Monthly Archives: January 2013

Day 20: A Monster of a Blanket

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I found the Vintage Vertical Stripe blanket pattern at Bella Dia back when I was still a new crocheter, nearly a year ago. I loved it, and I couldn’t wait to start it. I don’t think I had made a single blanket completely at that point, so that is my excuse for starting such an enormous blanket. I had no idea how big 250 stitches done with an I hook would be!

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See how this thing hangs a bit over the back and folds over a bit at the back of the seat? It is folded in half, too! It is giant!

I really don’t know what I will do with this, it is probably going to be too big for my bed. I will have to find someone with a king bed to give it to maybe. Or maybe I will just keep it for snuggling with the kids–they are always yanking the blankets off of me if we try to share on the couch.

At any rate, I really felt that adding 5 rows to this thing was an accomplishment–that is 1,250 stitches, enough to feel productive, even if they do go fairly quickly. I love the colors, and it is a great way to use up some of my stash, something I definitely need to do more.

Anyone else making a VVS?

Day 5: Comforting a Friend

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My friend Natalie lost her mother-in-law recently. All jokes about in-laws aside, she was very close to her mother-in-law, and I knew she was very sad.

The day before this happened, I had been chatting with Natalie online, and she was looking over some of my projects here. She told me that she liked the spiral scarves, and she loved bright colors, especially pink. Right away I knew I would make her one in Watermelon Caron Simply Soft, because it just seemed like the perfect color for Natalie. I didn’t know when I would get around to it, though, with all the projects I already had going.

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When I heard about her loss the very next day, I dropped everything and started this scarf. I felt so bad for her, and there was not much else I could do–Natalie lives in California, and I am in Missouri, so I couldn’t stop by with a hug or a home-cooked meal. This scarf is my way of sending a hug when I cannot be there.

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Natalie tells me that I did a good job picking the colors, it is just the kind of thing she likes, which makes me happy.

This is one of my favorite part of making things–that I can give a little of myself to a friend in need. Or not in need, too, but especially when I think they need a little extra support.

Day 19: Getting Started in Collage

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When I was deciding to do a year long project focusing on making something every day, I came across Making Made. This project really spoke to me, because Jeanne didn’t decide on a unifying theme for her project (like an owl a day, or a robot a day, for instance), she just decided to make something every day. I didn’t feel that there was a specific theme I wanted to commit to doing daily, but I could get behind the idea of making sure creation is a daily occurrence in my life. I have been wanting to make more things for a long time, but daily life gets in the way so often, and I wanted a spur to daily action. Plus, I want to branch out, try more techniques, and make more of what I use in a global sense.

So, the whole blog was inspiring to me, but her Deer Chicago collage really stood out. Go look at it, it is awesome. I have been interested in collage anyway, but after seeing this, I realized how much opportunity there is to create something uniquely meaningful through collage. The deer in this picture is from a photograph Jeanne took on a hike, and the Chicago skyline is a vintage photo. I love the way the personal photo is juxtaposed with the vintage photo and the text making up the street.

I don’t actually have a collage (although I guess my Christmas art could be considered collage), but I did paint a background on a canvas this weekend that will be the basis for a mixed-media project.

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Obviously, there will be actual collaging on top, but I am very pleased with this background. It is an abstract idea of grass and sky, and I love the color changes. Now, I just need to figure out how I want to do the rest, and get a block of time to work on it. I did some experimenting this weekend with attaching yarn to another canvas, because yarn will be involved here., but I am still thinking through the overall approach.

Do you make collages? What kind of materials and adhesives do you use?

Menu, Week of 1/20

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I really do love menu planning. I didn’t follow my plan exactly last week, but it still made things go so much more smoothly, and I was able to cook at home even on the night I had to drive way out in the county to get the boy a scouting thing for his pack meeting Wednesday night. I got back at about 6:15, and the meeting was at 7:00, but we still had a healthy home-cooked meal. Go me!

Sunday: Salmon salad (bibb lettuce blend, mushrooms, avocado, slice almonds, dried cranberries, salmon burger chopped on top, homemade balsamic vinaigrette)

Monday: Red beans and rice, steamed veggies

Tuesday: Curried chicken and veggies, rice, pineapple

Wednesday: Salmon noodle casserole, steamed veggies

Thursday: Lentils and rice with caramelized onion tahini sauce, Italian sausages, steamed veggies

Friday: Sloppy joe pizza

Saturday: leftovers

As always, this post will be linked to Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com–lots more ideas over there!

Days 15 and 17: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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In the interest of being slightly less boring, I am summing up on projects and posting when they are totally done, even though they may span several days. So, finishing a panel on an afghan that has multiple panels may be a project for one day, but I am not necessarily posting those here each time, because it can be too repetitive. Instead, I’ll keep track of the days I work on it and post a big one when I am done. Or, I’ll post some of them when it is new, then wait until I am done to post the other days. Whatever I feel like on any given day, basically.

