Creatures

April 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm (Crocheting, Shenanigans) (, , , , , , )

A collection of not-so-great photos of my creatures :]

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Percy the Penguin, Mort the Ghost, Melvin the Giraffe, CTHULU, Emily the Nightmare Bunny, Albert the Pig [also with wings.] And Thomas’ Bear.

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Vegan, Vegetarian, or otherwise Healthy food choices.

April 17, 2009 at 6:51 pm (Cooking, Shenanigans)

I’m not a vegan, though I have sincerely considered it, and tried to be. I’m also not a vegetarian (although I usually don’t eat meat, I still will.)
I never, ever eat pork, or veal. I almost never eat beef (the exception really being only when I am with my grandparents.) I rarely eat chicken. I do, however, eat a lot of fish.
I’m also a fierce supporter of PETA.

All of that aside, this is one of the most interesting blogs I’ve ever stumbled across.

The Apartment Vegan

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Vampire Cookies

April 4, 2009 at 7:13 am (Baking, Shenanigans) (, , , , , )

I am not as weird as that title suggests.

Today (Friday, not literally today) was very…hectic. I needed something to cheer me up.
So! I put on a vampire movie marathon (Underworld, Dracula 2000, Twilight, Interview with the Vampire, and Van Helsing) and baked Vampire Cookies.

However, I am trying to diet. So I used a relatively less fattening recipe.
(I got the idea from this site. Same recipe, but a slightly different method.)

You Will Need:

  • ¾ cup substitute butter [or butter, or shortening (for whiter cookies)]
  • ¾ cup Splenda [or 1/2 cup sugar]
  • ¼ cup egg substitute [or 1 large egg]
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
    [Note: I usually use wheat flour as opposed to all-purpose, but if you want the cookies to turn out white, all purpose is needed. The cookies don’t have to be white, though. You could even make them chocolate, if you wanted.]
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ~½ cup of sugar-free red jam [raspberry/strawberry] or Maraschino cherry juice.
  • ~2 tablespoons warm water or ~2 tablespoons Splenda.
  • A rolling pin, round cookie cutter, and flour for the rolling area.

What To Do:

Filling:

Jelly: Mix the jam and warm water, to make a somewhat thin syrup. Keep it out, at room temperature.
Cherry juice: Mix with Splenda to make it thicker, but still runny. Put it in the fridge until ready to use.

Cookies:

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter [substitute] and Splenda until light.
  2. Beat in egg [substitute] and extracts.
  3. Add flour and salt to the bowl, and mix them into the butter-Splenda mixture at low speed until dough is just combined.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 325°
  6. Divide the dough into halves, and put one half back in the fridge.
  7. Roll the dough out until it is about ½ inch thick.
  8. Use cookie cutter to make circles. (Mine were 2 inches.)
  9. Place circles on baking pan(s).
  10. Use your thumb (or a tea spoon if you’d rather not use your thumb) to make a small well into the center of each circle.
  11. Spoon a little of the jelly syrup or cherry syrup into the well.
  12. Place another dough circle on top, and press edges to seal the cookie shut.
  13. Use a toothpick or fork to make two, small holes (the vampire bites) into the top.
  14. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies are set.
  15. Cool for about 5 minutes, then redefine the holes. Draw blood trickle if you so desire.

I also made Shirley Temples. Tonight was very red.

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Bags

April 2, 2009 at 8:31 am (Crocheting, Shenanigans) (, , , )

A few months ago, sometime before Christmas, I made myself a (rather gigantic) bag.
It was great! I usually used it to carry my books in, sometimes my groceries.
However, recently, I noticed it had stretched considerably. I realize that this was rather common occurrence with one particular type of yarn: Vanna’s Choice.
Granted, this yarn is very soft, and makes nice scarves and hats. But, it is very expensive (even when on sale!) and you don’t get very much for what you pay. Pros and cons, I suppose. Regardless.

I’m making a new bag. Well, actually, several.

First! My grandmother gave me this odd, sort of suede-like yarn, and I am making a smaller version of the gigantic bag out of that, using the same pattern.

