Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tweedy Shell Cowl

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Tweedy Shell Cowl

Size I/9-5.5 mm crochet hook
(1) ball Lion Brand Tweed Stripes yarn in color of your choice (I used Woodlands).

I like the Tweed Stripes because it gives the cowl some depth and a nice pattern. I used exactly one ball of yarn, so if you crochet loosely then you might want to grab two balls. You can obviously use any yarn you would like. Tweeds are a bulky (5) yarn, 3 oz, 144 yards, so you would need to adjust hook size for something different.

My cowl turned out about 8 inches wide by 2 feet long. You can adjust the width by adding or subtracting 6 chains in the beginning. Make sure you do it in 6’s so the pattern works out right. Also, you can easily continue with the pattern longer if you want to make a cowl that will wrap twice around your neck.

Begin by chaining 26
Row 1: Single crochet into the second chain from the hook and each chain across. (25 sc)
Row 2-6: chain 1, turn. Sc into each stitch across to the end
Row 7: Chain 1, turn. Sc into the first stitch. *Skip 2 stitches. 5 triple crochet into next stitch. Skip 2 stitches. Sc in next stitch* Repeat from * to the end, ending with a single stitch.
Row 8: Chain 3 (counts as first triple), turn. 2 triple crochet into first stitch (last single from previous row). *Skip 2 stitches. Sc in next stitch (which is top of shell from last row). Skip 2 stitches. 5 triple crochet into the next stitch (Single crochet from previous row).* Continue from * until the end of the row. End with 3 triple crochet into the final stitch.
Row 9: Chain 1, turn. Sc in first stitch (top of last triple from previous row). Skip 2 stitches. 5 triple crochet in next (single stitch from previous row). Skip 2. Sc in next stitch (top of shell)* Repeat * until end of row, stopping with a single chain.
Row 10-35: *Repeat Row 8, repeat Row 9* continuing until row 35 or cowl is the length you desire. Make sure that you end with a repeat of row 8.

Here is a photo to help explain in case you aren't familiar with this pattern:

To bring us back to straight edges & button holes:

Row 37: ch 1, turn. Single crochet in first triple chain from previous row. *HDC in next stitch (triple from previous), double chain in next 3 stitches (triple, sc, triple from previous), hdc in next stitch (triple from previous), and sc in next stitch (triple from previous/top of shell)* Continue from * until the end of row, stopping with a single crochet.
Row 38-39: ch 1, turn. Single crochet across all stitches
Row 40: ch 1, turn. Single crochet across 6 stitches. *Chain 1. Skip next stitch. Single crochet next 5 stitches.* Repeat from * until the end (2 more times)
Row 41: Single crochet across entire piece, in both chains and stitches from previous row.
Row 42: Single crochet across all stitches.
Fasten off and weave in all ends

Fold your new cowl in half and sew your 3 buttons on so they align with the buttonholes.

I hope this pattern makes sense! Please let me know if you have any questions.  
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Asparagus

I love asparagus any way I can get it. But this is by far my favorite ever!! In 2006 I flew out to Salem, Massachusetts to spend Halloween weekend with my (fairy) Godmother. She made this for dinner one night and I've been obsessed ever since.

As with most of my recipes, I don't really have one for this! So I'm winging it. :) You'll need:

(1) Bundle of Asparagus
(3) Tbls butter (more or less)
(1) Tbl garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Turn the oven on to broil. Throw the asparagus into a pot of boiling water and cook until tender. Drain. Melt the butter and mix in the garlic powder. Lay the asparagus out on either a broiler pan or a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on the asparagus. Then pour the garlic butter mixture over the top.

Simply put the pan onto the top rack of the oven until the cheese is melted and slightly crispy in spots. It usually takes only a few minutes.

Serve and enjoy!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away and take Winter with You!!

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It is a cold and wet day on the southeast coast of Virginia.

  It's one of those days where you want something hot to drink and a soft blanket. Instead, I have a desk and school books. It's days like these where I want to make it warm inside. Since homework (and ability) keeps me from whipping out a fresh baked apple pie, I turn to the second best thing. Stovetop potpourri! It makes the house smell warm & cozy inside.

  The ingredients you can chose from are endless, but this is my favorite way. Actually, a friend taught me this trick when I was in my teens as a way of making people think I had made an apple pie rather than picking one up at the market. =]

I like using apples, cinnamon (stick), and some ground allspice. Other things you can use are vanila, oranges (zesting the peel works great!), nutmeg, lemons, or anything else that you love. Start off by cutting up the apples. It doesn't need to be pretty or perfect, just so they're cut up!

