Friday, June 28, 2013

Easy Baby Sweater and Hat



After searching and attempting to create the perfect - and quick/easy - baby sweater to give as a gift, I finally just combined a few to make the one I wanted. This particular one is more what I would envision for a girl (regardless of color) because of the lacy pattern created with the shells. My next step to find/create one for a boy. This one is simple enough to work up quickly. I only have a few hours of crochet time at night and I completed the set within 3 days. I imagine if you had half a day you could easily finish it in one setting, depending on your skill level.

Sweater

Materials:
  • 3-4 ounces 3 ply baby yarn 
  • Hook -
    • size F for newborn 
    • size G for 3 to 6 months
    • size H (and 4 ply soft yarn) for 6 to 9 months
  • 2-3 button for closure

Pattern:

(Shell = 2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc)

Starting at neckline, loosely ch 38.

Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook & in each ch to end. (37 stitches)

Row 2: ch 2, turn (counts as 1st dc throughout) 1 dc in each of the next 4 stitch, (3 dc in next stitch- (increase made = dc inc), 1 dc in each of the next 7 stitch, dc inc., 1 dc in each of the next 9 stitch, dc inc., 1 dc in each of the next 7 stitch, dc inc., 1 dc in each of the last 5 stitch. (45 stitches)

Row 3: ch 1, turn. sc in each stitch, with increases of 3 sc - (sc inc. made) in the middle dc inc. (53 stitches)

Row 4: ch 2, Turn. dc in each stitch, with increases of 3 dc in the middle sc inc. (61 stitches)

Row 5-9: Repeat rows 3 & 4, ending with row 3. (Row 9 totals 101 stitches)

Row 10: ch 1, turn. sc in first 13 stitch, skip 24 stitch, (1st armhole made) sc in next 27 stitch, skip 24 (2nd armhole made) sc in last 13 stitch.

Row 11: ch 2, Turn. 1 dc in next stitch, skip 1 stitch., (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in next stitch (shell made), skip 1 stitch, 1 dc in next stitch, repeat across, dc in last 2 stitch. 

Row 12-15: ch 2, turn. 1 dc in next stitch, Shell in each Shell, increase to 2 dc between Shells across to end, 2 dc in last 2 dc, ch 2 turn.

Rows 16-19: ch 2, turn. 1 dc in next stitch, Shell in each Shell, increase to 3 dc between Shells across to end, 2 dc in last 2 dc, ch 2 turn.

Row 20: 5 dc in each shell, dc in each of the 3 dc across. Do not fasten off.

Edging: ch 1, sc up right front opening, around neck, and down left front opening, 3 sc in corner stitch, sc around hemline, 2 sc in same as 1st sc, join with slip stitch. Fasten off.

Sleeve: With right side facing, attach yarn at bottom of armhole, ch 3.

Row 1: Make Shell in 2nd sc, skip 2, 1 dc in next st, skip 2, repeat around armhole to last sc, slip stitch in top of ch3 to join.

Row 2-7: ch 3, turn. Repeat Row 1, but with increase of 2 dc in each dc.

Row 8: ch 3, Turn. Repeat Row 1, decreasing to 1 dc in each 2 dc space. 

Row 9: ch 1, turn. sc in same stitch, skip 1, across (15 stitch)

Row 10: ch 1, turn. sc in each sc across, join & fasten off. 

Attach 2 to 3 buttons to fasten the front. The dcs make perfect button spaces or you can use ribbon. Be sure to attach securely.


Hat

Size:  3 - 6 months
Hat Circumference:  14 inches. 

Materials:  
  • 1 ounces baby yarn
  • size H (5.00mm) crochet hook.

*For a smaller size use baby sport yarn and size G (4.00mm) crochet hook.

Note:  Beg ch 2 does not count as a st in this pattern.


Pattern:

Beginning at top of hat, ch 4, sl st in first ch to form ring.

Rnd 1:  Ch 2, work 13 dc in ring, join with a sl st in first dc. (13 dc)

Rnd 2:  Ch 2, turn, 2 dc in each st around, join with a sl st in first dc. (26 dc)

Rnd 3:  Ch 2, turn, dc in first st, *2dc in next st, dc in next st, repeat from * around ending with 2dc in last st, join with a sl st in first dc. (39 dc)

Rnd 4:  Ch 2, turn, *dc in first two sts, 2dc in next st, repeat from * around, join with a sl st in first dc. (52 dc)

Rnds 5 - 16:  Ch 2, turn, dc in each st around, join with a sl st in first dc. (52 dc)

Do not turn at end of last row.

