Monday, January 21, 2013

Cable Stitch Ear Warmer

Last year, I posted this to Facebook, "Pay it forward 2012. I promise to make something hand made to the first 5 people that comment. Then post this to your status and do the same... It can be as simple as a coffee, hand written note, or something more. Just has to be done in 2012."

I failed. 

The last week in December, I was wracking my brain to remember who the five people were. I told myself I was going to get them something before the end of the year, even if it was just a handmade card. 

I failed again

So I told myself, better late than never and I promised myself to get them something ASAP in 2013 and if I am feeling inspired to keep going, I will repost that post for 2013 and procrastinate till next year again.

Well, with this project, I have one less failure. 1 down, 4 to go. (If you're one of the four left, yours is coming, I promise!)

It's called "Cable Stitch 'Jenna' Headband" from Sadie's Basket.
(Which made it really hard to not want to give this to my good friend Jenna over at Bows and Leopard.)

I think it is more than a headband - it's also an ear warmer so I thought it was the perfect gift for my friend that lives in cold-ass Colorado.

Supplies:
  • Crochet hook ‘I’
  • Simply Soft Yarn
  • 1 or 2 buttons for closure
  • Sewing needle

Abbreviations Used:
  • ch: chain
  • sts: stitches
  • sc: single crochet
  • hdc: half double crochet
  • fptr: front post triple crochet
  • bptr: back post triple crochet

Headband:
-chain 13 (or any number that leaves 4 cable stitches in the middle and an even number of stitches on both sides- So here I wanted 4,4,4 so the ch 13 will make 12 sts)
Row 1: sc in 2nd chain and each remaining chain, turn
Row 2: ch 2 (counts as first hdc here and throughout), hdc in each of the remaining 11 sts, turn (12 sts total)
Row 3: ch 2, hdc in next 3 sts, fptr in post of each of the next 4 hdc, hdc in each of 4 remaining st, turn
Row 4: ch 2, hdc in next 3 sts, bptr in post of each of the 4 fptr, hdc in 4 remaining st, turn
Row 5: ch 2, hdc in next 3 sts, skip the next 2 stitches (sts 1 & 2) and fptr in post of 3rd bptr and 4th bptr, then go back to the 2 skipped sts and fptr in the post of the 1st bptr and 2nd bptr (in that order every time- 3, 4, 1, 2), hdc in remaining 4 sts, turn 
(*make sure when you do the fptr in the 1st bptr and 2nd bptr, you are doing these over top (or in front of) the 3rd and 4th stitches. This is what gives it the cross-over look*)

Row 6: repeat row 4
Row 7: repeat row 5
Row 8: repeat row 4
Row 9: repeat row 5
-Continue this pattern until the headband measures about 19”-20" long, finishing with row 4. (about 20 cross-overs)
-Row ? (however long your headband is): repeat row 3
-Hdc 2 rows as the ending edge. Tie off.

Sew in ends and attach button between the 2 hdc rows at the end. When buttoning the headband, I just slip the button through the middle of the 4 cable stitches- there should be a big enough gap.
 
I struggled a bit with the end. I am pretty sure that was the first time I have ever sewed a button in my life. Hopefully it doesn't fall apart after the first time she uses and. If I lived somewhere colder, I would definitely make one for myself

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Crochet Bow


How cute is this little guy?!

Before Christmas, some of my co-workers were doing some crochet projects that included a bow. I, personally, am not a big bow kind of girl, but that doesn't mean I cant appreciate a cute bow! I immediately came home and searched for a bow pattern on Pinterest.

The other night I finished up a crochet project (to be blogged in a few days - it has to make it to it's recipient before I can blog about it) and I didn't really want to be done crocheting so I decided to make a bow. I chose this one from Abby's Crafts.

Here's how you do it:

Chain 19.
Half Double Crochet (HDC) in 3rd to the last chain. Continue with HDC in each chain so you have 17 HDC's.
Turn, chain two, HDC in the rest of the row. (The two chains counts as one HDC)
Do this until you have seven rows of HDC's.
Weave the string to the center.
Fold 1/4 of the way, like an accordion, so it is folded three times. (Click here for a pic)
Wrap the yarn around the folds.
Tie off.
Weave in the loose ends.

So simple, so cute! Not sure what I will use it for. It would easily slide over a headband... Or maybe I will make a beenie and sew it on... I am sure I will figure out something to do with it. It's too cute not to do something with.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chicken N Dumplin Soup

I absolutely LOVE Chicken N Dumplins. Our friends makes some that are to die for simply because they remind me of home. I don't really know why they remind me of home because I am not sure that I really recall my mom ever making them, but I guess they remind me of home in that they're just good ol' comfort food.

