Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Knitting

Now that it is past Christmas and secret projects have been revealed, please check this "I Made This" post for the socks and bags I made for Christmas.

Unrelated to this and without a clever segue, I am enjoying Trisha Yearwood's Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen which was a gift to me this year.
I made two appetizers from this book that were well received at a party last night. I've been in a rut and trying to shake free of it, something that makes hubby very happy. My mom was a cookbook junkie and I guess I am too. Whatever it takes for inspiration, right?

Have a delicious day!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The finished play house

My grandson, a.k.a. The Prince of Sweetness is two and a half. I was browsing Pinterest and saw a play house that was cute. It led me to searching for more info and when I found a pattern at Empty Bobbin Sewing , I knew I was on my way. I used heavy weight felt, known as "premier" from Joann's for the main walls and roof of the house, also the white felt in the door frame and windows. The other colors are craft felt from the bolt. Sewing felt is easy. I didn't use interfacing and no finishing techniques are required, but I did double stitch the walls and roof, and then zigzaged the seam allowances. I did the door differently from Shea's pattern and ad libbed some of the embellishments.

Here is the front of the house before wall and roof assembly. The door is a flap which can be rolled up. The black lines you see are ribbons with matching ones inside for securing the rolled up door. The bow that ends in large bells under the porch light is my interpretation of a doorbell. The rectangles in the door are just decoration. The window in the door was done the same as the side windows which I will explain a few photos down.
Here is the mailbox open. I didn't photograph the mail that I made addressed to my grandson. I used white fun foam, cut into small rectangles. I drew the envelope flap on one side, printed his name and drew a postage stamp on the other. I don't know if I truly needed special foam markers or not for this, but I had another project coming up to do with kids and foam so I bought the pack of five colors. I am a sucker for craft supplies.
I did not cut away the red fabric from the door until after the walls were sewn together and the roof assembled. I pinned the ribbons and door in place during assembly. It went very smoothly.
One side wall called for two bushes and a window. I changed the window from an opening with felt framing that created a four paned window to what you see here. I had a flexible screening sold as Pet Screening from tote bags that I made a few years ago. I bought the screening at a quilt shop that featured the tote bag pattern. I think if you search for it online, it can still be found. I stitched the flowers to the bushes by their centers only to make them 3D. The dog was added for fun, my own design. His ears an tail are also 3D.
Here is a close-up of the window. I framed it in felt on the inside also. The second view is showing the visibility of the screening.
The other side wall also has a window and a vegetable garden. I saw the garden idea on a few sites but didn't bookmark them so I can't give credit, nor do I know who may have been the first to think of making pockets for the veggies.
My leaf lettuce looks a little sad and my potatoes seem be of a dark chocolate variety, but the carrots are cute.
The back of the wall has a tree. The original pattern had a tree that was partially on the side of the house, partially on the back. I knew I didn't want a window back there, I wanted a picture frame on the inside wall, so I redesigned the tree for the back. Leaves are in both shades of green shown in the garden photo, but the color is off here. I made apples with velcro to change out for the leaves along with one bird. I will probably make autumn colored leaves and maybe even a kite to get stuck on one of the velcro parts of the tree, but that will come later. The bushel basket is my own design and holds the spare leaves and apples.
Our family room is where our grandson's toys are kept. In that room is a watercolor and ink drawing of our home that I did a few years ago. The Prince is fascinated with that picture. I used brown felt and clear vinyl to make a photo frame for his house. It is on the inside with the top of the vinyl left open so that art work, standard printer paper size, can be inserted. For Christmas morning, a print of the front of his playhouse went in the frame, but I hope he will do his own artwork to place in there. These photos have a Fisher Price catalog page in them for display purposes.
I slightly changed the roof line trim from the original pattern. The pattern creates a play house that fits over a standard size card table. When it came time to fit the walls together, I placed them wrong sides out against the table and pinned the seams. My seams are deeper than the pattern recommendations, but not by much.

