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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Love Crochet

I just realized I never shared my crochet projects from way back in 2010.

My late grandmother taught me to crochet rows. She tried to teach me more, but I was an unruly tween who didn’t have the patience. I dropped it and picked it up many times over the years, but I finally got serious in the fall of 2010. I can’t understand patterns to save my life, but I am - apparently - very good at improvising. :o)

That said, I tried to follow a pattern for a gnome rug on Wee Folk Art.  I messed up and ended up with a circle with what looked like a flower petal. I decided to make the mistake over and over again to see if I could make a flower, and I did!  I call it "Oopsy Daisy."

I tried again, but I messed up around the sixth row, so I improvised. This was my first round project, unless you count my oopsy daisy.

I gave up on patterns for a while.

I was messing around during Mikey's therapy one day, and I thought I’d see if could make a T-Rex, and I did! It took me a little over a half hour to create, no pattern.

Last year I signed up with a group called "A Square a Day in May" (facebook group and Ravelry group)  They offered a pattern to follow for each day in May 2011.  You can probably guess I chickened out and never did a one.  I did save the info, though, and I plan to give it a go this year as part of "A Granny a Day 2012" (facebook group and Ravelry group) where we have no patterns, just the simple goal of crocheting a single granny square each day of the 366-day year.  I haven't started that, either, partly because I didn't find it until several days ago and partly because I'm chicken.

At the end of last year, I thought it would be fun to follow a video tutorial each day from my favorite crochet teacher: http://www.youtube.com/crochet.  I have yet to start that, too, mostly because I feel like I have more important things to do, even though it keeps drawing me in like a Siren song.  Her instructions are so clear that I know I could sew anything she showed me.  (She also has a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Crochetmania)

I know I need to just rip off the bandage and pick up a hook already.  Keep your eyes open for my successes (and failures) as I stumble along, trying to channel my grandmother through my hook and yarn.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge 1/6/12: Launch

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge 1/13/12: Peaceful

Menu Plan Monday 1/16/12-1/29/12

Monday 1/16: Benihana for Mike's birthday

Tuesday 1/17: Brinner for Ellie's birthday (she LOVES pancakes!) - sausage, bacon, pancakes, scrambled eggs for Mike, hard-boiled eggs for me (this is how I do it), fresh fruit

Wednesday 1/18: Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce Chicken, pasta (sauce loaded with veggies)

Thursday 1/19: Slow Cooker French Dip, sweet potato fries

Friday 1/20: Oven Roasted BBQ Chicken (only I'm going to throw it in the slow cooker), still trying to think of a dairy-free veggie side...SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!

Saturday 1/21: Crock Pot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, rice, Sesame Green Beans

Sunday 1/22: Still deciding...may eat out or order in

Monday 1/23: Sprite roast (beef roast, packet of onion soup mix, can of cream of whatever soup, can of lemon-lime soda...cook on low 8 hours), mashed potatoes (to catch the gravy), roasted parsnips

Tuesday 1/24: Baked chicken (breaded in whatever crackers I have on hand with whatever spices inspire me at the moment), baked potatoes, onion broccoli (like this green bean recipe)

Wednesday 1/25: Brinner - sausage, bacon, pancakes, scrambled eggs for Mike, hard-boiled eggs for me, fresh fruit

Thursday 1/26: Spaghetti with meat sauce loaded with veggies, garlic bread

Friday 1/27: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala, sweet peas (from one of my cookbooks), naan

Saturday 1/28: Simple Slow Cooker Picante Chicken, rice, roasted broccoli

Sunday 1/29: Morton's Tri Tip Steak from Costco, Sesame Green Beans, roasted potatoes

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Candy Canes and Christmas Trees...Fine Motor Crafting

This post has been sitting unfinished for a few weeks.  I had a hard time remembering to take pictures of our candy-cane chaos (below).  Anyway, here are some ideas for next year...

I've been wanting to have the kids do ribbon Christmas trees, like this, and paper candy canes, like this.  With a few minutes of down time today, I whipped up the materials for whenever the kids and I had the chance to start crafting.

Thinking about the candy canes, I knew that gluing the stripes onto the cane would be a challenge for Mikey, so I decided we'd glue the stripes on the paper and then cut out the cane shape.  My next thought was I needed a cane-shaped stencil, but I remembered I have a couple dozen stencils in the pantry.  ;o)  In this craft, I used the following skills: gluing, placing, tracing and cutting.

First, I glued the white stripes on the red paper.  You could, of course, do this the other way around.  Make sure you fully coat the stripes so you don't have any separation after you cut out the canes.

Second, I turned over the paper and traced the candy cane several times.  I recommend laying the cane on an angle so you get diagonal stripes across your cut-out canes.  Also, be sure to leave generous tracing borders, especially if you're using skinny candy canes, to make them easier to cut out.

Third, cut out the candy canes.