Edging:  (Ch 1 and sc) in each st around, join with a sl st in first sc. Fasten off. Weave in ends of yarn.

Turn up bottom of hat for brim.

Charlie -my best model
Make each one unique by adding differently colors for contrasting or blocking. How cute would an ombre color scheme be?!? 

This precious little outfit has made it's way from Florida to California as a gift for my high school friend, Jonathon. He and his partner are expecting their first baby any day now. So happy for you both!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad


Eating healthy is a constant effort, especially with my family. We tend to get into ruts with foods that we like and then we start missing out on the nutrients that we need. In my search for something different that is high in protein and and has lots of flavor, I ran across quinoa. I've heard nothing but good things about quinoa (pronouced  [KEEN-wah]), but I had never tried it, let alone make it.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as "The International Year of the Quinoa." In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid). You can read more about quinoa here.

I found it to be easy to work with and quick to make. As for recipes, there are tons. Next time I think I will spice it up just a bit more. Ok, so the hubby wasn't thrilled with this one, but found it to be satisfying both in taste and quality and exceeding my dietary ambitions.

Quinoa, Black Bean and Corn Salad
2 cups vegetable (non-vegetarians can use chicken broth)
1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans
1 cup corn kernels
1 medium red pepped, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 cloves garlic, about 1 tsp minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium sauce pan over high heat. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cold water and drain well IF NEEDED. Read the package instructions. I purchased organic quinoa that didn't require rinsing.  Add quinoa to the boiling water.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the beans, corn, red pepper, green or red onions, cilantro, garlic, and spices to the quinoa.  Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and combine all ingredients thoroughly.  Adjust seasonings to taste before serving.

Eat warm or cold and it tastes even better the next day as leftovers.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mail Call

Look what came in the mail! Maybe it doesn't look like much to you, but I'm in the "free" business. Anything I can get for free is money in my pocket. It's like winning a contest without all the effort.

So, how do I do it? Mostly by watching Facebook and Twitter. As I see people post free samples, giveaways, contests and the like, I go enter. Usually you just have to like their page and enter your mailing info. It just takes minute. If that particular page posts too much for your liking, guess what? All you have to do is "unlike" them and then it's gone! 

I figure if these companies want to spend their advertising money on postage instead of TV, then I sure as heck can help them out. I feel like I'm doing my civic duty as well. The Postal Service needs the business and I DVR everything to fast forward through the commercials. Everybody wins!

One of my favorite Facebook pages is MojoSavings (MojoSavings.com). They are prolific posters about really good freebies and contests. I'll share some of my other favorites when my next mailed freebie comes in. The mailman must think I'm crazy, but at least I get something besides bills. Don't forget to like my Facebook page. I share the really good freebies that I find there.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pinterest Round up #5

I'm back in my funk of pinning more than I am creating. It could possibly be that I'm over scheduling myself, but it's only because I have 8 days coming up where I will be out of the country. I'm looking forward to the trip, but it also means that is 8 days that I will not have to prepare for the class I'm teaching this fall or all the other little things that still need to be done before our new teachers start. Summer is always my busiest time of year. I'll just pretend I have at least 30 hours in a day and move onto showing what I found last week.

Favorite Pin #1
Ticket Holder
I noticed that my hubby was saving tickets in a pile on his dresser the other day, so when I ran across this holder I thought it might be a good way to display his collection. Whatcha think, honey? This pin is actually a link to a company that sells these for a measly, gulp, $150. Seriously? For a shadow box? I feel a tutorial coming on...

Favorite Pin #2
DIY Burt's Bee's style lip balm recipe
I feel naked and lost if I leave my house without a tube of lip balm, but those little things can sure add up at the store. Especially if you have children that tend to lose them. This easy recipe costs about 8 cents per tube to make, plus you know exactly what is going in it. 

Favorite Pin #3
Mark your own hem
This picture says it all. How did I not think of this? It's next to impossible to mark your own hem, so this idea from Threads magazine is absolutely brilliant. 

Favorite Pin #4 
Honey-Lavender Ricotta Ice Cream
Lavender? In food? I'll admit, I was skeptical as well. However, I have a dear friend who does this kind of wacky food combinations without even batting an eye (right, Mer?). I think she is just braver than I am, but this made me think of some of the things that she makes that I questioned and then loved. Actually, maybe I should just have her make this for me. Yes?