This was a labor of love, not something I would ever make and sell. I don't sell my crafts in the first place, and beyond that, many would be surprised at the money and time invested. Even below minimum wage, most would balk at the cost. I am fortunate that I've never had to sell my creations for income. I don't mind work, but if my hobbies became my work, the fun would probably disappear for me and the relaxation would definitely be gone.
This doesn't mean I would never make it again. The pattern was well written and you can probably tell that I had a lot of fun with the embellishments. If Colton ever becomes big brother to a little sister, there might be need for a girlier (like that word?) themed play house.


Card Table Play House

I've begun a separate blog for crafts which I am calling I Made This at grandmacrafty(dot)blogspot(dot)com. My plan is to post non-craft posts here, and will provide links to posts on the new blog here.

Without further ado, click here to read about the play house I made for Colton. I had a lot of fun with this and plan to make many more things out of felt since I have so much of it now. Did I say I was diminishing my stash of fabric? I must have meant cottons, not felt.

If any of you have a pull with Mother Nature, please tell her that Christmas is over now. Make the snow stop and take away that which is on the pavement here. Neighbors have never awakened me blowing sunshine and warm temps from their driveway so that they could leave for work. I fully understand what they needed to do this morning so I'm not complaining about them, but Mother Nature, can't you just deposit this stuff on ski slopes and snow mobile trails?

Misplaced Island Girl in SE Michigan. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Festivus!

Are you ready? Are you excited? I am both!

How to cats greet each other at Christmas time?
A furry merry Christmas & Happy Mew Year.

About Santa, some children call him Santa Caus since there is Noel.

I have a friend who is offended by any greeting this time of year except Merry Christmas. I try to remember to use that with her, but I often say Happy Holidays and I do so without meaning to offend anyone. I have never been offended by any greeting that was given warmly or with good cheer, and would hope most people feel the same way. I'm not concerned with political correctness, most often I am thinking Merry Christmas and Happy New Year when I say Happy Holidays. Also, I like alliteration.  The street where I live begins with an H. Years ago our neighbor party that takes place in December was dubbed H**** (name of our street) Holiday Happening. Does a love of puns and alliteration go hand in hand? For me it does, because words are fun.

What does December have that other months don't have?
The letter D.

What is the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the regular alphabet?
The Christmas alphabet has no L.

I can't wait to write about one of the gifts that I made and show the photos. I hope it won't sound boastful, that isn't how I feel. It is about excitement. I had so much fun making a few gifts this year and I hope the recipients feel the fun and love that hopefully were built into them.

What do Christmas trees and bad knitters have in common?
They both drop their needles.

What does a reindeer say before telling a joke?
This one will sleigh you!

My hope for everyone this holiday season and beyond is that you feel loved. May we all give, receive and witness acts of kindness, be they as simple as a smile. May we remember that there is more good in the world than bad, despite media coverage. And lastly, may none of your gifts need to be exchanged!

Why does Scrooge love reindeer?
Because every buck is deer to him.

What did the bald man say when he got a comb for Christmas?
Thanks, I'll never part with it!

What did the salt say to the pepper?
Season's Greetings.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Catching up and changing attitude

The cold that I caught had me down and out for almost three weeks. Three weeks is a long time anytime of year, but before the holidays, a three week setback felt like months. Even as I type this, I know I should not be complaining. Many have it worse. Many are fighting something all year long. I don't mean this to be as much a complaint as an explanation for both writing and visiting your blogs.

I am still having problem accessing my email in my normal fashion. I don't know if the person who is supposedly working on this is ignoring me or doesn't know how to fix the problem and won't admit it. Either way, that frustration continues to simmer.

I've been contemplating starting a new blog and ran into blogger issues. Things that work here won't work the same way on a new blog. Why? Don't ask me. I used the same template, settings, etc. but one thing that won't work the same is the 'About Me' feature. On this blog I have it set so that you see my photo and click to view my complete profile. This is a gadget Blogger offers, not something I created. Under layout, you should be able to set the gadget to show on a particular blog, meaning your written profile will show, or not. A simple check box should decide the matter. On this blog, the box is unchecked. If you want to read my profile, you click by my photo for more info. On a new blog, no matter how many times you uncheck the box and save your changes, it doesn't work.

