, it’s almost whole-house), and she even has it set up with her I-pod somehow and can set up playlists on I-Tunes that she then plays in the house. I don’t know. I’m not too savvy that way, I just love being in her house! So, that is an aspiration of mine that I will assign to the hubby.
  10. Work on settling into our new house. We’ve lived here over a year, and we still haven’t hung pictures and done some things that I would like to do (paint the lavender bathroom). So, I want to work on that a little at a time. I’ve finally ordered a new slip cover for our ugly living room sofa! So, I’m on the road with that one.

So, what do you think? Am I overly ambitious? Since they aren’t resolutions and are just aspirations, I think I’m okay. I don’t need to accomplish them all!

Playsilk Rainbow Canopy

So, I’ve seen these playsilks dyed in rainbow colors. I’ve read various ideas about how to achieve that, and most involved separating like you do with tie-dye, dipping into various colors, etc. Actually, here is a pretty awesome photo tutorial for making one by laying it out and spooning the dye on. It looks great and the tutorial makes it look so easy. I might have to try it.

In any case, since I really like my method with Kool-Aid and the microwave, I was thinking about how could I get a big rainbow playsilk using the microwave/Kool-Aid way. So, I bought three of the 14 x 72 inch silk scarves (Habotai silk, 8mm) from Dharma Trading. My plan was to dye each one separately and then sew them together. It worked marvelously! Woo-hoo! An idea that works! Dyeing takes about 5 active minutes, and sewing the three together took me about 10 minutes.

I only bought three, so I did the “Green, Blue, Indigo/Violet” part of ROY-G-BIV. Since this little experiment has worked, I’m going to be buying some more to do the ROY (Red, Orange, Yellow). I may need to play around with the yellow a bit since last time I used lemonade, it didn’t turn out very yellow, more like cream. Someone suggested adding a few drops of yellow food coloring to the lemonade. Hmmm….might have to buy some little 11 x 11 inch ones to do some test colors on. A lot of people buy acid dyes from Dharma and use those to dye their playsilks. I’m sure I will have to try that one day. The colors are a lot more vibrant. But, for now, I’m happy with my Kool-Aid.

I ran out of Grape Kool-Aid, and J was helping me and wanted to do it right now and not wait for me to go to the store another day, so we created purple using Cherry and Ice Blue Lemonade. Works great! And the boys loved watching the red and blue mix together to make purple! I’ve actually done a side-by-side comparison of a Cherry/Ice Blue mixture compared to just Grape, and they are almost exactly the same color.

I used 3 packets of Lemon-Lime for the Green, 3 packets of Ice Blue Lemonade Twisters for the blue, and 2 packets Cherry/2 packets Ice Blue Lemonade for the purple.

The boys love to turn their bunk beds into a “fort”, which was the impetus for this little project. They were so excited when they got home from school and I had it hanging up! (Ignore J’s unmade bed there…)

Bird watching

The birds have been having a field day at our bird feeders recently. I just love watching them. We have a little weeping sort of tree in our front yard. I don’t know what it is. But, yesterday it was full of big, fat robins eating the winter berries on the tree. I was excited because I saw a bird that I’ve never seen before. So, I rushed to my Birds of Maine Field Guide book and was able to identify it rather quickly (it thankfully came back a few times so I could reference). A cedar waxwing. Cool! And if you live in Maine, this little pocket book is awesome.

From Stan’s Notes: “The name is derived from its red wax-like wing tips and preference for eating small blueberry-like cones of the cedar. Mostly seen in flocks, moving from area to area, looking for berries. Wanders in winter to find available food supplies. Seen more often in winter because naked branches reveal its presence.”

Little books

I love these little books from Glittergoods. I started making them for my boys after I saw someone post about them on a forum sometime last fall. The boys love them and they are so easy to make. I make them in two sizes. One which takes a whole 8.5×11 piece of cardstock and folds it in half, and the other which is half of that, which cuts the cardstock in half (8.5×5.5) and then folds in half. I’m all about making minimum paper cuts! I have tons of scrapbooking supplies which makes quick work of cutting the cardstock and paper. I have actually been using old company letterhead for the inside pages (heck, it’s even recycling!) but that is almost gone, so I’ll have to start using printer paper or something else soon.

