Thursday, December 31, 2015

More Handbags for Little Girls

You can find the pattern for my Handbag for Little Girls here.  The bag pictured below shows a variation on the same pattern.  The only difference is instead of making a flap 10 single crochet stitches across, this one has a flap the length of the back created with double crochet stitches.






This is another version of the same bag.  The possibilities are literally endless!






You might also like:

Handbags for Little Girls

Monday, December 21, 2015

Recipe - Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

Image from Mooss


I often make these for Christmas gifts for friends and family.  They are a big hit and I recommend them highly!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 pound chocolate chips or melting chocolate of choice (the higher quality the chocolate, the better the results!)

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter and softened butter.  Mix well.  Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a wax-paper-lined cookie sheet.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe dish at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval.  Be careful not to overcook the chocolate, as it will seize (solidify and become un-meltable).  Dip balls and place on wax paper to harden.  Makes about 24 balls.

TIP!  If you are making these for a crowd or to give as gifts, you might want to double or
triple the recipe.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Reflection - Angels Sing





In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

           "Glory to God in the highest heaven,
                   and on earth peace to this on whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:1-14






Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Humble Washcloth



People swear by these for washing their dishes.  I would argue that they are also great for face and body.  This simple yet pretty washcloth can be whipped up in not much more than an hour, depending on your skill level.

Besides being easy to make and useful, these washcloths also make great homemade gifts.  Add them to a spa or kitchen-themed gift basket for a homemade touch.





Washcloth

Materials:

1 skein worsted weight cotton yarn.  I used Sugar 'n Cream light blue
size I hook

Chain 34.  Double crochet in the third chain from hook.  Continue to end of row.
Chain 2.  Double crochet to end of row, turn and repeat.
Finish with a single crochet border

One skein of cotton yarn should yield two washcloths this size.

This pattern is CRAZY easy.  You can use it to make blankets as well, just chain more to start.  Also, if you want a bigger washcloth, just chain more stitches at the start.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Reflection - Mary's Song

Image by GLady

And Mary said, 
   "My soul glorifies the Lord 
       and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
   for he has been mindful 
      of the humble state of his servant.  
   From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
      for the Mighty One has done great things for me -
      holy is his name.  
   His mercy extends to those who fear him, 
      from generation to generation.  
   He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; 
      he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  
   He has brought down rulers from their thrones 
      but has lifted up the humble.  
   He has filled the hungry with good things 
      but has sent the rich away empty.  
   He has helped his servant Israel, 
      remembering to be merciful 
   to Abraham and his descendants forever,
      just as he promised our ancestors."

Luke 1:46-55



Thursday, December 10, 2015

Laundry Soap


Today I thought I'd share with you the laundry soap I make for our family.  It's quick, easy and effective.  I can't remember where I got the recipe or if I tweaked it from an original.  It's been several years and I have it written on a scrap of paper.

In full disclosure, I don't use this laundry soap exclusively.  I also use a homemade liquid laundry soap (which I'll share at another time) and store-bought detergents.  I like Arm and Hammer Sensitive for a store-bought variety.  I try and do what is cheap at the time without getting stuff that will irritate my family's skin.

Not only a great addition to your cleaning arsenal, this homemade soap also makes a great gift.  Just add it to a jar, make a label and tie on a bow.  It's a nice way to spread the joys of more natural living with friends and family

Give it a try and see if you like it.  It's cheap enough!

Laundry Soap

Ingredients:

3 bars shaved soap (Fels Naptha, Zote, Ivory or a combination)
1 1/2 cups borax
1 1/2 cups washing soda
1 1/2 cups baking soda

Shave soap on the smallest holes of a hand grater.  Add borax, washing soda and baking soda.  Mix thoroughly, but be sure not to create a cloud of soap dust in the air.  It can irritate sensitive facial skin.  Use 1/8 cup per load or 1/4 cup for heavily soiled loads.  Use as you would any other powdered detergent.  This soap is for warm or hot water loads as it will not dissolve completely in cold water.