Anywho, K doesn't really like Chicken N Dumplins - she says because there's no veggies. So when I saw this recipe that had veggies in it, I thought I would give it a try.

There was no real adventure in this cooking. It went off without a hitch. Shocking, I know.

I am not really sure how this "soup" differs from the real other than the veggies, but the "soup" was surprisingly delish. (I am often surprised when something I make turns out good. LOL - will that ever go away?) And it was filling!

I was super skeptical with the biscuits... I didn't think they were going to be cooked right, but if I have learned one thing in cooking, it is to trust the process. So, I did and it paid off!

My only complaint? It's not as good as left overs. (Which I also think about real Chicken N Dumplins.) And if there's a next time, I would rather do a fresh veggie medley than used canned.

Chicken and Dumplin’ Soup
10 3⁄4-oz. can cream of chicken soup
4 c. chicken broth
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I poached mine)
2 (15-oz.) cans mixed vegetables
12-oz. tube refrigerated biscuits, quartered (I halved the quarters and still cut them down when I was eating it)
Optional: pepper to taste

Combine soup and broth in a 6-quart stockpot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking until smooth. Stir in chicken and vegetables; bring to a boil. 
Drop biscuit quarters into soup; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Let soup sit 10 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle each serving with pepper, if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe compliments of this blog.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weight Watchers Confirmation

I have been seriously thinking about re-joining Weight Watchers (WW) lately.  While I am not at my biggest, I am probably just a couple pounds shy of my biggest. I told K the other day - I have to do something. I am uncomfortable in my own skin and I just want to be able to cross my legs without having to tuck or hold my foot! 

She had a point - we spend quite a bit of money every month to maintain her health, why shouldn't I be able to do the same for my health? Great point, K. So I have been thinking about joining WW and figuring out if it's even feasible with my weird hours and I will be out of town for two weeks... and can we really budget for it... you know, finding all the reasons to procrastinate or not do it at all. 

And then today happened. 

I was at the grocery store, picking some things up for the week. (I would like it noted that they were even healthier choices! More fruits and veggies, less chips and cookies.)
Anyway, I am in the yogurt section. 
Nearby is a perfectly skinny teenage girl and her perfectly skinny mother. 
As I grab the yogurt I need, I knock a couple packages of gold fish off the little kiosk that I would like to tell myself was set up to close to the yogurts anyway. (Although, I just realized that this is just another confirmation that I need to join WW.)
Me, being the courteous person I am, I squat down and pick them up. 
And I freeze. 
Did that really just happen? 
OMG
I reach back behind my leg and...
 

Yep, it happened. 
There is no Instagram filter to make this situation pretty.
It's as ugly as it gets. 
It's as real as it gets.
Humiliating at first, hysterical later.
Apparently, at some point, the perfectly skinny teenage girl saw what happened because I saw her quickly walk over to her mom and talk to her in hushed tones. 
I calmly removed my sweater and tied it around my waist and finished my shopping. 
A couple aisles later, in the rather drafty frozen food aisle, I run into this perfectly skinny mother daughter combo again and the daughter once again, quickly walks over to her mom to point me out and whisper about my mishap while the mother pretends to be (rather loudly) contemplating what ice cream treat they should get. 
 Go ahead, get your ice cream.... get 10 ice creams... and then when your pants split, you'll remember me and have compassion instead of judgement - skinny bitches. LOL

In my defense, these pants are probably a good 7-10 years old and worn rather thin. 
Needless to say though, thin pants or not, I will be joining WW next month.
Got any good WW recipes you want to share? 

;o)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Waffle Adventure

As you may or may not know, I got K a waffle iron for Christmas. I have been experimenting with waffle recipes - and by experimenting, I mean throwing a little cinnamon in or adding a little vanilla extract to the recipe on the side of the Bisquick box.

I found a couple different pins on Pinterest and when I pinned this pin claiming to be "The Best Waffles", my friend responded telling me that a recipe called "A Great Make-the-Morning-of Waffle" from Orangette blog were the best.

I am hesitant to make a waffle (or a pancake) with a recipe that doesn't use Bisquick because it is often my excuse to get out of having to make them. "Sorry, love, we're fresh out of Bisquick... How about and egg sandwich?" LOL

Anywho, I was feeling chipper and rather generous this morning so I thought, what they heck... why not? I check the cupboard for ingredients and we have everything except Corn Starch. Off to the store I go.

I get home and this is where the adventure begins. I start pulling the ingredients out of the cabinet and putting them on the counter... Sugar - check. Vanilla - check. Baking soda and powder - check, check. Flour - Check. Damnit! Hidden behind the flour was a box of corn starch. I didn't have to go to the store after all. (When I pulled it off the shelf, I discovered it had expired so it wasn't a totally wasted trip.)