A person named Nitecruzr on Blogger product forums gave me info on something else that will work, but I'm annoyed that the simple feature doesn't work on new blogs. I'm not afraid of new and improved, I would just like things to actually be improved and still working when changes are made.

To recap so far, I was feeling lousy, coughing enough to worry my husband and sons, frustrated about my email woes and couldn't get blogger to behave. Shall I mention the extremists on Facebook? I thought once the election was over things would settle down but the ones who seem to be screaming about wrongs in existence or wrongs that might happen if A, B and C occur are just as loud as ever. It isn't that they should express their beliefs, it is that they are RIGHT by heavenly decree and anyone who thinks differently is not only WRONG, they are %$#*&^%#@. 

I don't spend a lot of time on Facebook and I try to zip past the stuff that irritates me but I have reason to stay somewhat in touch with the people I am talking about. I know they aren't shouting at me personally, I am just tired of the shouting, even if I basically agree with them.

There is a lot wrong in our world. There is way too much violence. Any violence is too much. If we only focus on that, we become more depressed as the days go by. The contentious posts feel like violence to me. Most of these people are polite in person and would never use the language or make accusations and ultimatums as they do on Facebook.

* Big sigh *

I've become a downer and I don't like that. I need to get back to my happy zone and for one thing, that means more crafting. Whether I start a new blog or redirect my energy here, things will be changing after the holidays. Look for me to be New and Improved, hopefully without any glitches!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To my Blogger friend, Beckie...

First, to everyone, I have been absent with a cold that kept me down for two weeks, and then computer woes, none of which were my doing. Very frustrating. Now it is just my email that needs sorting out due to a server change. I will be back eventually when I am clear headed and better caught up regarding Christmas.

To Beckie, add Blogger to my woes. Your last comment to me showed up under "awaiting moderation" even though it should not have been there according to my settings. I didn't publish it, but attempted to contact you via email. The email I had for you on my computer is lost in the server problem. I thought I had a correct address but it came back as undeliverable.

My thoughts continue to be with you and your family. If you email me directly rather than going through Blogger, I will be able to respond. Hopefully, my server issue will be resolved soon.

Peace to everyone who sees this, and healthy wishes to all.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Are the holidays making you nuts yet?

Did shopping on Black Friday drive you nuts or were you like me and didn't venture out among them (them, being know...nuts)?

Has decorating for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever your December holiday is started yet and either made you crazy with tangled light strands or crazed because it past Black Friday Thanksgiving and you haven't decorated yet? You slackers!

Did your dryer stop working the day before the holiday, leaving you with a load of wet towels? That would have made me nuts but fortunately both sons live nearby and the one who was here when I had my conniption fit stated the problem took the load home to dry at his house.

I haven't done any shopping yet, the projects that will become gifts aren't complete yet, the dryer has been repaired, and you know what? If you don't listen to advertisers, it isn't time to panic yet. Ahhhh.....

Take a breather and watch this

It has nothing to do with holiday madness but might make you smile. If nothing else, it is a short trip down movie (and some TV) memory lane.

If you still feel nuts, or want to hint to someone else that they are nuts, or just need an easy, edible nutty treat, make these as I did for Black Friday Eve, a.k.a. Thanksgiving.

They are cute by themselves, a tasty bite sized combo of peanut butter and chocolate.

And they looked cute surrounding a chocolate Bundt cake.

If you don't follow Pinterest and therefore haven't seen them 173 times, they are made with Nutter Butter Bites (cookies that come in a bag), Hershey Kisses and mini chocolate chips and a bit of melted chocolate to hold the Kiss and chip onto the cookie.
Hubby is talking about getting the Christmas stuff down from the attic this afternoon. Maybe I spoke too early about not feeling nuts yet. I need to turn on some tunes and get into the spirit, Gangnam about nuts!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here we are again, the day before Thanksgiving in the USA. I trust most of you remember that it really is Thanksgiving that we are prepping for today, not Black Friday.

