Wednesday, February 29, 2012

60/366: Crochet A Long Week Two

Week Two of the Bernat Crochet-a-Long is complete!  There is still time to join, as all the clues are posted here.

This was an interesting octagon.  The flower in the center is a bit raised, kind of cool.  A couple folks dropped out because they don't like flowers and some because it was just too hard.  The new clue we got today, looks even more confusing.

Tomorrow, I am starting Micro March.  All month, I'm going to feature macro/micro photography.  My Nikon calls it a Micro lens.  Canon calls it a Macro lens.

Since I am a Nikon girl (now), it's Micro March.

After a slew of emails and a return, I got my Micro lens for Christmas and haven't really had the opportunity to play with it as much as I have wanted. 

Micro March...tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

59/366: The Babette

Because I am loony.

Because if my hands aren't busy, I fall asleep on the couch.

And because my Big Boy needs some mommy hooking love.  Do you remember how depressing it was to have to go back to school after a week long break?  Torturous.

Because I spent most of Saturday cleaning Little Man's room and had in turn ignored Big Boy's room.

And because I love him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

58/366: Sausage Stuffing

Last night at dinner, we were discussing how gluten free bread really isn't bread at all.

At least that is how gluten free bread used to be.  So much has changed in 9 years. 

Including stuffing.  Grainless Baker has dry bread cubes for stuffing.  Although most GF bread is hard enough without baking them, these are a great and easy way to go.

I made this recipe from Ina Garten.  The spicy sausage was fantastic!  The apples were still crisp and the mix of crunch and chew from the dried cranberries was perfect.  I think it was the best gluten free stuffing yet.

That Contessa surely knows her stuff.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

56/366: Spring Cleaning

Lately, I've been doing a lot of organizing. It started in my studio (aka basement) a month ago.

I filled my shopping cart with totes and boxes and hooks. I loved how everything fit and looked nice. I only need seven more shelves!

So this morning it was Little Man's closet. Yes, just the closet. This is why:

I took most everything out of the closet.
Filled a very large contractors size garbage bag of crap. Parts of toys long gone, pieces of games never played and all those single socks I had been unable to match up.

Two hours into it, I realized the room itself needed to be dealt with since the items that should be in the closet and hadn't fit, need to fine a home.

Another two hours and this boy has a very clean closet with room to read AND a nicely cleaned and dusted room. I also moved his bed to the other side of the room for some variety.

My kids have a thing about hanging out in the closet and reading. You may see part of the big red armrest pillow already on the floor at the bottom of the picture. I totally get it, too. Nothing like a cozy nook to read in.

Unfortunately, much of the items I pulled from his closet were booked and photos of mine.

Next up, the hall closet and bookshelf!

Hope you are having a productive and enjoyable Saturday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

55/366: {this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

54/366: Ram Das

"Concepts exist and then they are clothed with words and the clothing closet is not open."

Working at home is not easy.  It is filled with quiet days and lonliness.  Many people tell me how lucky I am. 

I agree. 

Most of the time.

It's hard to feel a part of the group.  There is something about background noise from people working that I miss.

In order to combat this, I play Netflix.

Usually, it is something boring that is more background noise than anything.  Documentaries are the best to work with.

Today, I have Ram Das: Fierce Grace. 
  • Synopsis: Once a symbol of '60s counterculture and psychedelic drug use, Ram Dass has since become a renowned speaker and author on the topics of aging, spirituality, and overcoming the mistakes of the past. This documentary chronicles his journey from his affiliations with LSD advocate Timothy Leary to his endeavor to continue remaking himself after his stroke in 1997.
The quote above caught my attention.  I had to play it back to understand.

"Concepts exist and then they are clothed with words and the clothing closet is not open."
It makes me understand the affects of stroke on speech more so than anything I have ever known.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

53/366: Mystery Crochet Afghan

February and March are always so dull for me.  In an attempt to pump up the energy, I have joined a Crochet A Long.  I know, many of you will think of me as a nerd that gets more energy from yarn and crochet.

Nerds Unite!

Each Wednesday at 10:30 A.M., a new clue is released for this afghan.  The only thing we knew in the beginning was how much yarn to purchase.  The first week, was to make 12 squares in certain colors.

I believe the best part of this is the community that has grown to nearly 200 men and women (yes, men) on Facebook that chat about the clue, yarn, addiction to knitting and crochet. 
I have one other color in my group that is a dark brown.  I'm hoping this fits nicely into my "eclectic" living room (mish mash is perhaps a better word).

Stay tuned for the weekly reveal of the new squares, hexagon, what ever shape they put forth.

Hook On!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

51/366: Last Year this Day

Happy President's Day!

Because I am working and the boys are home, I'm going to pretend I had time to make these cute little guys today.

Pretend with me?