This soap has no fragrance, so some people add Downy crystals.  These are NOT sensitive-skin friendly, but many people like the scent.

TIP!: For a nice rinse with a natural fabric softener, add plain white vinegar to your softener dispenser.  Your clothes will come out fresh and clean and will not smell of vinegar.

TIP!: You can find Borax, washing soda, Fels Naptha and Zote in the laundry aisle of your local Walmart.  Some grocery stores also carry these products.

TIP!: If you want even more cleaning action, add 1 1/2 cups cheap oxygen cleaner from Dollar Tree.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Watermelon Candy Granny Stripe Afghan





This year has been the year of crochet blankets for me.  They work up so much faster than knit and are a lot of fun to make.  The most recent one I made was so bright and fun.  This blanket is an easy take on the granny square, only done in a stripe.  My kids loved the colors and commented as I was making it that it looked like watermelon.






Watermelon Candy Granny Stripe Afghan

Materials:
2-3 skeins Red Heart Spring Green
2-3 skeins Red Heart White
2-3 skeins Red Heart Pretty n' Pink

Hook Size: J

Instructions:

Here's a link to a site with instructions on how to make a blanket similar to this.

My color pattern, as you can see is two rows of white, two rows of pink, two rows of white, two rows of green, etc.

I finished this afghan with a single crochet and scalloped edge border.  First I did a row of white single crochet around the edge of the entire blanket, followed by a row of green single crochet.  Then, with the pink I made the scallop.  This is done by double crocheting three into one stitch, followed by a two slip stitches into the next two stitches.  The pattern is then repeated.



Recipe - Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Image by mccartyv

Do you follow a gluten free diet?  Are you wondering what you can serve your gluten free friends and family this Christmas?  Here's one idea.


Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
I'm not sure where this recipe is from but there are many versions of it floating around the Internet

Ingredients:

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream peanut butter and sugar.  Add baking powder and egg.  Form 1-inch balls.  Bake 10 minutes.

Because they don't contain flour, these cookies eat more like candy, so be careful how many you gobble up at once!

You might also like:
Grain-Free Garlic Rosemary Crackers
Kale Chips


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday Reflection - Hope


Picture by Unsplash


Spiritually, I've been through the wringer in the past couple of years, letting go of some old ideas and thinking on some new ones.  Regardless of where I stand, I have always loved Christmas and what it means.  The story of how Jesus came to Earth calls forth in me something that transcends sentimentality.  It's the story of peace and new beginnings.  It's the story of the hope one man brought to humanity.

Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin to be pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendent of David.  The virgin's name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."

How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."

Luke 1:26-35 NIV

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Family Recipe - Sweet and Sour Kielbasa

Image found here.


If you're looking for a great appetizer to bring to your family function this holiday season, try this.  Sweet and Sour Kielbasa is a crowd favorite from my mom's recipe collection.  She makes it, I make it, and now I've passed it on to a few friends who will pass it on to a few friends.  It's one of those dishes that's gone soon after it's served.

Sweet and Sour Kielbasa is certainly not on any diet food list, but if you want to lighten it up a little, feel free to use turkey kielbasa.  This recipe is also great doubled or even tripled.  You can even get away with doubling the meat and not the sauce, depending on how much sauce you like.  Try it by the recipe the first time round and then experiment as you see fit.

Sweet and Sour Kielbasa

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups ketchup
1/4 cup brown mustard
2 pounds kielbasa
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 cups brown sugar

Cut meat into 1-inch chunks.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a crock pot and add the meat.  Cook on low 4-5 hours

Enjoy!

Nutrition Information - regular kielbasa (brands may vary)
Serves 10
1 serving =
350 calories
16 grams fat
41 grams carb
0 grams fiber
13 grams protein

Nutritional Information - turkey kielbasa (brands may vary)
Serves 10
1 serving =
241 calories
5 grams fat
39 carb
0 grams fiber
15 grams protein

Nutrition information calculated using CalorieCount.