I am getting ready for guests tomorrow but in truth, I have been busier lately working on a Christmas project that I dare not show you yet in case the recipient sees it. Darn....this is killing me!

Meanwhile, best wishes to everyone in Blogland, here in the USA, there (you know where you are) and everywhere. Click on the link below for a Jaquie Lawson greeting.  I'll see Friday when it is just me and the leftovers, and neither of us will be moving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Unspoken sarcasm saves my day

A sense of humor keeps me going. Sometimes the humor is dark, skewed and not something I'd share with everyone, but it prevents me from getting into trouble by defusing anger or saying something that might hurt someone's feelings.

A friend is going though family drama with her adult kids. I am not laughing at her pain and my observations would not be welcome so I listen and nod, but oh my....she has turned into her mother, something she vowed she would not do. She is attempting to rule with an iron fist at all that, and it isn't going well.

Perhaps I watched too many cartoons at an impressionable age, but while she was venting to me about what was going on versus what should be happening, I felt like a light bulb might have appeared above my head when I realized this was a conversation from 30 years ago with her as the mom instead of the ungrateful child. I know I don't have a poker face but thankfully, my look was interpreted as shock that her kids would be so thoughtless. Picture me with a zippered mouth, trying not to look up to see if there was, indeed, a light bulb over my head.
Do you have people in your life that you can't (to use a Facebook term) unfriend ? I'm sure we all do. Most of the time, their foibles (I love that word!) roll off my back, but occasionally those foibles get caught in clothing and annoy the heck out of me. I was getting twitchy over one such person in my life when I decided to simply adopt the Southern phrase "bless her heart" with all of its condescending connotations. I suspect this person has directions posted next to her mirror that remind her
  • Breathe In
  • Breathe Out
  • Repeat as needed, throughout the day
Notice that doesn't say Inhale and Exhale? Looking up those big words in the dictionary might take too long and she'd fall down and go boom. Bless her heart.
Yesterday I went to the Apple store because my iPad died. I suspect the inspiration for Angry Birds came from someone's iPad or iPhone failure. My appearance was much like this between iPad death and iPad resurrection.
The Apple store is in an open air mall that I seldom visit for a variety of reasons. The mall is dog friendly. This isn't why I don't go there often, but it could become a reason.

I love dogs and I have no problem with service dogs in public, but I don't see a need to take your family pet to Nordstrom or Sephora. Where this mall is located, it is highly unlikely that anyone simply strolls there from their neighborhood while walking Fido and decides to pop into a store because something in the window is so tempting.
The mall is five years old and has attractive brickwork for the walkway between stores. Of course I parked at the wrong end of the mall to be near is what I do and then pretend I meant to do that because I should exercise more. As I was hurrying to get to Apple for my 11:30 appointment, I noticed a woman seated on a bench, scrapping her shoes. She hadn't seen the deposit someone's dog left on the brick and stepped in it. A mall employee was scrubbing away at the brick with a stiff broom and water. I'm betting neither of them were happy with the mall being dog friendly.
The iPad was repaired (whew!) and as I turned from the counter at the back of the store, I noticed a woman with a small poodle near the doors. The poodle peed a puddle (I love alliteration!) and the dog owner pretended not to notice. Out she went, leaving a surprisingly large puddle for someone in the store to clean up.
On my way back to the car, I stopped to look at the Swarovski window display. A couple with a huge Boxer went inside. The dog may have been the best trained dog in the world but why does any dog need to go into a store full of crystal???

I felt myself growing agitated but what could I do? I could imagine things that would make me smile! Hmmm, does anyone have an elephant I could borrow? I could track down the dog and owner who left the deposit for the woman to step in and go visit their front porch. Maybe the back porch too, just in case they aren't front door people.

Should I take the elephant to the poodle's house or is there an animal that urinates in greater amounts? Since I need to get the animal inside the house, an elephant isn't the best choice. Research will need to be done.