Gigantic Bag
You will need:

  • Any type of yarn. I highly recommend a thicker yarn. I highly recommend it not be Vanna’s Choice.
    (Or Simply Soft, as that stretches like mad, too, but is so delightful for blankets.)
  • Any size? I’m using my usual K-hook, because I don’t like change.
  • Patience to count.

What to do:

  1. Chain 4, slip stich closed to form ring.
  2. Do 8 half double crochets into first stitch of ring. slp st closed.
  3. Do 2 single crochets into each hdc. (16 sts total)
  4. Do 1 sc in first st, 2 sc into next. Repeat. (24 sts total)
  5. Continue in this fashion, adding another sc for each subsequent row.
    (ex: 2sc in ea, 2 sc into next st for the 4th row; 3sc in ea, 2 sc into next st for the 5th; etc.)
    [Note: the whole thing is similar to a hat, with the initial flat circle being larger.]
  6. When you’ve gotten the flat circle to the size you want it, do 1 sc into ea st of the previous row.
  7. Continue with 1 sc into ea st until the bag is half the height you want it. At this point, do a hdc into each st.
    (SCs make for a sturdier base.)
  8. From when you begin the hdc, half way through that begin doing decrease stitches. I did mine in an 8 st decrease. This makes the bag somewhat tear-shaped.
    (I do a rim around the top, but this isn’t necessarily needed.)

For the handle(s) I just make a long strip of hdcs or cross-crochets and sew it on. If I ever figure out how to do something different, I will ammend this. I’ve also seen handles you can crochet on, but those don’t interest me.

The other bag!
I’m not entirely sure how I’m going about this, honestly, but I’ve had a few people ask me if I make those bags from shredded groceries bags, so I’m going to give it a go. I will probably use a similar (if not that exact) pattern.
This website has the best instructions I’ve found thus far.

I suppose it should be noted that one plastic bag does not equal a whole lot of “yarn.” However, most people have a ton of these lying around.
If you want a bag and/or have plastic bags on hand, but don’t want to do all that, let me know! I’ll make it for you.

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Sunflower Pattern

March 25, 2009 at 5:02 pm (Crocheting) (, , )

Sunflower Medallion
You Will Need:

  • 2 skeins each of:
    • Red Heart super saver Coffee
    • Red Heart super saver Cornmeal
    • Red Heart super saver Gold
    • Red Heart super saver Medium Thyme
      • [You will have yarn left over, but one skein is not enough.]
  • Size K crochet hook
  • Yarn needle

What To Do:

In Coffee:

  1. Chain 4. Slip stitch to form ring.
  2. Chain 1, 7 single crochets into ring.
  3. Chain 2, 15 half double crochet (2 into ea sc.)
  4. Chain 2, 31 hdc (2 into ea sc.)
  5. Fasten off.

In Gold or Cornmeal

  1. Ch 4, 5 triple crochets in same stitch, ch 3
  2. Skip 3 stitches
  3. * 6 trc in next st, ch 3, skip 3 sts
  4. Repeat from * 6 times, 8 groups total.
  5. Slip st closed.
  6. Ch 4. 1 trc in next 5 sts, leaving a loop on the hook. YO and pull through all 6 loops to from cluster, slip st closed. Ch 7.
  7. *1 trc in next 6 sts, cluster, ch 7.
  8. Repeat from * 6 times, 8 groups total.
  9. Slip st closed, and fasten off.
  10. Push clusters from back to form petals.

In Medium Thyme:

  1. Ch 3 in top st of cluster.
  2. 3 double crochet into ch-7 space, ch 2, 2-ch picot, ch 2, 3 DC, 1 DC into st of next cluster.
  3. Ch 3, 4 HDC into ch-7 space, ch 3
  4. *1 DC into st of cluster, 3 DC into ch-7 space, ch 2,2-ch picot, ch 2, 3 DC into ch-7 space, 1 DC into st of next cluster. Ch 3, 4 HDC into ch-7 space, ch 3.
  5. Repeat from * twice.
  6. Slip stitch closed and fasten off.

NOTE: The ch 2, 2-ch pictot, ch 2 is the corner.
Make as many as you’d like.