Favorite Pin #5
Pack your own lunch
Thinking forward to the fall when the kids go back to school. K2 is starting middle school and will start getting herself ready by herself since school doesn't start until 9 am. Crazy, right? So, this is a nice idea to maybe organize her. And me. Let's face it, she can only do so much on her own until she has left the nest. Gotta start somewhere!

Another week of pins down. Time to go start making stuff now. So many ideas, so little time. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sunshine Cake

I wish I could take credit for this one. Of course I found it on Pinterest. I'm so proud of myself for actually trying something that I pinned. Later, I read that this is a Weight Watchers treat. Even better, now I don't feel so guilty. It's so simple to make and it tastes like summer. Unlike regular cake, this gets better with time. Store it in a sealed container and the pineapple seeps into the cake making it taste like candied sunshine, and it's low calorie!

**Sunshine Cake**

Ingredients

1 box Angel Food Cake mix
20 ounce can of crushed pineapple in it's own juice

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350
Mix the ingredients together and pour into 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes. 

Let cool before eating. I think next time I'll try baking it in my angel food cake pan. It's easier for me to cut using my electric knife. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pinterest Round Up #4

Ok, ok, ok...so I've been slacking on my posts. It's partly because I've been so incredibly busy and partly because I'm so warn out from being busy that I don't feel like putting on my perky face and typing out bubbly words to all of you. Whining over. Time for the pins!

Favorite Pin #1
Park G├╝ell 
Next month, K1 and I will be traveling to Spain. Even though this is a school tour, I'm such a planner that I've started researching all the places on the itinerary so I'll know what to expect. Note: I don't like surprises.

Favorite Pin #2
Butternut Squash Risotto
The weather is getting warmer (read: blasted hot even for Florida) and I am looking for alternatives to using the stove/oven to keep the heat down in the house. First step: create a crock pot/slow cooker board and pin like crazy. Next step: create a grilling board and pin even more.

Favorite Pin #3
Landscape Design
I want to say I'm environmentally conscious, but really I think I'm just lazy. I'm so over taking care of the yard. Now I'm looking for ways to landscape with materials that need little to no care. I don't want to mow, prune, water, or tend in any way...or at least as little as possible. It's too hot to be outside doing work. I'd rather be at the beach.

Favorite Pin #4
Book Pillows
How cute are these little pillows that look like books? I work in the English Department at USF, so I think these would be a hit with my crew. 

Favorite Pin #5
Tee to Tank Refashion
Summer is in full swing and I just love these refashioned tanks. They look super easy to make and would be a good way to get more use out of those t-shirts I haven't been wearing. I've been a follower of the Crafterhours blog for awhile now and this is just one more reason why I'm a reader.

Don't forget, you can follow me on Pinterest, too! Feel free to post your favorite pin as well. I'm always on the lookout for a good pin.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pinterest Round Up #3

It was a slow week for pinning last week. I just didn't see a lot that interested me plus I was busy doing other things - like actually making the things I had previously pinned. I kid you not! You'll see more of that later this week. So, on with the show. Don't forget that you can click on the link under the pin to go directly to it.

Favorite Pin #1
Crocheted headband
How cute is this little headband!?! Unfortunately the page is in Japanese and the translation isn't great. I think I could figure out how to crochet this on my own just with the photo. It looks simple enough. Maybe I'll post the pattern when I come up with it. Would you be interested in that?

Favorite Pin #2
Setting a table
When I saw this, I realized that I haven't taught my girls how to properly set a table. So much to remember, so little time.

Favorite Pin #3
Magic Carpet Cleaner
Summer is the perfect time to get to those little projects that I have been avoiding. Although we have replaced our carpet with wood flooring in the main area of the house, we left it in the bedrooms. It really needs to go, but until then it's time to clean it up. You can find this and more over at the Lizzie Writes blog.

Favorite Pin #4
Homemade Peppermint Patties
I've really been into making food in order to cut out all the preservatives found in store bought food. I'd like to say that is why I pinned this, but in reality, I just really like chocolate and mint. Christy, over at My Invisible Crown, has a ton of recipes that are easy to make and look amazing. Yep, she just gained another follower.