I came home from work last Tuesday determined to work on the blanket I am making for the high school Parents’ Club auction, but I got sidetracked. You see, it is really cold here. Really, really cold. And I can’t find the hat I crocheted for myself last year.

I liked to make something to solve this sort of problem before I started this Making Things project, and that has only gotten more true this month. So, I put aside the blanket and started my scoodie, based on this pattern:

 

I wanted something a little brighter, though, and I found a nice pretty blue in my stash:

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The yarn is Red Heart With Love in Ocean Blue, which is listed as a worsted weight, medium, 4, but it seems a bit bulkier. I am surprised at how much variation there is with a weight classification for yarns, but it nice to have some variety for various purposes.

This is  a fairly warm scoodie with the half double crochet stitches giving it some thickness, but if it is a very windy day, a hood on top of it would be helpful. I used a K hook, so the stitches are kind of loose and the wind gets in there. I may eventually make another one of these with a smaller hook and more rows. Overall, though, I am very happy with this one! I’ve been told it makes my eyes look bright blue, which is nice, too.

My favorite part of this, though, is how I had a need and I made something myself to fill that need. There are many things I love about crocheting, but making useful things is definitely high on the list. I feel so much less a consumer and more a producer. I am starting to understand how people start out just making a nice baby blanket and end up raising sheep to shear and make their own yarn–not that I think I will get that far, but I can definitely see the appeal of making more and more of your own materials.

This is also why I like having a stash of yarn available–I frequently go into my stash to make things. I like being able to make something to fill a need I have without having to wait until I can get to a store. I prefer to be inspired by what I have on hand as much as possible–not that I never go to the store with a project in mind to buy supplies for, but that I like to have the option of being more spontaneous.

For that matter, this applies to any art or craft supplies. I like to go buy things that appeal to me, then figure out how to put them together later. I think that working within limits inspires the greatest creativity in me. If I have too many choices, I get very overwhelmed. Working with what I have on hand forces me to view everything a little differently, making things work that I might not have considered.

Do you buy art supplies and yarn with a specific project in mind? Or do you like to have a wide variety on hand for whenever the mood strikes?

Day 14: Persian Chicken and Rice/Quinoa

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I never seem to take pictures of the food I make any more. I used to do it all the time, the kids got used to waiting for the picture before digging in. Then our routines got disrupted and I got out of the habit. Heck, we just started eating dinner at the table regularly this week–something we used to do all the time! I have missed it. Sitting in front of the TV in the family room may be eating together, but it is nowhere near the same thing. The children’s table manners suffered, I tell you–we are not doing this a minute too soon.

To celebrate getting back to eating in the dining room, at the table, like civilized people, I wanted to find a new way to make chicken, one that we would all enjoy. In the interest of decluttering my house, I am trying to go through the cookbooks I haven’t used in a while to see if they are worth keeping, and I found the inspiration for this dish in an old Mr. Food series cookbook, Old World Cooking Made Easy. I like to add some quinoa to my rice dishes for extra protein, nutrition and interest, and I find that a  lot of recipes don’t have enough spice or veggies, although in this case it was extra fruit that I added to the dish.

This was definitely a hit–I had to tell the kids they couldn’t eat it all, I needed some for lunch the next day. We had steamed veggies on the side. It was also a nice easy dish, with some downtime to clear off the table, look through the mail and generally get a few things done while dinner was cooking. We will definitely be having this again!

Persian Chicken and Rice/Quinoa

1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into small pieces (use kitchen shears to make this go quickly)
1/3 cup raisins
~1.5 pounds chicken–we used boneless skinless thighs
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
several twists of freshly ground pepper
1 cup brown rice
1 cup quinoa
1 32 ounce container chicken broth

Sautee the onions in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until they start to soften. Add the apricots, raisins, cinnamon and pepper. Stir and sautee for 3-4 minutes longer, then add chicken. Brown the chicken on all side, then add the broth and stir well. Bring to a boil, then stir in the rice and quinoa; turn the heat down to a simmer and cook with a lid on the pot for 30 minutes, or until the broth is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

Menu, Week of 1/13

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I know it isn’t Monday, I am a bit behind this week. I want to keep posting these menus anyway, for reference and to force myself to plan the rest of the week!

Sunday: Spaghetti with meatballs and Italian sausage in tomato sauce, steamed broccoli

Monday: Persian chicken and rice/quinoa, steamed veggies

Tuesday: Shrimp and pea risotto

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Potato/kielbasa hash, steamed broccoli, pineapple chunks

Friday: salmon burger, leftovers

Saturday: out with friends

As always, this post will be linked to Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com–lots more ideas over there!