I start measuring and throwing the ingredients in the bowl. I get to the buttermilk part, check the date on the carton - expired. Ugh! It's only a couple days past the expiration, maybe its OK. I open it up and sniff it out. *GAG* Definitely ripe smelling and visibly chunky. Gross.

Welp, I hope it works with a whole cup of whole milk instead of the 1/2 cup of buttermilk the recipe called for. :o\

Pour in the last ingredient, and check the recipe to see what's next. Well, obviously, I was to whisk the ingredients together. However, apparently I was supposed to whisk the powdered stuff together first and then whisk again after I added the liquid stuff. *Sigh* Guess I should have read the directions first.

So, I figure I better read the rest of the directions just in case there's any surprises in the rest of the process and low and behold - there was. "Set aside to rest for 30 minutes." What?! Rest? Why does waffle batter need to rest?!

"Well," I say, "How bout a granola bar to hold over your hunger for 30 minutes while the batter rests?!"

I thought I had learned my lesson in reading the recipe/instructions all the way through. Apparently not. Either way, they turned out pretty amazing. I am not a huge waffle fan so I don't know that I am the best candidate to deem them the "best" waffle.

They were most definitely better than the Bisquick waffles. I really liked the crispy quality of them. The recipe doesn't yield much. It made about 3.5 for us which is perfect for just the two of us, but if you want some to freeze or to snack on later, I recommend doubling the batch. Like I said, I am not a huge fan of waffles so I usually only have one. This time, I kind of wanted two.


A Great Make-the-Morning-of Waffle
Adapted slightly from the “Waffle of Insane Greatness” recipe

This waffle works in any kind of waffle maker.

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
1 ½ tsp. sugar
½ cup whole milk
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil, such as canola
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Whisk well. Add the milk, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk to blend well, so that few (if any) lumps remain. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat a waffle iron. Follow your waffle maker’s instruction manual for this, but my guess is that you’ll want to heat it on whatever setting is approximately medium-high. My waffle maker has a heat dial that runs from 1 to 7, and I turned it to 5. There’s no need to grease the waffle maker.

Pour an appropriate amount of batter into your hot waffle maker: this amount will vary from machine to machine, and you should plan to use your first waffle as a test specimen. Cook until golden and crisp.

Yield: depends on the size and configuration of your waffle iron

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Glazed Apple Fritter Cupcakes





Oh. My. Delicious!!!!!

I got this recipe from Chasing Some Blue Sky and I'm calling mine cupcakes - she called them muffins. Mine don't look as pretty as hers do (go ahead and click the link so you can see just how different they look!) I am pretty sure they tasted as good, if not better. (My glaze is much thicker - hence the "better".)

Here's how it goes:

For the Apples:
2 large granny smith apples, 1/4 inch dice
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar


2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup flour
For the Cupcakes:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

For the Glaze:
2 tbsp butter melted
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp hot water

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Line 14 muffin cups with cupcake liners (14? Who has a 14 cup muffin tin?!)
  3. In a skillet add apple ingredients except flour (It was at this point I realized I didn't have enough cinnamon and had to run out to the store. It was the most frustrating cinnamon run of my life. Fortunately, there were no casualties.) and cook over medium heat until apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour to coat apples (this prevents apples from sinking to bottom of cupcakes)
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  5. In a large bowl beat together applesauce, oil, and sugars till smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly  
  6. Stir the flour into the batter alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Gently stir in apples until just combined
  7. Spoon batter into cups (I used an ice cream scoop), filling the cups, and smooth tops (AKA shake the cupcake pan a little to level them out). Divide batter equally among prepared cupcake cups. Bake until cupcake tops are a pale golden and springy to the touch, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. (I checked mine at 15, then added two minutes, then added one minute so I cooked mine for 18 minutes - just in case you failed basic math.)
  8. Cool cupcakes in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 10 minutes before glazing. 
  9. To make the glaze, In a medium bowl mix together the melted butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla and water. Whisk until smooth. (I doubled this.)
  10. When cupcakes have cooled slightly, dip the muffin top into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. Once hardened, dip a second time and allow to harden before serving. (I didn't do the second dip, the glaze was thick enough with the first dip. Not to mention that if the glaze on the cupcake is going to harden, the glaze left in the bowl is going to harden too - and it did.)
Sometimes when I bake or cook a new recipe, I get scared to taste it. I'm not sure if it's because I am scared of a total failure or if it's that I don't want to be disappointed, but I was struggling with trying them. I took half a dozen to K at work to share with her co-workers and I told her to tell me what they're reactions were. Before I even made it home, I got a text that they were a hit so I went right in the house and did my own taste test.