Weight Watchers Points Plus - regular kielbasa- 10  turkey kielbasa- 7
Weight Watchers POINTS - regular kielbasa- 8 turkey kielbasa- 5

If you're looking for another great party recipe, try spinach bread!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cute Handbag for Little Girls




Just the other day, I had finished my seventh blanket of the year and I was ready for something simple and quick.  The idea for a little girls handbag popped into my head and in about five or six hours the project was complete.  This cute little pocketbook is very simple to make and is a great gift for any little girl in your life.  It uses a simple double crochet stitch for the body of the bag and a single crochet for the handle and button closure.  I also made a simple flower and leaf to attach for some flair.





Little Handbag

Materials:
scraps of yarn
I used Red Heart Pretty n' Pink, Spring Green and White
1 button

Hook size: J

Instructions:

For the body of the bag:

Chain 30.

Double crochet into the second stitch and continue to the end of the row, turning your work.  After you turn your work, double crochet into the back of each of the chains and join the row with a slip stitch.

Chain two and continue double crocheting another round, joining with a slip stitch.  Repeat until bag reaches desired height.  My bag is about 8 inches.

For the button clasp

Find the middle of the bag and join a new piece of yarn.  Single crochet ten across.  Continue for 8 rows.

Single crochet 4.  Chain 2. Single crochet 4.  This will make your button hole.

Single crochet across row, with 2 single crochets in the chain 2 space.

Skip the first stitch and the last stitch, single crocheting 8 across.

Sew an appropriately-sized button where the hole meets the bag.

For the strap:

Keeping the bag flat, find where you would like to join the strap on the side.  Single crochet 7.  Continue until strap is about 30 inches long.  Join to opposite side using single crochet for a sturdy join.

For the flower:

Check out this YouTube video. Once you have made a flower, simply sew it on with yarn.




Friday, November 27, 2015

Recipe - Easiest Homemade Pancake Syrup



So, I know some of you will insist on real maple syrup.  I get it.  It's natural, delicious and truly cannot be copied.  However, if you're looking for a cheap alternative that's easy and still yummy you should try this.  I bought the bottle of extract for less than $4 at Walmart and it's taken me over a year to use even three quarters of it.

Pancake Syrup
This recipe comes off of the back of the Watkins Imitation Maple Extract box.

Ingredients:

1 cups boiling water
2 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon imitation maple extract

Bring water to boil in a medium pot.  Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in extract.  

The box suggests serving warm, but I typically let the syrup cool and pour it into an old syrup bottle with the help of a funnel.

If you're not into the fake stuff, I've heard of people who will make the simple syrup and instead of adding maple extract, they add real maple syrup.  If you have done this, please comment below!  I'd love to hear your results.

This syrup goes wonderfully with Mom's Pancakes!





Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving



I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I pray you are blessed with the presence of friends, family and loved ones as the official start to the holiday season begins.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Recipe - Best Ever Rolls




You need to make these rolls!  With or without a bread maker, I'm sure these rolls will turn out fantastic.

Betty Crocker Bread Machine Rolls
recipe by: Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

1 cup water
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
3 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Measure ingredients as stated and place in machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.  Select dough/manual cycle.  Do not use delay cycle.  When complete, remove dough from pan and let rest 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.  Grease a 13X9 pan.  Divide dough into 16 sections and shape into balls.  Place balls in four rows of four in pan.  The dough will touch.  Cover and let rise 30-40 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake rolls 12-15 minutes or until just golden.  Cool or serve warm.


