Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Climbing Stash Mountain

The snows have melted on Stash Mountain and I’m ready for a springtime hike to enjoy the flowers.

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Okay, there really wasn’t any winter snow on the huge amount of craft stash I own, but it feels as though my UFO good intentions have grown to mountainous proportions.
Something must be done or archaeologists will be digging up my old bones 500 years from now and wondering what the hell I was doing.

Just in time to rescue me from myself is the April is Stash Bust effort. Go here for more information and the prizes involved if you submit (not required) a winning project. They’ll also be offering tutorials specifically targeting stash busting.

Along with catching up on some scrapbooking, making more crochet-edged pillowcases, trying out the pile of new recipes I’ve collected, and numerous other activities, the following are a few of my UFO projects I plan to finish in April.

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Knitting and sewing—I’m my own craft and fabric store; if you need something, I probably have it.

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Cross-stitch and other embroidery projects galore could keep me occupied for years.

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More knitting (I have a huge Rubbermaid bin chockfull of yarn, patterns, and books)

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Flowers to enjoy—well, this one isn’t a stash project, but I’ll have to emerge from all my enthusiastic endeavors to just enjoy life.
Can I make it up and over Stash Mountain? I’ll report my progress at the end of April.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Resting My Weary Head

A beautifully made bed with fresh line-dried sheets and comfy pillows is my reward at the end of the day.

When I joined Cassie’s month-long On the Edge Pillowcase Crochet Along at the You Go Girl blog, I was somewhat apprehensive about the crochet assignment for the final week. But I’ve wanted to learn to crochet for some time now and felt this would be the perfect project with which to begin.

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The sewing of the pillowcases and the blanket stitch embroidery along the edges were easily accomplished. My first effort at crocheting one of my four pillowcases was pretty slow and terribly messy. After viewing Anna's (Thimbleanna) finished beauties, I removed my offending crochet work and tried again.

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My crocheted edges are not perfect, but I think they’re great for my first venture into this technique. I’m so appreciative of the way Cassie planned this whole Crochet Along venture, each week was a pleasant delight and I did indeed learn something new—you can’t go wrong with that.

O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.
~Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg - Her Dream

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blessings Friday: Dare to Meet the Daffodils

Wintertime, although an odd sort of nonsensical season here in Tucson, leaves me feeling dull and drab. Spring has brought a renewed sense of energy and invokes its own colorful way of embracing the world.

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This past week brought me a cheerful bouquet of daffodils, the gift of a neighbor. I photographed them to make a thank-you card. After the drab colors of winter, daffodils are nature’s buttery goodness.

To dispel winter’s dreariness each year, Emily Dickinson forced daffodils to bloom. I wish I’d thought of doing something similar over the winter. Spring ignored my forgetfulness and came just in time to remind me that daffodils happily bloom without any aid from us.

"I dared not meet the Daffodils
For fear their Yellow Gown
Would pierce me with a fashion
So foreign to my own"
Excerpt from Poem 348 (Robin) - a poem by Emily Dickinson
As Emily infers, the bold color of daffodils reminds us of the dullness in ourselves during the bleak time of year and the dazzling brightness of the flowers strutting their stuff in the sunshine. The whole concept reminds me I’m responsible for my own happiness, no matter the time of year.
The simple gift of daffodils cheered my soul so marvelously, I’m doing a bit of emotional spring cleaning on myself and daring to meet the daffodils.
Have a happy weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Greetings from Knit Café: Keyboard Cover

Now that I have my new zoomie desktop computer, I thought I’d make something for it—sooo not techie, but oh well.

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For the last 15 years, I’ve been using strictly laptops, so having a keyboard not integrated into a comprehensive system is relatively new to me. Since I can’t close the lid like I used to do with my laptop, I figured the new keyboard is going to need a dust cover. My yarn is one skein of Plymouth Yarn Co.’s Jeanee (color #33) purchased at Purl’s in Tucson.

The pattern I used comes from  Greetings from Knit Café.

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I found this moon/star embroidered patch at JoAnn’s and thought it would be great for putting on my new keyboard cover—just a bit of fun for me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Giving Myself a Little Sugar

Although it’s lovely to enjoy professional beauty treatments now and then, the costs involved are increasing relative to rising economic challenges. Such extravagances don’t make me feel truly relaxed when later I’m thinking I spent too much money as I walk out the spa door.