Here is the link to the original post and links to the directions.  They are super cute.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

50/366: Sunday Texture

Sunday's are one of my favorite days. Second only to Saturday.

Tom is working, the little ones and I are just chilling out. My most favorite of Sunday activities. I did a couple errands in my pjs this morning, made banana bread with chia flour (yum), and am working on my last 4 squares for the Crochet-A-Long and watching the Sabres hockey game.

It's a good day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

49/366: Yarny Future

Remember this big ball of Alpaca?

I purchased it in 2007.

Wound it into a ball on Feb. 4, 2011.

Yesterday, I started a scarf with it.  It was the yarn I had planned for my black coat back in 2007.

My coat is now navy blue (different coat, not a color shifting coat).

I'm liking it.  I started it on the flight to Chicago yesterday morning, and worked on it on the way home while the girl next to me shifted every 42 seconds.

I perhaps had a few too many at our Anniversary work party...because I somehow turned my corner half the width of my scarf.  The worst part of that, I didn't realize it until I had completed two ADDITIONAL rows. 

Yup.  Drinking and Hooking don't mix.

If I were still drunk, I'd think drinking and hooking do mix.  Just not THAT kind of hooking.  The kind with the yarn and a crochet hook.

Can you hear me better when I type in CAPS?

I fixed the scarf on the flight, shifted myself a dozen times just to mess with my neighbor, then turned the reading light out for a bit of shut eye before landing.

It was a great day, despite my feet having an all out civil war with my shoes.  The feet are still healing and the shoes are laughing their heels off.

I'm punchy tired, can you tell?

Friday, February 17, 2012

48/366: Chiquita Chicago

I had planned on a sentimental post about Chicago and the amazing company and people I work for as we celebrate our 10th Anniversary.

But then, I saw this.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

47/377: Searching For...

Anyone know where I can locate something like this? I thought life got easier as the kids got bigger?

I feel like I am stuck in limbo. That place where I am waiting for something else to happen, but the stress continues to grow. Anyone with me on this?

My boys are in 'gun' mode again. Unfortunately, as with thumb sucking, I can't quite remove their fingers (aka Blaster Gun). They have even drawn with marker on their fingers the special features of such Blaster Gun. I understand boys will be boys and boys are fascinated with guns and artillery and the K word that is as forbidden in our home as the worst swear words.

Today, I am taking the boys to visit the FBI Headquarters with Sam's Cub Scout Den. And the leader mentioned that we will be going in the "gun vault".


Bang Bang.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

46/366: Children's Artwork into Plushies

If you are like this mom, you get plenty of drawings of monsters and dragons and turtles and Star Wars battles.

Monday night, yes, the eve of Valentine's day, I was hopping from toy store to toy store in search of plush turtles.  My boys have a fondness for those turtles, even though their father recently shared the 'turtles have bacteria' information.  Now, you say "turtle" and they say "bacteria".  Kind of like a football cheer.

When I realized the turtle plushie market had been tapped in this area, my mind began doing what my mind does often.  It starts to roll and build and imagine.  It's like a snowball going down a mountain, with me inside.  Sometimes, I just can't help myself.  And besides, I'm the world's second best procrastinator behind my Dad.  Thoughts of turtles, small, pillow like, maybe puppet?  No, too hard.  Crochet?  Could I make enough crochet hexagons?  No.  Felt?  Do I have enough?  I do have the leftovers from Christmas plus that fleece.  Stop.  Shop at lunch tomorrow.  Decided.  I will buy them something.

I was cleaning up my studio (aka basement) and found some half done monster purses.  One was a purse that was just too big and clumsy.  I had reworked the handles twice and it still hadn't sold.  I had been thinking that it would be a cute pillow.  So, I rolled some batting I had to see what it would look like. 

Big Boy wanted it.  That is when the light bulb turned on.  That is the gift!  I'll make him a monster pillow.  I talked him into making his own drawing and we would work on them tomorrow when they got home from school.  BB spent a long time working on his picture.  Labeling all the colors, many, many colors.  Little Man got in on the fun and was drawing Darth Vader and light sabers (ugh) and I complemented him on it, because that is what Mom's do.  Creativity shall never be negative.

Once Little Man saw what BB had done, he needed to start over (yeah!).

It feels so good to make something that my boys' came up with.

And, do you think they liked them?  See for yourself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

45/366: Super Friend Valentine Tutorial

Happy Valentine's Day!

Little Man and I made these fun valentines for his class this weekend.

So easy!  I must confess, the idea is not mine, I found it here.  She has templates you print and skip the whole tutorial that follows.

In a nutshell...glue dots are your friend.  So is craft foam.  And self adhesive craft foam glitter stars!

