Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Next stop - sleeves!

Check me out: I'm a knitter of sweaters.

Well, knitter of toddler sized vests, but I think it still counts.

The pattern is from the Vogue Knitting on the Go: Vests book that my CASP sent me. I used a red, 100% cotton yarn on US size 6 needles, which were also from my CASP.

In true cheap @$$ fashion, I bought the yarn at the mill end shop across the street from my house - total cost for this project (and whatever I make from the 200+ yards I have left): $6.

It is basically just two stockinette rectangles sewn together, but I'm still pretty impressed with myself. I'm no longer intimidated at the thought of knitting actual garments rather than just accessories.

The scariest bit was shrinking. This shrank up about 20% in length which was kind of a lot. Gauge swatch or no, the fact that I ended up with the measurements I intended was a pleasant surprise.

The shrinking was key for future laundering options. I like the idea of a toddler sweater being something that you can throw in the washer and dryer, particularly this sweater with the handy pocket for storing cheerios and goldfish crackers and leaves and dirt and whatever other important toddler things need storing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gotta get out of bed, get a hammer and a nail...

...hang cool new stuff on my wall.

First up, Glitter Mads.

Glitter Mads or Sparkle Maddie - I keep changing my mind about which I prefer - was a Christmas present from my friend Liz.

My Dad took this picture of Maddie, jumping up and demanding to be in the photo like the diva that she is:

Then Angela from glitterpaintings made it sparklier. I like sparkly.

If you like sparkly too, you should definitely check out her etsy shop. She has pictures and ornaments and buttons and good things for sale and she also does commissions. (We have established that I'm not the greatest photographer. You should see this in real life - so great)

In light of the wave of baby showers Em has been planning, I can't help but think this would be a really fun way to preserve ultrasound pictures for little princesses-to-be. My understanding is that those little printouts from the doctor can fade over time, but sparkly - sparkly is forever.

I also framed the theorem painting that my fantastic Cheap @$$ Secret Pal made for me. In the spirit of Cheap @$$ness, the frame was rescued from the garbage.

My aunt sent me this cute frame with a space for your puppy's picture on one side and a list of "beagle rules" on the other. Unfortunately, the wood part of the frame had come apart in the corners during shipping.

So I took out the poem and used it for a scrapbook layout in Maddie's puppy album. If you can't read the poem from the photo, the list of rules basically becomes increasingly lax until the dog rules the house. Which is more or less the agreement Maddie and I have come to.

I like the layout - I think Maddie looks particularly sassy in the picture as she jumps all over the furniture - but I may have been a little rash in my dismissal of the frame. (Or else I was just in a scrapbooking mood that day - who knows)
The finish on the frame still looked good, so I glued the pieces back together and recut the mat for the theorem painting. Conveniently, the mat is the same color as the blueberries. Personally, I think it looks pretty good hanging up over my stove.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Baby Shower Recap - THEME does NOT mean Elmo or Clowns!

Ok. So I am a blogcrastonator. The child in the previous Baby Shower invitation post is now a college junior.

But my event hints are still timely. Using the invitation as our theme, here are some party highlights.

The shower was in a building with many doors so I made one sign to denote the door and one to mark the parking lot. I used the stamp from the invitation, then enlarged it on the photocopier. Unless you are a top-of-the-line colorer, I suggest coloring your image after enlarging it rather than before. I used a full 12x12 sheet of the invitation cardstock for the background, assembled with clear contact paper for weatherability. A vital must-do in the Midwest. The "post" is half a curtain rod purchased from the dollar store. Metal rods slip over each other so there is a fine metal point on the ground side; no fears of frozen ground. The wall bracket on the top allows for festive ribbons to be easily tied on. As this is from the dollar store, I do not recommend it for tornado-like conditions.

Each of the interior doors had a wreath. This was cuter "live" than photographed. The ribbon is blue and white gingham.

Each table had a white paper cloth for economics. The tables were then topped with a blue gingham table runner (buy the fabric on sale, take pinking shears to "finish" the edges). I floated blue hydrangeas.

Prizes - plain white kraft bags with the carriage stamp on each of them.

Favors - so cute! Chocolate making is not as easy as one might think so ignore the little edges where I overfilled the mold.

These little touches tied the entire event together. And adding some "highlight" items greatly reduces your overall cost. For example, the fabric for the runners was $8.00. But it allowed for us to use plain tableware versus printed. A napkin is a napkin is a napkin, but solid colors are half the cost of printed. We saved $12 on plates alone. White table cloths are 1/3 of the price of colors, etc.

Happy Party! My next shower will be pink! Details to follow.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cranberry Orange Muffin Cage Match

Tonight on PayPerView: two muffins attempt to use up the orange juice in my refrigerator, but only one will become the Ultimate Fighting Champion.

(Note: Sarah is allergic to oranges, but occasionally does silly things like buy orange juice. These recipes are both variations on ones found in The Joy of Cooking. I find that baked goods are easier to share with friends and coworkers than half a bottle of OJ and less likely to give me hives than the other half of the bottle of OJ)

In the dairy corner wearing the blue paper baking cup, we have the reigning muffin champion: Orange Cranberry! Initially known as "Orange Quick Bread with Dried Cranberries and Pecans", this fighter has changed up his look to accomodate the ingredients I actually have (hint: no pecans).