The tutorial on Glittergoods is great and really no further explanation is necessary. These books are good for just about anything. I like to choose light colored cardstock for the covers since then the boys can draw on the cover for their story. Sometimes the boys help me make them by choosing the cardstock colors and the embroidery floss binding color that they want for their books. I usually make these in an assembly line process and make a bunch at one time so that the boys always have some available for their creative endeavors.

They were also a perfect addition to the art boxes that I made for the cousins’ Christmas gifts! They fit perfectly into the totes, and I got to use some pink cardstock, LOL.

Oh, and I just have to share the wrapped version of the art box. The fabric is a blank playsilk, 30×30, that I got from Dharma Trading and then dyed with grape Kool-Aid. Then, I used the furoshiki wrapping techniques to wrap up the art box. I was so proud of it, LOL. Not just fabric, but a playsilk! I talked about dyeing playsilks at this post.

A New Years Day Munchie Meal

We are sitting around watching football today. It is very cold outside (9 degrees, 40mph wind gusts anyone?). So, nice to sit inside on a sunny day and eat some yummy food. Hubby is crazy and has decided to make ribs outside on the charcoal grill. I, on the other hand, am making stuff in the oven. Which seems much more sensible on such a blustery day.

Our hanging around the house, watching football, snacking all day, New Years Day meal:

1. Aunt Michele’s meatballs
2. Spinach-Artichoke Dip with crackers
3. Cheese/crackers – Brie, Manchego and maybe some cheddar
4. Ribs – 4 ways
5. Maine shrimp, steamed in Old Bay, served cold with cocktail sauce

I think I might make some brownies for later. We need something sweet, although I do have to admit to eating my fare share of yummy chocolate in the last two weeks. So, *need* is probably relative.

Aunt Michele’s Meatballs

2 cans of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup
2 cans of jellied cranberry sauce
Frozen cocktail meatballs

Mix all together in the crock pot, and heat on high for 2 hours, or until heated through. Turn down to low and simmer all day while you snack.

I know it sounds kind of gross, but they are awesome and amazing. We like to serve these for all-day snacking, keeping warm in the crock pot, but they also make a good dinner, served over egg noodles.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

2 8.5oz cans of quartered artichoke hearts, chopped in small chunks
1 box of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 cups of mayonnaise
2 cups of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 Tbsp. hot sauce

Mix all together and cook in a 350 degree oven, uncovered, for about 20-30 minutes, until heated through and starting to brown on top. Serve with crackers, pita chips, baguette, etc.

Ribs, 4-ways

Hubby took 2 racks of baby back ribs, and decided to have a little experiment. He cut them in half, and is making them four different ways, so we can have a little New Year’s rib taste test.

1. Our original dry rub
2. Dry rub mixed with some cider vinegar, water, some sugar
3. Hoison sauce with some Chinese 5-Spice Powder rubbed into the ribs
4. A traditional wet rub with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce

Yum, yum! I can’t wait to taste test. Hubby has them smoking outside on the charcoal grill. Will update with taste test results later.

Maine Shrimp

Hubby just boiled these up yesterday, in the shell, with some water and Old Bay. Our oldest loves shrimp, and Maine shrimp are so sweet and delicious. Seasons starts in early December, and goes through winter, so you get them while you can! I make my own cocktail sauce by just mixing ketchup with fresh horseradish. That way, we can make some milder sauce for K, and some spicy sauce for us. I’m sure there are fancier cocktail sauce recipes out there, but it works for us.

Meredith’s Brownies

These are my favorite brownies. Dense and chewy. Recipe courtesy of my best friend, Meredith, many many years ago. Not sure where it came from originally. I’ll have to ask her.

2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate
½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1-1/3 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, microwave chocolate and butter. Cut up chocolate and butter into coarse chunks for best results. Microwave for about one minute, stir, and continue to microwave until chocolate is melted. Be very careful because the chocolate can easily burn if left too long in the microwave.

Beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla until lightened in color (on high for a few minutes). Stir in melted chocolate mixture. Make sure chocolate is fully melted. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt until well blended. Stir in corn syrup and walnuts by hand.

Pour brownie mix into an 8×8 metal pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (They cook better in a metal pan than a glass pan.) Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes (until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). Cool in pan before cutting and serving. (25 minutes for gooey in the center brownies.)