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Recently, a wonderful sugar scrub recipe was posted on the French Larkspur blog. I made a double batch to slather on my legs.

Lately I’m interested in doing quiet projects, things that invoke a feeling of mindful gentleness but aren’t expensive. To add to Tracey’s projects at the French Larkspur blog, I’m also trying Amy Karol’s (Angry Chicken blog) Mailorder #11 booklet’s 16 recipes for health and beauty.

Monday, March 22, 2010

On the Edge: A Firm Foundation

My homework for Week 3 of the On the Edge Pillowcase Crochet-along is done.

We were tasked to create a firm foundation to set the stage for the soon-to-come crochet component by blanket stitching around the edge of the pillowcase (4 pillowcases for me).

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Today starts Week 4 and the actual crochet effort which is going to really start earning the chocolates-necessary rating for me as this is the part where I’ve no experience. But that’s the fun of it, learning something new.

Source: Dove® Chocolate
Last week’s difficulty rating was 3 chocolates; here’s my Dove chocolate choice for that aspect of the project—ever so yummy.
Dear Dove Chocolate:
This week requires more chocolate, so please get your kettles going.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig

I wish you all the blessings of St Patrick's Day and the "luck of the Irish" with it!

Source: Wikipedia (permission to use via GNU Free Documentation License)

Since the shamrock symbol is a popular one for today, I’ve knit a dishcloth using Kris Knit’s free pattern. Even while washing dishes, I can still hope for lucky blessings.

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I have to be away for a few days, so I’ll not post again until Monday. May the rest of your week be full of blessings.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hammering It Out

My friends Paula and Dee were interested in trying a washer stamping tutorial I saw on A Little Tipsy blog. We gave it a try yesterday.

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I put together kits for us with all the supplies needed, including a 40-piece 1/8" Letter/Number Stamping Set I bought at Harbor Freight for each of us as well as the printed instructions.

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The workshop echoed with our hammering as we imprinted various words meaningful to us on numerous washers. We worked on a huge slab of granite Paula’s husband Sam put on the workbench for us. The tutorial was easy to follow and we quickly conquered the process.

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Then we moved on to fancier treatments. Sam taught us how to use a drill press and various tools so we could make holes in some of the washers to add jump rings.

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Here I’m holding one of the washers with a clamp and using a drill to smooth the edges in the hole made by the drill press.

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Dee contributed Tim Holtz products and inks, so we tried those on the washers which made for some really great effects.

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Paula added bling using Swarovski crystals. We ended up with a pile of fun washers (not all are seen here) and lots of plans for their use.

Although we started with a great tutorial, I love how each of us extended it to include our own personalities and creative concepts. It was such a fun day we decided to try new projects together more often.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Project Readiness: On the Edge

We’re beginning Week 3 of the On the Edge project hosted by Cassie at the You Go Girl blog.

Cassie’s instructions for Week One were to gather supplies. She rated that assignment as Difficulty Level: 1 Dove Chocolate. You just have to love a project rated via the number of chocolates you need.

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Instead of making one set of pillowcases, I’ve opted to make two so enough fabrics were found at Jo-Ann’s to help me meet my goal. Both prints work pretty well together, one is sand dollars and the other a large print that actually emulates a bit of the sand dollar design.

First thing I do after purchasing fabric is wash it all and hang it on the clothesline. Seeing my next project blowing in the breeze makes me happy.

Source: Pantone

Turquoise is Pantone’s color of the year—works out nicely for me.

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Week 2 (last week) was to Construct a Posh Pillowcase, Difficulty Level: 2 1/2 chocolates. Here are my four finished pillowcases with the crochet yarn I’ll use for each set. Cassie’s pillowcase tutorial was easy to follow.

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While waiting for Week 3 to start, I bought a crochet book and have been watching YouTube videos and practicing since I don’t know how to crochet at all.

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To keep everything together, I assembled a kit using an Amy Butler scrapbook tote. Today begins Week 3 of the On the Edge project and I’m excited about moving forward.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blessings Friday: Life is Fun

Here we are at the end of another week. Doesn’t time seem to have zoomed a bit faster lately? Anyway, here are things making me happy lately.