Lace Square

  • Size  H crochet hook (for tighter stitches.)
  • Coffee and/or Medium Thyme yarn.
  1. Ch 6, slp st closed to form ring.
  2. 12 SC into the ring, slp st closed.
  3. *Ch 9, skip 2 st, slp st into 3rd.
  4. Repeat from * three times. Slp st in 5 sts of first ch-9.
  5. *Ch-11, slp st into the 5th st of next ch-9.
  6. Repeat from * three times. Slp st in 6 sts of first ch-11.
  7. Ch 3, do 2 DC into same st. Ch 2, 2-ch picot, ch 2, 3 DC in same st of first 2 DCs.
  8. *Ch 6, HDC into top of row-1 ch-9 space (where two ch-11 meet in row-2)
  9. Ch 6, 3 DC into 6th st of ch-11. Ch 2, 2-ch picot, ch 2, 3 DC into same st.
  10. Repeat 3 times. Fasten off.

Sew the whole thing together however you please. I used the green to sew mine together, but I thought the brown might have looked better. (Not that it really matters.)

I did mine in rows of alternating Sunflower medallions (gold, cornmeal, gold; et cetera) touching at corners (like diamonds instead of squares) with the lace squares as the second row, in between.

Makes for a light, airy throw, perfect for summer!

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Sunflowers

March 17, 2009 at 4:33 am (Crocheting, Shenanigans, Sleep Remedy) (, , , , , )

I FINALLY FINISHED THIS THROW I MADE FOR MY SISTER-IN-LAW!

Okay, technically, I finished it in December,  and it got ruined, and I had to un-sew it and fix it, and…yeah it took me a while.

I will post a pattern when I find the notebook I wrote it down in. It’s lovely!

Sunflower throw coner view

Sunflower throw, corner view

A very poor, cell phone picture of the corner. I took this right before I sewed the whole thing together again.
But even in the poor quality, you can see the loveliness.

It’s 35 sunflower squares (5 by 7, 18 golden, 17 cornflower yellow, in an every-other pattern.) 24 large lace squares (coffee brown.) and 20 small lace squares (two different greens, because I ran out of the one. I forget the name of both, but all yarn was Red Heart.)

Also, making a Leprechaun for my adorable Nephew! Also, planning to make Irish Potatoes.

Also…Zolpidem makes you hallucinate! Wow. Normally, I wouldn’t take it. But I’ve been up since…Saturday afternoon? Whoo! Awful. Losing my mind.

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I doubt this is what Billy Mays had in mind.

March 16, 2009 at 3:19 am (Cooking, Shenanigans) (, , , , , , )

My brother Adam gave me a Pancake Puff maker for my birthday.

“What 20 year old would want something like that?”
The answer: this one.

I made pancakes, of course, just to test it out. And they turned out great! Aside from me squishing the life out of the first few. Usually when I make pancakes, I fill my apartment with smoke. Not this time!
After that, the logical leap would be muffins, or brownies, or something similar. But what fun is that?
So I made makeshift pancake puff-esq pierogis. And they were awesome.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tubes of your choice of crescent roll dough. (I used the generic brand I got at Aldi’s.)
  • 2 cups instant mashed potatoes. (you could probably use real mashed potatoes? I did this on a whim.)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese. (I used Cheddar!)
  • ½ cup diced onion (I used frozen Shop Rite kind.)
  • Butter or oil to coat wells of pan. (I used butter.)
  • Sour cream for dipping.

What to do:

  • Heat pan on low, melting butter.
  • Put onions onto pan, letting them brown
  • Make your mashed potatoes as directed on the box. Stir in cheese.
  • Unroll your crescents, separating them into triangles.
  • Place a heaping tea spoon of mashed potatoes into center of each triangle.
  • Fold corners into center, creating a ball. Make sure the mashed potatoes are fully sealed in.
  • Turn heat up slightly. Place the dough balls into the wells.
  • Using your flip-sticks (aka skewers) cook your pierogis until they are browned.
    [NOTE: You will need to flip more than once, or they will burn.]
  • Allow to cool, then serve with sour cream, and preferably kielbasa and sauerkraut.

[Note: The pan gets very, very hot. Please be careful. Don’t be like me.]