Ok, time to go find some more good stuff to pin!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Ranch Chicken Enchiladas

The Recipe Critic
I made a pact with myself to actually try the pins I find on Pinterest. The whole idea is to find and try new things, right? This recipe looks amazing. How could it go wrong? I dunno, my stuff never turns out as visually pleasing.
The chicken was actually pretty tasty. You cook it in the spices in a slow cooker an then it shreds perfectly. I will never buy canned chicken again! So why does mine not look as pretty? Um, well, not having enough of the ingredients might be one reason. Oops. Oh well, it still tasted good so this one is a keeper. It's easy to make and the ranch gives it a little kick - just enough to keep it from being like a traditional enchilada. Want to try it?

Ranch Chicken Enchiladas
from the Recipe Critic

Ingredients:
3-4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 package chicken taco seasoning
1 package ranch dry salad dressing
1/2 cup bottled ranch
1/2 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can chicken broth
1 package white flour tortillas

1.   Cook and shred the chicken.  I cooked mine in the slow cooker with the ranch packet and taco seasoning packages in the chicken broth.  The chicken just peeled apart.  I cooked it on low for about 3-4 hours.
2. Mix the 1/2 cup of ranch and 1/2 salsa in a bowl.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and spread a very thin layer of the mixture on the bottom.
3. Start assembling the enchiladas by putting 2 Tbs of the ranch and salsa mixture on the bottom of tortilla.  Then put the shredded chicken on top of that.  Sprinkle with cheese and roll it up.
4. Line up the enchiladas in the 9x13 pan and sprinkle heavily with the cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and enchiladas are heated through.
5. Drizzle the top with ranch and enjoy!


Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Dryer Sheets


Who would have thought that dryer sheets could be used for other things other than IN the dryer? Not this girl. In fact, when I got my new dryer, I started cutting my sheets into thirds - now they last almost forever. 

CouponCloset
The only thing the full sheet gained me was build up on my lint screen which decreased the efficiency of my dryer. My clothes still come out wrinkle and static free, so why mess up my machine? Besides, I have other things that I can use those sheets for. Be sure to check out the links with the photos for even more tips.

So, what else can you do with dryer sheets? Keep dust from settling on baseboards, blinds, electronics and lamps around the house by wiping with a dryer sheet. Also helps repel pet hair! 
Apartment Therapy
Tired of taking Fluffies love to work with you? Use a dryer sheet to wipe it away. Works on furniture and bedding, too!
Real Simple
Ok, crafters, these are for you. Stabilize embroidery  by placing clean, used sheet behind t-shirt or sweatshirt when you cross-stitch or embroider designs on them. Less expensive than buying stabilizer!
FaveQuilts
Run your sewing needle through a new sheet and the needle will glide smoothly though fabric. Keeps thread from tangling, too.
Real Simple

Clean your iron by running it over a dryer sheet on a cool setting. 
Real Simple
 I love the way my clothes smell right out of the dryer. Keep that same fresh scent longer by placing a sheet in your drawers. Works well in gym bags, suitcases, and smelly sneakers, too.
A Nut in a Nutshell
 With a small amount of water on a dryer sheet, easily scrub that soap scum off of glass shower doors. Keeps it from coming back, too!
Homespiration
This is just the tip of the iceburg. There are so many ways to stretch your dollar and decrease your cleaning time with new and used dryer sheets. What other ways do you use dryer sheets?

Monday, June 03, 2013

Pinterest Round up #2

With the holiday last Monday, I skipped posting round 2 of my Pinterest Round Up. Now I have more pins to choose from to share with you!

Favorite Pin #1
Color 
I love these colors and thought this would be a good reference for future home and craft projects. Good thing I pinned it, because the actual page is now gone. At least I have the image to look at.

Favorite Pin #2
Tea Cup Cupcake
How sweet is this? I love the blue and white together, but if you really like this, you'll have to figure out how to do it on your own. It's just from someone's tumbler account. The good news is that I can always use the image to have someone else make them for me. 

Favorite Pin #3
Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Salad
I am totally going to make this yummy looking salad. You can find the recipe over at the Gimme Some Oven blog and you can also bet that I am now a subscriber.  I'm always on the lookout for new recipes.

Favorite Pin #4
That's What She Said Blog
I've been wanting to build a pergola in my backyard for years now. My dad actually said he would help me build one, but between the heat and his health, we just haven't got around to it. To be honest, I'd rather pay someone to do it for me. Any takers?

Favorite Pin #5
DIY Barbie House
K2 and I have been working on converting her existing bookshelf into an actual Barbie house. It's been a slow process, but tutorials like this one over at A Girl and a Glue Gun are lots of help. Someday soon I hope to show you our finished project.

Did you find anything good on Pinterest? Feel free to share here!