I haven't decided what to do with ours yet.  I thought about gluing them onto paper as a candy-cane collage, maybe sponge painting the paper first.  I also thought about hanging them on yarn as garland.  I decided to wad up newspaper and use watered-down white paint to make snow.  When the kids' snowstorms were dry, they glued on the candy canes.  I think it's obvious which one was done by the two-year-old ad which was done by the four-year-old.

When I decided to do the ribbon trees, I knew I didn't have any ribbon (yes, I know this is a theme with me), so I cut strips of paper in varying lengths.  Since I wanted the trees to have a little sparkle, I threw shiny star stickers into the mix.  As I started the project, I decided our trees need stars on top, so I pulled out the glitter glue.  In this craft, I used the following skills: ordering, gluing, peeling and placing, and glue drawing.

First, give the strips to the child in a pile so that they have to order them from longest to shortest or shortest to longest.  Then glue the strips to the paper with the longest at the bottom and the shortest at the top.  Second, decorate the tree with the stickers.  Finally, use glitter glue to create a star on top of the tree.  (I'm sorry I don't have a better picture.  I always wait until nighttime to take these pictures, and the lighting just doesn't work.)

Ellie decided hers needed "branches" at the top 
Mikey needed surprisingly little direction for this!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A place for everything 1/3/12

Last year, in 2011, I'm an Organizing Junkie did a 52-week organizing link up.  I somehow missed this (or I conveniently blocked it out), but it has inspired me for 2012.  I can't promise something blog worthy for every week of 2012, but I will show you my proud moments.  I spent all of 2011 decluttering, rather unintentionally, and I've finally reached a stopping point where I can't move forward without getting things organized and put away in a few-major-projects kind of way. I find the timing to be fatefully aligned with the change of the year.

As fate would once again have it, as part of his Christmas giving, Mike took me to IKEA this week to get an EXPEDIT bookcase that I long ago determined was the best solution for our mess of children's books in the family room.  We currently have a toy bin rack like this for board books and a cheap, shallow-shelf small bookcase for paper-page books.  Of course, the books never stay with their respective furniture, and all both pieces allow for is books sliding everywhere, including the floor.  I knew the cubby-style shelving of the EXPEDIT piece would minimize the sliding, and it's big enough for all the books.  Additionally, there's room for DVDs and other things, like games, on top.

I neglected to take before pictures, but here's a picture of our first organization project of the new year, built New Year's Eve eve and filled over the next few days.  Happy New Year!

Sorry for the weird angle...the Christmas tree was in my way.
Oh, and you rest assured it is anchored to the wall for safety!

A Tale of Disillusionment: Baby Showers

A friend made a suggestion to me on facebook.  Her innocent statement open the floodgates for a river of disillusionment that has had me restless for the last few years.  No, this topic is not a deep, life-changing one, but it's important to me, and I believe it's a good reflection of our society's changing attitude toward life and community.

All my life, and I do mean even as a small child, I thought a baby shower was thrown for the purpose of "showering" the mother-to-be with love as she approached the day she would meet her baby and her life would be forever changed.  At some point shortly before or after my first child was born, I got into a heated discussion online about the appropriateness of baby showers for subsequent pregnancies.  Someone told me that I was wrong; baby showers are to shower gifts on the mother-to-be.  Yes, it makes sense.  It also explains the graphics on many baby shower cards I've seen throughout my life.  Still, I didn't believe it.  I started to ask around.  The response was unanimous: she was exactly right.

Semantics aside, I stand by my point.  I believe that EVERY baby should be honored, if the mother wishes it.  In some parts of our country, it is customary to have a full-blown shower for every pregnancy.  They're often big events with lots of food and lots of people and lots of celebration.  In other parts of our country, it is considered completely inappropriate to have any sort of baby-related party before the baby comes.  In these parts, it is usually customary to have a baby open house for people to come see the baby, or at least that is seen as the only acceptable baby party in these situations.

Etiquette gives two conditions, at least one of which must be met, for having a baby shower for a subsequent pregnancy.  The first is that the new baby and the next oldest child will be at least five years apart.  The second is that the new sibling is a different sex than the other child or children (e.g. this is the first girl for this mother).

Jumping back to what "shower" means for a minute, I don't like that ANY baby shower is focused on the gifts.  Sure, a new mom probably needs a lot of stuff.  (The "probably" is another discussion for another day.)  I think it's great to use the opportunity to supply her with that.  But isn't the party about her becoming a mother?  Isn't it the time to really get excited about the baby who is about to enter this world?  For this reason, I don't like the term "sprinkle," either, which is the compromise often made in our society for second pregnancies (though not usually third, fourth and so on).  Changing the name from "baby shower" to "baby sprinkle" just emphasizes that the party is about the presents.

I have no argument against a first baby being a totally unique life-changing event that should be celebrated.  But I have a question for those who do not believe in having baby parties beyond the first pregnancy: Is the first baby the only miracle?  Furthermore, is the mother not going to be changed by EVERY life she brings into this world or into her home (in the case of adoption)?  What happened to the women of the tribe coming together to support the mother-to-be in whatever way she needs?