This was much easier than trying to deep fry them and harming myself, or trying to cook them on the foreman grill and squishing them flat. You could also do this sans the onions, but that was always the way my Mom cooked them. Oh man, so many pierogies…feeding 4 large Slavic men. We’d go through dozens. So delicious.

The hex is done! I have begun making non-voodoo dolls. If I ever figure out a good system I will, of course, post it.

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Stitches of Love

March 11, 2009 at 9:11 am (Church, Crocheting) (, , , )

When my Father passed away, someone–I don’t recall who, now–gave my Mother a light pink shawl crocheted in broomstick lace. It was a lovely gift, and for the year that she lived past his death, she kept it near her at all times–wrapped around her shoulders during dialysis, draped over the arm of the couch when she was home, or tucked into her huge lighthouse tote when she went out. For her funeral, someone–I believe my Grandmother?–wanted her buried with it, but we couldn’t find it. My brother Adam eventually stumbled across a pink shawl, one she was given when first diagnosed with Renal failure, five years before, and we used that.
I’ll be honest–the year after my Mother’s death is a blur: graduating from high school, the summer, starting college. I don’t remember exactly when I realized that I had the shawl, but there it was, tucked among my other crocheted afghans in a huge green tote.
And there it remained; an eidolon of my Mother, made of Red Heart pink yarn, as long as my arms stretched out, with long fringe, smelling distinctly of Old Lady (you know the smell! That weird, soft, powdery smell!) And I kept it buried.

When I moved into my apartment, I came across it again, and took it out. At first, I folded it up and tucked it under my bed, with the rest of the extra blankets. But as winter came and I actually decided to use all those afghans, it came out more and more. It eventually ended up on my couch, tucked under my over-sized pillow.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was attempting to straighten up and came across it again. It still felt the same, and smelled the same (which baffles me!) and still had the same feel to it–someone sat down and did this complicated stitch to make something beautiful for my mother, to try to tell her she wasn’t alone.

Prayer shawls are funny things in that way. There is the practical use of a shawl to keep yourself warm. But there’s more to it than that. There’s something…comforting about knowing that someone sat down and created it from a thread of yarn into a fabric, made especially for you.

So I’ve been making shawls. I’ve made fifteen or sixteen of them since January, and have just been collecting them in a pile. And I’m not sure what to do with them. Is it equally effective if I give them to someone to distribute? Should I wait to hear of someone who needs one? Will it be as effective if it wasn’t made specifically for them? Feel as special? Am I putting entirely too much thought into this? (Probably.) I gave one to my brother’s mother-in-law, and whenever I go over there, I see it sitting somewhere nearby, and it makes me feel like…I helped? Comforted? I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s just a positive emotional reaction.
But at the church my Grandfather is a pastor at, there is a woman who made a bunch and hung them near the sanctuary, giving them away but requesting a donation. And it made me feel…odd.

Regardless! The pattern I use is a very simple one that creates a solid, triangular fabric that is still pretty.

Pattern:
Chain 3. Slip stitch into the first chain to create a circle.
Chain 3, do 2 DC into the circle
Chain 3, then do 3 DC into the circle.
Chain 3 and turn. Do 2 DC into the same stitch.
Chain 2. Do 3 DC-Ch3-3 DC into Ch-3 from first row (this will be the point of the shawl)
Chain 2. Do 3 DC into the last stitch (the top stitch of the original ch-3)

Repeat, adding a Ch-2-3 Dc-ch2 into each subsequent ch-2 space, with the 3DC-Ch3-3DC for the point.

It is basically half of a granny square.

Another variation is to a do cross-stitch in 3DC spaces, either starting with the second row, or doing every other row.
Cross-stitch:
In the 3DC space, Do a DC into the last stitch (the stitch furthest from your hook, before the ch-2 space)
Ch 1. Do a DC into the first stitch, creating an X.

If anyone knows anyone who could use a prayer shawl, let me know. They’re free, unless I have to ship out of the country, or buy yarn I don’t already have. (So much yarn!)

Also! The hex is nearly done! And I’ve been writing up patterns/experimenting to make little, non-voodoo dolls.

