It is -2 degrees this morning with the wind chill and 20 degrees without it. Either way, too cold for man or beast. The big dogs will stay in their heated kennel today unless it gets well above freezing. Birds have been ravenous after the suet cakes, not so much the seed feeders. I guess they need that extra energy.
The garden is still buried and dormant. Nothing poking its head out of the ground just yet.
With the wind we've had, we woke up to drifts at the back door that are far too deep for a wiener dog. I'll have to shovel a path to a place with less snow just to get them to go outside. I think they are packing to move back to Texas. ;)
Let me start by saying that I have not been paid to write this review, though if you click on the link above and buy it, I might earn a little bit. I just love this book!!
This is one of my favorite books, namely because of this hat pattern, but also because it has so many neat projects that work up quickly as gifts. I made this Pointy Elf Hat for my grandson, Isaac, when he was a baby. Now his mom is requesting a bigger one (toddler size). This one I knitted up in Lionbrand Hometown USA in San Diego Navy. The yarn used in the original pattern is no longer available, but is much nubbier than this and gives a very rustic look (very elfish). The pattern in the book is sized baby to large adult, so anyone can have an elf hat.
The book is divided into chapters by how long it takes to make something--2-4 hours, 4-6 hours, 6-8 hours and more than 8 hour gifts, which helps if you are in a time crunch. There is also a nice section at the end for wrapping home made gifts with home made wrappings and embellishments, plus sources for supplies.
In the less than 2-hour gifts section, you have patterns for a Reusable Hot Coffee-cup Sleeve, Holiday Ornament, Pointy Elf Hat, Pyramid Sachet, Seed-stitch Bracelet, and Linen-stitch Bookmark.
In the 2-4 hour gifts, you have patterns for Soft Baskets (next on my list), Movie Star Scarf (also on my list), Baby Socks (very easy--used it, loved it), Baby Bonnet, Big Lace Scarf, and Family Ribbed Hats (an easy ribbed pattern with sizes for everybody and variations give for different yarns).
The 4-6 hour gift section has Sideways Fingerless Gloves (on my list), Cozy Coasters, Huggable House (sort of a house shaped pillow), Kelly's Mittens, Spiral Seat Cushion and Easy Baby Cardigan (also in the near future-two versions suitable for boy or girl).
The 6-8 hour gifts includes a Beret (which I knitted from Lionbrand baby Alpaca and it turned out beautiful), Kid's Vest, Dreaming of Spring Fingerless Gloves, Very Pretty Lace Scarf, Nesting Squares Baby Blanket/Play Mat, and Cozy, Comfy Pullover (in child's size 2 to men's large or women's 2x large--adding it to my list of things to knit).
More than 8 hour gifts has an Entrelac Baby Blanket, Soft as a Cloud Cowl (three variations), Men's Zip Up Vest, Toe-up Socks, Leah's Lovely Cardigan, and Bright Stripes Blanket.
This has become one of my go-to books for gifts of any kind because of the variety and the estimation of time (very important). Granted, not everyone knits the same, but at least you have an idea of whether it will take a weekend or a week.
I just finished a great class with Craftsy on how to become a professional instructor for crafts of any kind. Gwen Bortner is the instructor and she really knows her stuff. The class was well organized and had very useful handouts, examples of what she uses. She had a lot of good info on how to turn your crafting hobby into a full or part-time career as an instructor. The last lesson was tips for shop owners and it was also very informative for instructors on what to expect or ask for if you are teaching for a shop. I highly recommend this class!!
How to Teach It with Gwen Bortner on Craftsy.Com
I admit I have a hard time throwing away anything that might have some use left in it. People sometimes look askance at what I save, as if maybe I'm some kind of hoarder. However, I always get around to doing something with my little treasures. I sincerely believe that the best way to get 'green' furniture is to take something that might otherwise go to the trash and give it a new lease on life. This was definitely a trash-bound table when I rescued it.
When a friend was moving, she asked if I wanted her old butler style coffee table. The table was a large tray, with four sides that folded up to make it a serving tray. The tray sat on a base with legs at coffee table height, but wasn't attached so you could lift it up easily and use it as a serving tray. I like that concept--dual purpose furniture.