Toss the apples and a couple of cinnamon sticks in a pot, then sprinkle allspice over the top of them. Note that you'll be boiling this for quite awhile and it could leave some stains on the pot. So, don't use your brand new set....if you have one! Usually though it will all clean off with some scrubbing.

Fill the pot with some water and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and just let it go!

You can let this simmer away all day if you want, just make sure to add some more water. It will make your home feel so much warmer! Then run to the market and buy an apple pie, your friends will all believe you cooked it when they come over. =]
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordy Wine Bottles

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Here is another fun craft to do with empty wine bottles. If I keep finding crafty things to do with wine bottles, I'm going to have to start drinking more wine! Darn it. =] You will need:

Wine bottle(s) or really any bottle of any size
Glue gun & sticks
Spray paint of your color choice

First, soak your wine bottles in hot soapy water to clean them and remove the labels. Now comes the fun part! Using your glue gun write a word or draw a design on your bottle. I chose to do "Give" on one and "Thanks" on the other in honor of Thanksgiving. I'm going to do another one to go with them and draw leaves on it.

Try to clean up any stray "strings" of glue because they will show up when you spray paint the bottle. I learned this the hard way. 

Also, if you're easily distracted (like me) I would suggest not attempting to carry on a conversation with your husband while doing this. Otherwise you may forget the K in Thanks

If you mess up, don't fear! Just let the glue cool and then peel off the mistake. Now you're ready for spray paint! Don't forget, always spray paint outside. =] Simply spray the bottle in short strokes, keeping the spray paint at least 8" from the bottle. You don't want to get the paint on too thick or it will run. 

Allow the bottle to dry and if needed, apply a second coat of paint. Let it dry completely and you're done! Now you have cute vases with your own words or designs on them. That was easy. And cheap!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crocodile Stitch

I've been teaching myself (through online resources) how to do the crocodile stitch in crochet. I'm in love! It took a little while to figure out, because of the difference in comparison to "normal" stitches. But now that I (kind of) understand it, it is super easy and I love it!

It does take up A LOT of yarn though...and time. =] I was going to make a scarf but now I'm not sure. My husband told me to make a purse. So maybe that's what I'll do. Who knows with me. I just know that I should be spending less time playing around and more time making Christmas presents. I'm trying to have the majority of my holiday gifts be homemade. Either by myself or someone else. Wish me luck, my fingers are already aching from all the recent crocheting I've done! Now, back to my yarn....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Replacement Sour Cream :)

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I have a habit of often forgetting that everyone else doesn't know what I do, this recipe is an example of that. My mum mentioned it in a conversation and I was surprised...I thought everyone did this. :)

I can not give up sour cream, believe me I've tried. It was always my dirty little secret, hidden behind the yogurt and pickles. Until I learned it's easy replacement.

All you need is 1 cup non fat Greek yogurt, 2 TBL light mayo, and 1 tsp lime juice.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl

And mix together well.

You now have a healthy substitute for your sour cream! I use this on Mexican food, my friends use it for their baked potatoes. You can also substitute the sour cream in a dip recipe, just keep in mind that non fat yogurt doesn't hold up as well to baking so your dip may come out watery.

One of the big advantages over substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream is that Greek yogurt is much higher in protein. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hot Chocolate Stir Sticks!

Okay, I believe I said I would have this up Sunday. It's not Sunday. But around my house lately, Tuesday is pretty much the same thing. I'm not sure what we did Sunday, which means it got wasted (my favorite!). I woke to the sound of my husband killing zombies on his Xbox...he calls it training. At some point we must have brushed our hair and gotten dressed because we went to the Olive Garden for soup, salad, and breadsticks. <---Have I ever told you how much I love that? After eating ourselves silly, we stopped by the market and came home. At some point the husband opened me a bottle of red wine and nothing got accomplished after that.

Excuses out of the way. I finally made my hot chocolate stir sticks! I'd seen these forever ago in a magazine and then recently they were circulating around pinterest.

These are really simple to make and doesn't require a lot of direction. But since I took photos, I'm going to tell you anyway. :) I made my stir sticks to go with the hot chocolate mixes I made last week; peppermint and toffee. Then, of course, I had to make some using my homemade sugar sprinkles. So the ingredient list is kind of dependent upon your taste, but you will need:

Chocolate Chips
Straws (small stir type)
Parchment paper

First you need to grind, crush, or somehow break your candies up. What I did was crush them somewhat while they were in the package and then put them into my mortar and pestle.

*Side note* I would like to mention that I am beyond proud of myself for not eating all of the Heath bar (my Fav!). I really just wanted to....YUM!