Ladies and gentlemen! preheat your ovens to 350 degrees and give it up for Orange Cranberry!

Dry ingredients: 1.5 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder

Wet ingredients: 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup orange juice

Beat together 6T butter, 2/3 cup sugar* and 2 eggs. Gradually add in remaining dry and wet ingredients (alternating is fun).

Fold in 2/3 cup dried cranberries*. Spoon into greased muffin pan and bake until done. This weekend I was feeling mini-muffin, which took about 14 minutes.

The betting report: Milk and orange juice? Wasn't that the cocktail Winona Ryder initially suggested to take down a Heather? gross. But it seems to work in muffins. Not very orange-y without the addition of some citrus zest, but Sarah doesn't have any oranges or lemons in the house. Still a tasty muffin, Orange Cranberry is scrappy and could pull it out in the third round. Also, Vegas is giving 8:1 odds that Sarah gets scurvy.

Which brings us to the challenger: In the non-dairy corner, wearing the pale pink paper baking cup it's Orange Cranberry! It's a bold move stealing Orange Cranberry's nickname like that, let's see if it pays off for Orange Cranberry.

In his early days as a street fighter, Orange Cranberry was known as "Ultra-Orange Vegan Cake." But this isn't a street fight ladies and gentleman, let's see just how Ultra-Orange this fresh-faced muffin really is.

Set your ovens to 350 and put your hands together for Orange Cranberry!

Dry ingredients: 1.5 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar*, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt
Wet ingredients: 1 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Combine the dry ingredients, add the vinegar and the remaining wet ingredients. Fold in 2/3 cup cranberries* and spoon into greased muffin pan. Bake until done. The last time I made these, we went regular size muffin and it took about 20 minutes.

The betting report: No dairy products at all, you can see the challenger is trying to appeal to the vegans in the crowd. Vegas betters are discounting the "Ultra-Orange" reputation of this competitor due to Sarah constantly leaving out the orange zest. The odds are stacked against him, but that could pay off big for a gambler willing to take a chance on this one.

The Winner!
After 5 grueling rounds we have a winner. Though both muffins were delicious, there can only be one Ultimate Fighting Champion!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Ladies and gentleman, I give you our new champion: Orange Cranberry. Though both muffins were feeling the loss of the orange zest, the vegan muffin still tasted orange-y. This ultimately proved to be the downfall for the dairy muffin.

(Note: Assuming you don't have any dietary restrictions, I would still recommend either recipe. You can make your choices based on what you have on hand. If you are actually planning ahead, buy an actual orange and add the zest to either recipe.)

*I tend to eyeball a quantity of sugar somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 cups. You can use a bit more or a bit less depending on how sweet you like your mufins. All cranberry measurements are approximate and usually determined by how many Craisins I already ate out of the bag.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Must. Buy. Batteries.

Sorry for the lack of posts of late, but I have all kinds of excuses. Many of which are even legitmate.

Excuse #1: I need to buy batteries for my camera. So no photos until I take care of that.

Ultimately, that's not such a big deal because,

Excuse #2: I've had out of town guests and an extra puppy at my house. So, not really all that much craftiness to report.

I could go on, but instead, I'll show you other people's craftiness.

How fantastic is this? Amy over at angry chicken made these Aunt Sarah Dolls:

Your actual head on a doll. I love it. I hope the original Aunt Sarah doesn't mind me using her picture. But one of these days I'm going to be an Aunt Sarah too, so I hope she understands my excitement. There are even instructions to make your own, so I'm definitely filing this away for future use.

We should be back to our regularly scheduled blogging soon though. Maybe Emily will post something in the interim.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Um, how about red?

I thought I would have finished pink things to show you this week, but not so much. I do have some new red things, so hopefully you aren't all that particular about color.

The actual knitting of my pink scarf went so quickly, I was not prepared for the fringe to be anything but a formality. Boy was I wrong.

I have these pretty little pink beads that I thought would add some interest to the ends of the scarf. But, stringing the little suckers is kind of a pain.

On my prototype fringe, I decided I liked the look of one beaded strand among several unadorned strands (not sure why the photo came out so green). This cuts down on the beading a little, but I'm still hoping that elves will come in at night and finish this up for me.

So far, I have beaded enough strands for one side of the scarf but haven't attached any since the prototype. And there's still no sign of the elves.

As a distraction, I've started working on a baby vest - my first non-accessory! - and have completed the back. In theory, it should a fit a 2 year old. In practice, it would fit a fifth grader. It is 100% cotton yarn, and I'm really hoping that this will shrink in a similar fashion. I guess time will tell. Maybe the elves can do something about my gauge when the are done with the fringe...

Friday, January 05, 2007


New Year! New Projects!

This is a preview of a short row scarf I've been working on using some beautiful pink yarn that my cheap @$$ secret pal sent me.

I probably would have finished it already, but a run in with the flu earlier this week stalled out my big plans for fringe. (But being sick did facilitate a Gilmore Girls marathon, so it's not a total loss)