What you need:
Foam sheets (we wanted a bunch of colors, so purchased 6 sheets of different colors)
One pack of self adhesive star stickers in foam (foam on foam stick well)
Glue Dots (don't leave the store without them!)
Suckers, lollipops...what ever you call them.

We included a note with a glue dot on the underside of the cape that was handwritten by Little Man and reduced in size and copied multiple times.

I cut out the capes and Little Man decorated with the stickers (the best part of these stickers is that they didn't have the paper backing...less mess to clean up).

The masks are easy, measure a small strip the circumference of your lolli.  Fold in half and take two angled cuts from the side to the end - this makes the part for the nose and above the nose to look like a mask.

Little Man took a sharpie and made little eye dots on the light colored foam.  For the black foam, we cut up one of the stars and used them as eyes.

Then, the magic of glue dots...stick a dot on your lolli and adhere one end of the mask on half the dot, wrap the mask around the lolli and adhere the other end to the other half of the glue dot.

To attach the cape, I was afraid a whole punch would be too big, allowing the cape to fall, I just pushed the stick through the foam.  Slid the cape up to the underneath of the lolli and pulled the wrapper plastic out a bit, to ensure the cape wouldn't fall.

I love these...they were so easy and fun!

Pin it for next year!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

43/366: Whitney

We all know the famous songs, but this collection of ballads include songs I have never heard.  I wish she could have taken her own words to heart.  Possibly changing the direction of her life from drugs to sobriety.

Shoo Shoo be do!

Highlighting the pink unitard at the 12 minute mark!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

42/366: Saturday Inspiration

The other day, Big Boy came home from school in an awful mood. When I talk to this boy, the story is always truncated in the important parts and exaggerated in the parts that seem incredibly inconsequential to me. Something about Little Man tossing BB's backpack on the bus floor and another couple students swiping it as they were leaving the bus. In the grand scheme of things...I mean it's not like you forgot to file your taxes... But for an 8 year old, it was tragic and the worst thing his brother could have done.

So, after slamming shoes and backpack on the floor, up to his room (his own decision) he went. A bit of frustration tears and back downstairs to get on his shoes and coat.

He was running away.

BB is a very sensitive boy that tries to hide it. I was able to keep him in our family and avert child welfare services asking me why I let him leave the house if I were standing right there.

Sometimes you need to call the boys bluff.

So stick this story in your back pocket so that when you think my life is all fattening food and pretty crafts, you will know I am just a regular gal raising a desperate wannabe runaway.

Friday, February 10, 2012

41/366: {this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

40/366: Yarn Ball

I'm a little bit obsessed with yarn knots. Most people get frustrated when a knot comes out of the skein. Knot me (get it?)

I recently felt the need to pull out an entire sleeve of this baby sweater I am working on. It just felt too big and I wanted to decrease it by one set of stitches. I started pulling it out and although that is liberating, I was left with a pile of very fancy silk bamboo yarn. The first length of yarn, I wound as usual on my thumb and pinky finger with a cross at the palm. I learned this in weaving classes, best for tapestry where you have bits of color at the same time.

Anywho (as my Dad would say), I recently got engrossed in an online discussion of ball winders. I know, riveting. It was to the geek inside of me.

What I learned may have changed my life. Life changers can be small, you know. Don't judge me.

What I learned was the center pull yarn ball, created on ones thumb. No tools. No extra equipment to store. That fancy little thumb.

I watched this You Tube video and tried it with my second length of yarn. Love.

The great part of this is that your ball stays put and doesn't roll all over the living room floor and get caught in wheels of Matchbox cars or get wrapped up with the remote and that dang clip on the back of our portable phone.

Yes, it has changed my life.

Now, of you will excuse me, I have a cupboard of half used skeins of yarn to rewind into cute little balls.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

39/366: Gluten Free Pizza

Being sick does a number on my appetite.

Some moments I'm ravenous.  Other moments, every thing that goes in my stomach causes nausea and stomach pains.

Yesterday, I was so hungry, but the food shelves were lacking in anything gluten free.

I had one Udi's Pizza Crust in the freezer.  It was that, or canned soup.  Not a tough choice.

In my fridge, I had leftover pork loin, BBQ sauce and some canned pineapple.  Onto the pizza it went with a light sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

Udi's makes a find pizza crust.  The middle is a touch chewy, but that could be my baking issue.  I've tried it on a hot pizza stone, a cold pizza stone, on baking sheet, and directly on the rack.  So far, direct on the rack is best, but still a touch chewy in the middle.  The crust is great, the convenience is even better.

Chicken for dinner tonight (again).  I really need to make it to the grocery store for a meat product other than chicken and pork.

Maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

38/366: Seashore

Some days, all I would really like to do is sit on a swing like this and let the ocean breeze blow through my perfectly curled hair (it's a dream, remember?).

Today is one of those days.

This wouldn't be bad, either...