I will cut the Boxer a break since I don't know that he did any harm in the store, but I may visit that couple with a preschool class that has eaten grape jelly sandwiches and chocolate covered grahams on the way to their home. The kids might not touch a thing. I'd just like to watch the couple sweat it out.
Quietly, sarcastically yours,

Bless your hearts. Mine too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My daughter-in-law (Kim) and I had our second and last class with the instructor from the gourmet apple class.  Click here for that blog entry Eighteen people in one crowded room and only one microwave for melting chocolate was not a good set up.

Here we have a snowman and a chocolate spoon for your coffee.
The snowman might be okay for kids, but isn't something we will eat nor is it that attractive.  Using Nerds for the facial features is awkward because they are small and I don't like that they aren't uniform in size. If I were going to make these again, I would use melted dark chocolate and add the features, or use an edible marking pen.

The spoon as is, is just lame in my opinion.

The instructor really thought this was La-di-dah fancy. One Twinkie is cut on an angle and placed on either side of a whole Twinkie. Canned frosting was used and a "Spoon-fork from Taco Bell" (direct quote from her directions) is to be used to make it look like a log.
It would look more like a traditional Yule log with only one limb off the main log, and it needs to be smaller. This almost looks like back to back parentheses to me )(   A friend delicately pointed out that it reminded her of something that happens when she walks her dog. 

I am not a fan of spearmint gum drops because the flavor is over powering so I would not use them for holly leaves, and the red hots she gave us were too big to look nice. I would use red and green frosting to make the holly leaves and berries, but in reality, I won't be making this again. It cannot easily be picked off the wax paper and transferred to a plate. 

Snowball anyone?
Setting a chocolate covered round object on paper to dry results in a flat edge. This was almost unavoidable last night. There was barely enough room to work much less have a rack for the snowballs.  I would have liked these as a kid, but the confectioners sugar-butter-peanut butter center was achingly sweet to me.

How about some mice?
Cute idea, but I don't like the corn flake ears. The original idea with almonds is cuter in my opinion.
She wanted the same holly berry and leaves on the side of the mouse. Kim tried one. It was huge compared to the mouse and just not attractive. Here is that idea done with piping gel.
The Oreos are were soft the following morning. They were in a covered container with the Twinkie log. I don't know if splitting the Oreo open caused that or if the frosting on the Twinkie was too much moisture in the container. If I felt that had to go on a cookie platform, a chocolate covered graham cracker might hold up better, but I think they are cuter just by themselves.
I may sound overly critical but for what we paid on the class, not to mention supplies, this was disappointing. We were each told to bring 15 Oreos, 15 Hershey Kisses, 15 Maraschino cherries and  3 T. of butter. I bought supplies for both Kim and myself, therefore doubled everything. We used a total of 16 items between the two of us and only half of the butter. Do I sound irritated that the supply list was incorrect? I am.

Last month, in the caramel and chocolate apple class, she told us that chocolate would not adhere to an apple without the caramel. I took her word for it. Kim made 15 apples this week for her co-workers without the caramel and they turned out just great. They were much easier to slice and eat, and were pleasantly sweet as opposed to the caramel ones which were too much.

She told us last night to sift confectioners sugar on the Twinkie logs to look like snow. Not a good idea.... You can do that just before serving, but not in advance. The sugar will be absorbed into the frosting. When I asked her about this happening, she said she didn't think that would happen. Huh? Oh yeah, she's a real professional... Not.

Kim and I did have fun just being together, but there is no way we would take another class at this location or from this instructor.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday moaning

The weather is like my hair in the shower. Gray, wet and messy.

My mood isn't truly gray so what am I moaning about? Some people on Facebook are still posting pot shots at the other party even though the election is over. Gloating and mud slinging aren't good for the country and aren't healthy for any individual. I am reading there less and enjoying life more.