FIRST, you absolutely must watch this YouTube video my friend Peggy emailed to me. I about fell over laughing--trust me, you’ll love it.

Sometimes the Internet deities decide not to allow embedded links to work properly, so here’s the link in case the video doesn’t work on my blog.

I’m not a Manolo kind of girl; instead, I’m loving my new Sanuk Scribble Sidewalk Surfers, a hybrid shoes/sandals I bought at North Shore Ocean Headquarters in Oahu, but you can find them at various sources on the Internet such as here.

Designed by a California surfer, Sanuk is a Thai word meaning “fun and happiness.” And yes they are. I love the little graphics and the embroidery bits. Since I used to surf, they bring back vague memories of having once been young, flexible, skinny and carefree.

The correct way to weigh yourself—I can't believe I was doing it wrong all these years.

My sister Connie emailed this to me the other day. WE MUST SPREAD THE WORD.

Spring is coming, can you feel it? Maybe that’s why I feel like gamboling about like a lamb. Photo source unknown; I received it in an email (don’t you just love email?).

Don’t forget Daylight Saving Time—the clock changes for many of you on Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 2 a.m. in the U.S.

I’m off to work on a sewing project, so have a yummy weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Debbie Bliss Lined Bag

The second of my three projects from the Debbie Bliss Simple Living book is done.

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I liked Debbie’s idea of knitting a lined bag for the bathroom; it’s huge and will hold quite a lot. For my pictures, I draped one of my linen hand towels I made and shared with you last week.

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The same seashell fabric I used for lining my slippers project from the same book worked for this bag, too. While Debbie used regular round buttons on her handles, I opted for golden ones, a starfish on one side and a fish on the other. The straps are sewn to the sides of the bag so the buttons are merely decorative.

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The bag is knit using two strands of cotton for each stitch. Around the near middle of the bag is where I forgot about doing the moss stitch. I’m okay with that as it actually looks kind of interesting to me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Minh’s Vietnamese Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls

I appreciate everyone’s help yesterday with my knitted slippers dilemma. I shall overcome the problem and make the slippers work. Once done, I’ll let you know how it worked out.

Today I want to share a cooking project I enjoyed working on with some friends. My friend Minh is Vietnamese; she generously offered to teach a group of us how to make her family’s pork and shrimp egg rolls. Janel offered to host this event at her house and helped Minh translate the recipe to English for us.

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First thing is to wash your hands really well. Actually, I took this picture during our preparations and thought it was really nice so I just want to show it to you.

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Janel had tables everywhere because there were so many of us crowding her house. In this picture, Margie (on left) and Dena (her daughter on the right) are working with the egg roll wraps. Both of them are also members of my UFO crafting group. They’re a riot and make me laugh a lot.

We made two versions—pork and shrimp which was quite considerate of Minh since I’m allergic to the shrimp component. Everything was carefully segregated so I didn’t fall over dead from contact.

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Once the egg rolls were ready, it was time to cook them in the fryers we all brought. Living in Tucson means you can do lots of activities outside, so we lined up our electric fryers on Janel’s back porch.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved. (I don't know why Blogger is turning this photo sideways, but I give up trying to remedy the problem.)

Here are some of the egg rolls frying their little selves. Minh taught us a trick for this; you add a teeny bit of vinegar to the hot oil and it keeps the oil from boiling over when you put in the egg rolls. Another trick was to stand the egg rolls up on one end around the pot as you can see in the photo.

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In this photo, Minh demonstrates how to prepare an egg roll for eating by wrapping it in lettuce with some mint leaves. Naturally we all had to eat a few egg rolls right away.

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We spent the whole day making hundreds of egg rolls. Every participant went home with large bags of each version. The shrimp egg rolls were pounced on by my shrimp-loving husband.

Minh kindly said I can share her recipe with you. Since it’s quite involved and too much to post, I’ve converted it to a PDF document you can access here or via my Tutorials section in the right-hand column.

This was a wonderful day learning a delicious recipe and cooking together with friends. Thank you, Minh and Janel!