Monday, February 6, 2012

37/366: On the Hook

I was looking back through my posts and noticed something.

I hadn't been showing you the hooky love.

Currently on my favorite Rosewood hook, is a precious little cardigan sweater in Silk Bamboo yarn by Paton's.  I love this yarn.  It is so silky and soft.

Things on my mind:
  • Micro March
  • Crochet Along Blanket (begins Feb. 15th) with Bernat
  • Month of finishing all those works in progress
  • A wedding gift I have yet to construct...I'm still working it out in my head
  • A winter vacation to somewhere warm and sandy with my kids and my husband where we don't worry about money or work or school or fighting....
Anything on your mind?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

36/366: Sweet and Sour Gluten Free Chicken

I love P.F. Chang's Spicy Chicken.

Gluten Free.

Not sure if the recipe is the same (coating) for the gluten version, but the Gluten Free is fabulous.

I needed to recreate.

My first attempt was a basic following of this recipe.

I didn't add as much sugar and baked on a cookie sheet. 

Big Boy said, "This is good, I am going to eat it all."  If you know my kids, they are master 'dealers'.  I have a deal, I'll eat half my chicken and three bites of rice and all my broccoli, deal?

This was a no deal making dinner.  They ate it all.

Tom liked it, too.  Although it wasn't the same as the PF Chang's version, it was still delicious with no crazy food coloring like you get at the Chinese Fast Food places.  And the chicken isn't a tiny morsel surrounded in deep fried cholesterol.

Tonight, I'm making it again.  Yes, a mere three nights after the first.  I am going to switch it up a bit and loosely follow this recipe.

For the gluten free soy sauce, LaChoy makes a lite soy that has no gluten in it.  There may be a cross-contamination issue, but I have no issues with it, and it only calls for a little bit of it.

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and getting ready for a fun evening and the Superbowl Commercials.  Oh, and maybe some football, too!

Friday, February 3, 2012

34/366: {this moment}

Usually no words, but with the not so stellar photo, an explanation would be appropriate.

This is Momma's Boy. He loves talking about video games from the second he awakes to the moment his brain goes to slumber. This morning, I found him on the couch all snuggled up telling me about Mario Galaxy. This is important stuff, people. I secretly took a video of his conversation, I'll need that for later years.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

33/366: School Treat Tutorial

In celebration of Groundhog Day (which is dear to my husband's heart), Little Man and I decided to make the little groundhogs on the graham cracker again.  This is the link to last year's attempt.  This year was much easier and a lot less work.

Box of graham crackers
Brownie Bites (one for each hog)
One tub chocolate frosting
Slivered almonds (last year I used coconut...either work)
Small batch of white icing (powdered sugar, milk, a touch of Karo syrup)
Chocolate rocks (we have no snow in these parts, so we added rocks)

First step is to open up all of your brownie bits and lay them out on waxed paper or parchment.
These would have been fine as is, but I shaped them a bit to make them taller and not as wide.  By the last one, I realized the easiest way was to form a divot in the bottom and push the sides around you fingers.

Next, heat up your frosting so it is soupy.  I put a fork in the bottom of the bites and dipped them just to the sides, leaving the bottom without frosting.

Here is the get the bite on the paper without messing up the frosting, place the tines of a second fork through the fork holding the bite, pulling out the first fork.  You are left with the bite balancing on the convex side of the fork, then slide off on to the paper.

Before the frosting hardens, stick on two slivered almonds for the teeth.  I could do 3 brownies before the frosting started hardening.

Let those sit and prepare your white icing.  You could easily use more cake frosting instead, just warm a batch of it for the snow, set some aside for the eyes.

Lay out your graham crackers (break in half) and start assembly.   Be somewhat quick getting your hogs on the snow, that stuff hardens pretty quickly and it won't give you the stick you need.  Add your stones (if using) at this point.  Preferably by a cute little boy.

Next, I took the remaining chocolate frosting and added some blue and red food coloring to it to make it darker, almost black for the nose.  I put it in a baggie and stuck it in the fridge for a bit, since it was still pretty soupy from the dipping.  Snip off the corner of the baggie and add a nose at the top of the teeth (almonds).  Let that dry a touch and add your eyes.  Again, with a baggie and cold frosting, I added little eyes.  I was having trouble with them leaving a tail of frosting, so I worked them from the nose upward and touched the hog with the bag to stop the flow of icing.  When that icing settles, they look pretty good.

Finally, and this is where I get a little crazy...I added poppy seeds for pupils.  I know, crazy, but it really did finish it off nicely.  Wet fingers on a paper towel and pick up a seed with a finger and press into eyes.


You could do these for Easter and make into rabbits, snowmen, so many ideas.  Super easy and adorable.  Great project for the kids.

Happy Groundhog Day!