Speaking of hair, my hair and nails seem to like the Biotin I've added to my daily regimen. I had to cut my nails yesterday after discovering I could not manipulate the release on the shoulder harness to my grandson's car seat. My thumb nails were too long to get in there and push properly. My bangs seem to have sprouted overnight and need trimming. I promise not to do that myself. Even if it is tempting. That isn't really a complaint, is it? Just a little moan?

A sock knitting project has turned into a Goldilocks story. The first pair turned out well. The second pair, using a different yarn, is a fairy tale. Size 1 needles were too big (like the too hard bed and too hot porridge). Size 0 needles were too small (like Mama Bear's mattress and grub). I am waiting the arrival of baby bear's metric size 2.25 to start them again.

The scarf that I referred to as being knit with cobwebs is doing better. Its life was in jeopardy when I had to unknit 6 rows to correct a mistake that someone made
 The pesky little fibers that make up the fuzz of mohair decided in some sections to hold hands, hanging on for dear life, as I swore at coaxed them into cooperation. I guess my knitting moan is more of a sigh. Hard to believe I do this for fun, isn't it?

I will be putting on my superwoman cape (waterproof version today) and beginning a big sewing project. Tonight I have Copic Club, also known as playing with markers, at the nearby scrapbooking store. Don't worry. I won't run with scissors.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Whew! I've survived another election!  If you are happy with the election results, congratulations. If you aren't, my condolences. I am happy that a definitive conclusion came about as quickly as it did. I feared problems or protests would drag this on for days.

I hope both parties learned something about the voters during this election. My fear is that the two parties have become such big businesses, they don't truly listen to us, the voters, despite all the polling. To me, it feels like they react to a poll by attempting to put a favorable spin on things. Is either party really listening to what the majority of us wants, or are they running with their own interests and answering to lobbyists and mega bucks contributors, then attempting to tell us what we want and need?

My wish now is that both parties will realize that compromise is not defeat and that we are ALL in this together. I am not so involved in politics that I personally witness elected officials of one party immediately disregarding anything said or offered by someone of the opposite party, but I sure have seen plenty of that among voters lately. That is as political as I intend to get.

Peace, bipartisan peace, to all.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Move over cobwebs and spiders....

Sometimes I need to challenge myself in a knitting project.

Sometimes I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I decided to challenge myself!

I finished a pair of socks and have more planned to knit, but need a project that I can work on while at the yarn store and my next pair of planned socks will be yarn from a different source. Stealth yarn.
I should have put them on for the picture or invest in a pair of sock forms. They look better in person than in the photo. The yarn used is Ty-Dy sock yarn by Knit One Crochet Too, color name is Arizona.

Onto the challenge project: I am working with mohair, making a scarf called the December Scarf from Sheera, available on Ravelry. This is the scarf as depicted on the pattern directions:
The designer used cashmere. I am knitting with mohair in a very pale lavender shade. Lavender is not my usual choice by a long shot. I think this is going to be a gift, but I won't be certain until it is done.
The lace design isn't a challenge for me. I'm not boasting, I've just been knitting a long time. The challenge is the yarn. Hubby looked over at me while knitting and asked if I was knitting a cobweb. The yarn does look gray from across the room without a light background.
Mohair is very fine and can be slippery on needles. The needles I am using are Harmony needles from Knit Picks. They are laminated birch needles. I might be better off using bamboo (they aren't quite as smooth) but I really like the feel of Harmony so I'm not inclined to switch. Not yet, anyway.

Yesterday, while knitting with the group at the yarn store, I had a mishap with the yarn and pulled a bunch of stitches off my needle. I said a four letter word and it wasn't "yarn" or "knit". I got back on track with only undoing a few rows before resuming the pattern. I continued to knit last night without hiccups and am further along than the photo now.

Non-knitters might not realize that some people knit with dog hair that has been worked into yarn. We don't have a dog now, but I do have cobwebs. I think I am going to quit doing housework and cultivate those cobwebs. I might not be able to knit with them at the store but my home's cobwebs might be sturdier than the mohair yarn and I could just drape them around me as an accessory. I think I'm onto something!!

Hmm, I wonder if they are dye-able?