=] Then I ground them until they were fairly small pieces and transferred everything to bowls. Sorry about the poor(er) photo quality lately, but my 'good' camera died recently. It got balanced on an uneven surface one too many times in an effort to get a photo of us. It's last recorded photo was quite hilarious It was far from funny that day.

At this point I put my chocolate chips in a pan over medium heat to start melting them. Cover a plate with parchment paper. Take your marshmallows and stick the straws into them. Don't worry, they can't feel it.

Once your chocolate is melted, just dip your marshmallows into the chocolate.

Then dip your chocolate covered marshmallow into your topping. I personally found that it was easier to pick up the topping and sprinkle it onto the chocolate marshmallow. Then I dipped the "bottom" in the topping to make sure it was covered. Once covered, simply place your decorated marshmallows onto the parchment paper covered plate.

Now, a couple of notes about the peppermint. (Of course) After I made these I saw chocolate mint candy canes at the store...OH MY GOSH!!! I should have had those. =] Also, I noticed that the peppermint pieces started to stick together after awhile. So I would suggest dipping your marshmallows in them first to avoid this issue.

Also, you don't have to use regular chocolate can use anything you want. Use your imagination and have fun!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Powdered Hot Chocolate Mix #2

Okay, so now you have all of this hot chocolate mix, what are you supposed to do with it? Well, package it up in cute jars and send it to your friends or family, of course!

I just used some scraps of material I had laying around to show you the idea and some leftover Christmas ribbon. Anyone who has spent time at my house is likely to recognize my couch pillows material. Anyone who has attempted to rob me would recognize the material my purse was made from. =] If you are doing these for gifts at the holidays, cute material to match said holiday would be the answer. I printed some quick little labels on our printer (which only has black ink left!) and used my homemade mod podge to put them on. 

The directions to this are obviously simple. Fill a cute container up with hot chocolate mix. The fun part is adding flavors to make it more personalized. My favorite is crushed up peppermint candies.

Simply add a layer of candies around the middle of the jar and fill it the rest of the way up. Another great flavor can come from instant coffee type drinks, such as an instant mocha. Powdered coffee creamers add an extra kick too, my favorite is chocolate toffee.

After that, you simply need to 'decorate' the jar. I cut a piece of material that was slightly larger than the lid. Then I tied it onto the jar using a piece of ribbon. 

I made labels stating the type of flavored hot chocolate that each one was, including a cute little graphic. 

I then wrapped a second ribbon around the top to tie on the directions and a paper with a cute saying

That easily you have cute little gifts for everyone. You can get as creative as you want, or keep them simple like these. Tomorrow I shall be working on their coordinating stir sticks...yummy!

Powdered Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe

There is no more denying it. Winter is creeping up on those of us in the northern hemisphere. Cold weather has either settled in or it's knocking at your back door. Which means it is time for one of my old favorites, hot chocolate. Which my husband and I are drinking while I write this....

And who made the rule that you use mini marshmallows in your hot chocolate? The big ones look like they fit in there just fine, thank you.

Now, as usual you can go purchase hot chocolate at the store. Or you can be crafty and make your own. It's easy, most everything I do is! This is the recipe I use for powdered hot chocolate mix, I like this because you can make a lot ahead of time and it's fun to package and give to people.

2 1/2 cups dry powdered milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 c cocoa
1/4 c 3 Tbl non dairy creamer
1/4 c granulated sugar

Just dump all of the ingredients together in a container and mix them up. I put about 5 heaping tablespoons in a mug and then fill with hot water. You can also use milk if you prefer. Throw some marshmallows on top or (my favorite) stick a candy cane in it. I like watching the candy cane seem to melt and the added flavor is fantastic!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Homemade Mod Podge

I needed some mod podge for a little project I'm doing, but in my cheapness and laziness I did not feel like going to the store to purchase some. I had seen a post on pinterest awhile back about making it at home, so I decided to try it and see if it worked.

All you need is regular school style white glue (like Elmer's) and a container. Fill the container halfway with your glue and the rest of the way with water. Mix them together and bam! You have mod podge. Easy as that...and much easier than driving to the store. 

The homemade mod podge worked fine for my project (that posting to come later), but I'm still not 100% sold on using it for a 'fancier' project. If you're doing basic decoupage or wanting to experiment with it, then go for it. It works great and is a cheap way to learn decoupage. If you're making a fancy project for sale or using heavier or limited (non replaceable) materials, then I may suggest purchasing some. All in all, I found that it worked and would recommend making your own.
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