The legs were a wreck, but the top was intact except for a large split across one end. I decided to toss the legs, which were split all to pieces, and salvage the top. This meant taking one end apart so I could glue and clamp to repair the split. It worked well, but the split was too visible to simply restain the top. Enter rescue paint job.
I painted the table red, two coats, then decoupaged the top using two pages from a very old calendar that had some lovely celestial prints in it. I always buy calendars for the potential crafting value--nothing goes to waste around here. I diluted dark brown paint with water and used that as a wash over the whole surface, then followed that with two coats of polyurethane. There are many ways to do painting and decoupage--a little searching online will come up with any number of tutorials, so I'm not going to go into detail here.
For now, I am using an old TV tray as the butler table stand and it sits by my couch. It makes a wonderful end table for the couch, with plenty of room to set coffee cups, books, needlework or anything else I might be working on.
We always fix a big breakfast on the days my husband is off work. Today it was pancakes with blueberry syrup. I had frozen blueberries and just needed to find the right recipe. That proved to be a little harder than expected, so I improvised after reading several different recipes. I always use agave nectar rather than sugar, if possible, and all the recipes I found had either honey or sugar. Every recipe also called for orange juice, which we almost never have because we like the blueberry/pomegranate/cranberry 100% juice mixes, organic if we can find it. We always have that. So after a little cogitating, here is what I came up with. It was just enough for the two of us plus a little left over for ice cream topping or something equally yummy.
1.5 cups frozen (or fresh) blueberries
2/3 cup cranberry/blueberry/blackberry 100% juice mix (divided)
3 tablespoons organic agave nectar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix the 1.5 c. blueberries, 1/3 c. juice (reserve 1/3 c.), and 3 T agave nectar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Mix the reserved 1/3 c. juice with 1 T cornstarch and 1 tsp vanilla extract and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Stir into blueberries and stir until sauce thickens. Serve warm over pancakes or waffles. It would also make a good topping for cheesecake, ice cream, pound cake--just about anything. Makes about 1.5 cups of sauce.
When I lived in Olympia, Wa, the landscaping in my yard included blueberry bushes. I would pick them, wash them, and freeze them whole on a cookie sheet, then put in a freezer bag or container and store in the freezer. I could easily measure out a cup as needed for cooking or snacking and those were bar none the best blueberries I've ever eaten. Edible landscaping is such a good idea!!
I admit, I am a packrat. I try not to let it get too out of hand, but I have a hard time getting rid of something when I can look at it and see how it can be used in another way. If I can recycle things, or donate to a good cause, I will. But I just have a hard time throwing perfectly good, but no longer needed, things away. And that happens constantly. My husband has just learned to live with it, bless him, but I do try to keep everything in plastic totes in one closet.
My oldest son and I were very involved in biking, both mountain and road, when he was in high school. I continued after both boys had left the nest and it became the center of my social life (I was single then). Every biking event we participated in or volunteered for gave us a t-shirt. So I had a pile of t-shirts that had memories attached to them and most didn't fit any more (sadly). What to do with all those t-shirts? Why, make a t-shirt quilt, of course.
I backed it with a piece of dark grey fleece (because my son likes gray), in part because it is 90 miles to the nearest fabric store and I could buy fleece locally. Fleece is also quite snuggly and I was intending this to be an easy care, lap robe type of quilt-something to snuggle under in the recliner.
I then stitched around parts of each block, about 1/4" from the image, with a running stitch using 3 strands of embroidery floss. Not fancy, but durable for a single guy. I chose colors of floss to match colors in the design. I also added some novelty buttons, just for fun.
I used a purchased blanket binding in black and stitched it to the quilt using this method, which made it super easy to make mitered corners, even for a rank beginner like me. I hand stitched the back side of the quilt binding.
I am quite pleased with the results, however, there are some things I would do differently.
I am a maker--crafts, DIY, garden, upcycling, instructional design--I am always designing and making something, be it a new recipe, new knitting pattern, a class for compliance training or landscaping a flower bed.
I am also a collector and curator of vast amounts of information that interests or inspires me. I have a growing collection of DIY, crafts, and recipes on Pinterest.
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