Nutrition Information:
Serves 16
1 serving =
123 calories
2 grams fat
23 grams carb
1 gram fiber
3 grams protein

Calculated at Calorie Count.com

Weight Watchers Points Plus - 3
Weight Watcher POINTS - 2

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Best Moist Bread Stuffing

Just in time for Thanksgiving, you can enjoy this family favorite.  If I'm going to guess, it will be the best stuffing you have ever had!  You can thank my mom once again for another great recipe.  She spent many years searching for the perfect recipes and creating new recipes to fill her recipe collection.  Many of my friends and family have her recipe book and I hope you enjoy some of the things I have shared from it.  This one is a definite keeper.

Moist Bread Stuffing

Ingredients:

11/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons diced celery
12 cups white bread, torn into pieces (try using this LINK white bread)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Put torn bread in a large bowl.  Melt butter in a medium frying pan and saute onions and celery on medium-high heat until tender.  Pour butter, onions and celery onto torn bread.  Add seasonings and mix.  Pour water over everything and mix well.  Place in the cavity of a chicken or turkey and bake.  Or, place in a baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated throughout.  If you like a crust on the top, remove the lid of the baking dish for the last 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Recipe - Favorite White Bread for Bread Machines




Traditional White Bread
1.5-pound loaf
From Sunbeam Breadmaker Instruction Manual

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons hot water
2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread machine flour
5 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Attach the kneading blade into the bread pan and place ingredients in machine in order according to your machine's instructions.  Carefully insert pan into bread maker and close the lid  Choose express bake and press start.  

My machine's express bake takes just under an hour.  I prefer this bread to the longer process loaves. 


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Recipe - Hummus

Image by PDPics
Another from my mom's collection, this recipe is great for parties or every day.  You can pair it with cut vegetables or triangles of pita bread.  It is also great on sandwiches, spread on bread as you would mayonnaise.


Hummus

Ingredients:

1 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained*
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a small skillet gently shake sesame seeds over low heat until very lightly browned.  In a food processor puree seeds, garlic, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup oil until smooth.  Add chickpeas, lemon juice and remaining cup of 1/4 cup oil.  Process until smooth.  Serve with vegetables or pita bread.

*You can use 2 cups of cooked chickpeas prepared from dry if desired.  Preparing dry beans is a simple and easy way to save money and control your ingredients at the most basic level.

Nutrition Information:
Serves 6
1 serving =
425 calories
24 grams fat
42 grams carb
12 grams fiber
14 grams protein

Calculated at CalorieCount.com

Weight Watchers Points Plus - 11
Weight Watchers POINTS - 10

While healthy, this is definitely NOT a diet recipe!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Recipe - Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites



Inspired by a few recipes like this one and this one, here's what I came up with for a healthy and delicious snack.  I think it's as yummy as it is healthy!

Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups oats
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons raw honey
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup chocolate chips - mini or regular

Combine first 5 ingredients until well mixed.  Add in chocolate chips.  Form into balls.  Place into container and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Recipe - Easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Chicken Broth



Are you looking for an easy way to serve up a healthy dinner on a busy day. This chicken could be your answer.  A friend once mentioned to me she made chicken like this and I've made it often since.  It's simple and delicious.


3-4 pound chicken with giblets and neck removed.  Seasoned with adobo and parsley.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken
seasoning of choice such as 
  • adobo - a personal favorite, Goya brand specifically (no msg)
  • homemade seasoned salt
  • salt, onion powder, garlic powder, poultry seasoning
  • A-1 dry rub
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley flakes

Put chicken in slow cooker and season to taste.  Turn slow cooker to low for 5-6 hours, depending on size of chicken.

I usually buy a smaller chicken as I have a slow cooker on the small side.  My chickens are usually around 3-4 pounds and take around 5 hours to cook.  If you want the meat to fall off the bone, leave it in longer.

Once your chicken is completely cooked, you will see several cups of drippings remaining in your slow cooker.  Don't dump!  Look below for a recipe to turn these drippings into a delicious broth.

This chicken serves up nicely with rice and steamed vegetables. 