Holy moly those are good!!!! They might have even topped my pumpkin cupcakes I made for Thanksgiving!

I highly recommend this recipe! It's worth every calorie! 



Lucky 2013



I think it's funny how when a new year comes around, people tend to be all motivated to make change. I get it... I am the same way, but in all honesty, people can change no matter what time of year it is! Either way, I am jumping on the New Year band wagon.

I went out to run a couple errands today and I was full - I mean FULL - of rage. It was brutal. People were taking too long, they didn't know how to drive... It was crazy how toxic I was.

The other day, K asked me, "What are you so mad about?" And I couldn't really answer her. I just was. Every. Little. Thing. pissed me off.

So, this evening, I did a little reflecting. I think I get in these funks - sometimes self loathing, sometimes angry, sometimes sad for no reason, you get the point - because there is so much more I want in my life but fail to provide for myself and I have the power to make them all happen. I have no excuse - lack of motivation and self discipline is all it is.

2013. There is always such a stigma around the number 13 that I have always told myself that 13 was my lucky number. If that holds true, 2013 should be my year. Here are a few of the things I want to see happen in my life in 2013, along with a little explanation.

  • Read The Happiness Project. - My sister recommended this book almost two years ago. I finally bought it some time last year, read the first chapter, and put it on the book shelf. I will dust that baby off and dive in. I'm hoping I can get K to read it with me. Might be a good bonding book. 
  • Get organized. - I try to be, I really do. I get motivated and clean house and as long as I stay on top of it, it's easy to maintain. It's amazing how quickly it goes to shit, though. A couple days of laziness and it's suddenly overwhelming again. This month, I will focus on one room a week. Once I get that in order, I will do my best to maintain. Do a little every day.
  • Clear the Clutter. - Our garage is filled with clutter. I got rid of a lot of my stuff when I moved to So Cal but I am a closet book hoarder. I have bins and bins of them. Realistically, I'm not going to read them. I just keep buying new books while the books I've already invested in sit in bins, dusty and unread. My hope was one day to have a library type room in my house, but let's get real... IF we ever have the money to buy a house I doubt it will be big enough to allow for a library. 
  • Get healthy. - It's not even about getting skinny. (Although, skinny would definitely be a welcomed bonus.) I just want to eat healthier. Cut out fast food. Eat carrots instead of cheesy poofs. Have a fruit parfait instead of a drumstick for dessert. Salad instead of PB&J for lunch.
  • Be more active. - I live in a beautiful part of California and while I take advantage of the beach as much as I can, there is so much more to explore! And the weather here permits exploration year round. 
  • Diminish the debt. - This is a constant battle that we just can't seem to win. I want to tackle it this year. I don't expect to be debt free in a year, but I want to make a big enough dent in it where it doesn't feel like we're constantly fighting to keep our heads above water. 
  • Research starting a family. - If we can truly start making some headway on our debt, my hope is that we can get enough ahead that we can seriously consider the possibility of starting a family. I need to look into it more and start talking to people/doctors so we have an idea of how much money we're really looking at and if it is really even an option. (Donations for baby fund welcome. :o)
  • Volunteer. - Sure, I have done the Relay for Life the last two years, but I want to do more. I have often wanted to volunteer in retirement/old people homes. So many of them rarely have visitors and I would love to visit with them - play cards, do a craft, chat over a cup of coffee. When I was a teenager, I would volunteer at the local hospital... maybe I can do that again. Volunteering is food for the soul. I always feel better when I am doing good for someone else. 
  • Find my spirituality. - I'm not really sure what that is, but I would like to get in touch with it and find what's right for me.
  • Be less toxic. - Sure, being catty and judgmental can be fun and bring a good laugh from time to time. But it's bad for you and bad for the people you are judging. For every catty thought I have about someone, I will follow it with something positive about them and I will do my best to not let my catty thoughts become catty remarks.
  • Scrapbook more. - This isn't really a crucial one, but I have sooooo many scrapbooking supplies that just sit in their cubbies collecting dust. Not to mention the memories that I have just waiting to be displayed. I have to remind myself that every page doesn't need to have mind blowing embellishments. Just get the pictures in and do a little journaling to document the memories.
These are just a few things that I want to make happen in 2013. They are all within my control and none of them cost any money (aside from getting out of debt). I think they are all doable and attainable goals. They are all things that I think will feed my soul and fill my happiness tank.

Don't get me wrong, I am not unhappy. In general, I am happy in my life, I just think there are more things I can do that will bring more happiness to my life and make me feel better about myself. Because lets face it, no one enjoys self loathing! 

So here's to 2013 - Oh the possibilities it holds! May we all achieve the goals we set for 2013!!