I am not affiliated with either of these, but they are both great organizations:

http://www.stitchesoflove.us/
http://www.stitchesoflove.org/

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Blue

March 6, 2009 at 9:52 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

When I was little, my Mother used to drag us out to pick blueberries by the bushel. It would be hot, and sandy, and sunny, and one of us–usually Matt–would whine and complain until she got frustrated enough to take us all back to that beat up gray mini-van. I remember being in a little sun dress, and always wearing my Father’s straw hat. I remember sneaking a few into my mouth, tasting like slightly-sweetened dirt. We’d take them home and fill the kitchen sink with them to rinse them off, then put them into labeled Ziploc bags to be frozen, and forgotten about.

Until the winter, when she would remember that there were a dozen bags of blueberries frozen solid in the freezer in the basement. Then there’d be muffins, and pancakes, and sugared blueberries in our cheerios.

Last time I went to the grocery, I saw these bags of frozen blueberries, and couldn’t resist buying them. I put them in my cereal; mixed them with pomegranate seeds and dusted the mixture with Splenda; mixed them into what I had left of Vanilla Silk and froze the mixture. Very wistful. I can’t seem to make pancakes (I think I’m too impatient) but tonight, I decided to make muffins.

Muffin Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup margarine
  • ½ cup Splenda
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tea spoons baking powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1  cups frozen blue berries
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • ½ cup blueberries, thawed, mixed with Splenda to create thin syrup

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a muffin pan. I used Pam Baking spray, with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, Splenda, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add the soy milk, margarine, egg and lemon juice, and thawed blueberry/syrup, and stir until mixed.
  4. Gently add the blueberries.
  5. Spoon the batter in to the muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until muffins are golden brown.

Blueberry-pomegranate juice is also delicious. I had purchased the pomegranates in October, scooped the seeds out, and froze them. I basically just squish and strain the berries and seeds with my fingers, but this is because I don’t have a blender and only make a glass at a time.  If you try this and find it to be too tart, try adding a little apple juice  or ginger ale to it. I have also done this with the pomegranate seeds and strawberries.

Blood Orange Juice is also quite good, but almost overwhelmingly sweet, and I made a nigh-gorey mess in my sink. I seem to gain sustenance primarily from liquids…

I usually go to a place called Red Bank to walk around in the late afternoon. It runs along the oh-so-scenic Delaware River, and is actually pretty sketchy in the off-season. Today, I met up with my cousin at a local health facility that also runs along the Delaware, and is notably less sketchy–street lamps, people in little carts patrolling, a lot of people. I found it strange that a matter of maybe 2 miles could make such a difference.

The Hex goes well…is currently about the size of an average umbrella around, 2½ feet from point to point. It is mostly navy blue, and there are several spots where the color changes a few stitches away from the completetion of the round. It irks me, so this will likely be given away.

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Hex

March 5, 2009 at 3:56 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

I don’t generally like the number six.

In my experiences, it usually leads to awkward, occasionally menacing things. Bad things happen in sixes, too, not threes: it’s always three big things, and three little things.

Regardless! I decided to make a hexagon blanket, because I haven’t made one yet.

A month or so ago, my grandmother gave me a trash bag full of balls of blue yarn. Mostly navy blue, with some smaller balls of light colors. I made all of the bigger ones into hats, and a few of the small, light ones into flowers for the hats and a necklace.

But I still had a lot let over. So I tied them all together, and rolled them into one giant ball. And started crocheting the hexagon.

Why a hexagon? To satiate me impulse to count things. And, well, it’ll be interesting when it’s done!

It’s a fairly simple pattern:

Chain 4, slip stitch closed to form a ring.

Round 1:

Chain 5. [3 Double Crochets into ring, chain 2] 5 times, then 2 DC into ring. Slip stitch into the 3rd chain of chain-5.

Round 2:

Slip stitch in next chain, chain 5, 1 DC into 2-ch space.

*1 DC into each of the three DC. [1 DC ch 2 1DC] in ch-2 space.

Repeat from * 4 times.

1 DC in next 2 DC. 1 DC in 3rd ch of Round-1’s ch 5.

Slip stitch in 3rd ch of this round’s ch-5.

Repeat Round 2 as many times as needed for desired size, adding 12 DCs to each round (in the ch-2 spaces.)

I’ll post pictures when I’m done!

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