My bird fit snugly in the pot.  If you wish to do a larger chicken, you will need to use a larger slow cooker.


This is what it looks like after 7 hours on low.  I put it in at 11am and we ate around  6pm.  My chicken was partly frozen when I put it in.  If you want the meat to fall off the bone, cook it longer.  My family prefers it like this.

I didn't make it this time, but when you remove the chicken you will notice a good amount of liquid remaining.  It's not all fat, don't worry!  It's the juice from the meat.  If you want to make a broth from this liquid and leftover chicken, it's very easy.  Here's the recipe!

Easy Slow Cooker Broth

Ingredients:

remaining liquid from slow-cooked chicken
bones and any meat stuck to bones from chicken
1 onion, quartered
celery, chopped
carrots, chopped

Put leftover chicken bones and pieces into slow cooker.  Add chopped onion, celery and carrots.  Fill remaining space with water.  Turn slow cooker to low and leave on until you wake up in the morning.  In morning, turn off slow cooker and let stand for a short time until you can easily handle the bones.  Strain broth into containers, cool and freeze.

There you have it, a simple and easy way to make your own healthy chicken broth with none of the fuss.  Plus, it will be rich in calcium after you've left those bones in it all night!

If you want to make it even easier you can skip adding the veggies, but they add so much flavor it's hardly worth skipping.  You decide!

Enjoy!

Update:  I just made this broth the other day and made sure to add an onion and a some carrots (we were out of celery) and it gave the broth such a full flavor.  If you have them on hand, it really is worth adding the veggies.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Jack-O-Lantern Candle Jars

From Alexas_Fotos
Can you believe it?  Halloween is here already?  It seems like time just slips through my fingers.  Am I the only one who feels like time goes faster the older I get?

That being said, fall is one of my favorite seasons.  It's a great time to get outside and enjoy the crisp air and just take it all in.  I know winter is just a blink away, and I want to enjoy the outdoor time as much as possible.

In the fall I love to cook, bake and craft.  Here is one of the crafts I've done in the past.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  It's very easy and maybe it will inspire you!

Painted Jack-O-Lantern Jars

This crafts is simply made using old spaghetti sauce jars and acrylic paint.  

You can sketch a design with a permanent marker, but I just freehand-painted right onto the jar and lid. When they were dry I added a tea light candle for a cute effect.  I'm happy with how they turned out.  




These can really be adapted for any season.  They're also great for kids.  Let your imagination guide you!


You might also like:




Thursday, October 29, 2015

Leftover Pumpkins?





It's nearing the end of October and you've been thinking about all the pumpkins you have out in your front yard.  They've been providing great decoration so far, but you wonder what you'll do once Halloween has come and gone.  Don't let all that delicious goodness go to waste.  Like I showed you last week, one thing you can do is toast your seeds.  Today you I will show you how to bake your pumpkin.



Quarter your pumpkin.  I have the best luck using a made-for-kids pumpkin carving knife.  It's not sharp, but it cuts pumpkins and squash better than any utensil I've tried.  Then take a spoon and scoop out the guts.  Be sure to save the seeds for toasted pumpkin seeds!


Lay your pumpkins cut-side down on a large baking sheet then cover loosely with foil.


Bake pumpkins at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours, or until they are golden and are easily pierced with a fork.


You can see the color has changed and the flesh is easily scooped out.


Any pumpkin can be baked, but the best for baking are small pie pumpkins.  The ones shown here are from Breezy Gardens, a local farm.  They are, by far, the best I've tasted in a long time.  The flesh was smooth and creamy and though I made to use in recipes such as Pumpkin Bread, I ate some of it alone as a side dish with butter and salt.  Delicious!


Baked Pumpkin
Great for using in recipes instead of canned, though it may be less dense depending on your pumpkin variety.  

Ingredient:

pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut pumpkin into manageable pieces.  Place cut-side down on a baking sheet.  Cover with foil and bake 1 hour.  Check with fork.  If fork does not go in easily or pumpkin does not seem tender, bake at 10 minute intervals until the right consistency is achieved.


You might also like:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Autumn Blessing



Each fall I think of taking a trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire to look at the foliage.  Then I stop for a moment and realize I have the beauty of the season already surrounding me.




The smell of the leaves, the bright oranges, reds and yellows.  I only need to step outside my door to enjoy what's already here.




Just a few days ago I took this picture of our tree. Today it sits bare.  It's amazing how quickly the changes take place.




Some green still shines through, though after a few frosts, it will be wilted and bare.




What feels like a nuisance when it's time to clean, is our next generation of soil.  




Not to mention, leaves are a whole lot of fun for my kids.  They revel in making giant jumping piles.




There is beauty in the change, the knowledge that in a blink white will blanket the land where now abides a vibrant canvas of color.  This is the blessing of Autumn.




Thursday, October 22, 2015

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds




Pumpkins are good for far more than just decoration.  It's only in modernity that we use things for a single purpose and then toss them.  Make use of this wonderful gift of nature and you'll wonder why you ever threw your pumpkins away.

Today I'll give you recipe on how to toast the seeds.  If you are carving a pumpkin don't let all of those tasty morsels go to waste.  Bake them up for a tasty treat.


Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

Pumpkin seeds
salt or seasoned salt - my favorite seasoning is Goya Adobo

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse your seeds in a strainer being sure to remove any goop that might still be attached to the seeds.  Spread rinsed seeds on a baking sheet and salt.  Put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Check the seeds and continue cooking at 5-10 minute intervals until your seeds are a nice golden brown.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Giant Granny Square Blanket




I love receiving handmade gifts from people who care about me!  Each time I use the gift, I think of the person who gave it to me.  My friend, Annie, gave my husband and I a giant granny square blanket for Christmas a few years back.  It keeps us nice and warm on cool fall nights.






The simple granny square is a classic crochet pattern at which even the novice crocheter can excel.  Yet, for it's ease, it is a beautiful project.  The blanket that I made here is a take on this classic.  It's a version with three double crochet stitches in the spaces, followed by two chains.  Some people make the granny with only one chain between shells, or even none.  It's entirely up to you.  The more chains, the looser and lacier the look of the afghan.


A close up of the single crochet edging.  Row one is in the cafe late followed by one row of green.


Classic Giant Granny Square Afghan

Materials:

3 jumbo-sized skeins of yarn (you will have some extra but not too much)
size I hook
needle to weave ends

Shell -three double crochets together in one space

1.  Begin by chaining four.  Put your hook in the furthest chain from the hook and slip stitch.  Pull to make a circle.

2.  Chain 2.  Double crochet two into the space.  Chain two.  Double crochet 3, chain two.  Repeat this two more times.  Once you have four groups of three double crochet chain two, slip stitch to connect.  Slip stitch to the corner.  

3.  Chain 2.  Double crochet two, chain one, then double crochet three.  Chain two and make two shells in each corner followed by chain two.  Slip stitch to join and slip stitch to corner.

4.  Continue pattern with two shells in each corner separated by chain one, and one shell in each chain two space, separated by chain two.


This is a throw-sized blanket measuring approximately 53" X 53"

Here's a great YouTube tutorial if you would like to see a visual.  Videos like this one are how I taught myself to crochet a few short years ago.  Her pattern is a tiny bit different, but really, you could follow her and end up with a blanket basically the same as mine.



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Changing Seasons




Just outside the laundry room window there is a big maple tree.  It must have been there for a hundred years.  It may be there when I die.  When I gaze upon this beauty of nature, I am reminded how quickly time moves on.  I think of the subtle daily changes leading to the ever larger change of the seasons.  These things happen bit by bit each day until I realize summer is gone and fall has arrived.  This beautiful maple reminds me of the cycle of which we are all part.