19
Aug
2013

Crocheted Ribbon Flowers

Posted by Nicole

These ribbon flowers are my new favorite thing! Now, I’ve never made a real tutorial, so I’m going to do this how I’d like to read it. Hopefully it’ll help. Beware, there will be lots of pictures!Image

I’ve been trying to find a flower pattern I like for ages, and after trying tons of them and making some really awful flowers, I got fed up. I actually totally made this pattern up as I went and it turned out okay. It’s kind of a compilation of many other patterns I’ve used- too many to go back and find them all. I don’t lay claim and say this is MY pattern, mainly because I feel like it’s dumb to try to claim something that anyone could come up with. Feel free to use this however you want! There is only one condition, if you follow this pattern and start to make millions of dollars from these flowers, I want a cut.

I found some spools of ribbon at Michael’s for 50 cents each. (They go on sale 3/$1 every so often.) I started with pink and purple to test this pattern out, and then I found some red and black I already had at home. There are 10 yards on a spool, and a double-layered flower will use just enough that you can’t really make two flowers from one spool, but at 50 cents, I can’t really argue, especially IF YOU USE A COUPON! Always use a coupon at Michael’s. If they don’t have a good one in a particular week, you can pull up the Hobby Lobby coupon on your phone for 40% off and they will honor it. Also, if you’re a teacher, you get an extra 15% off with an ID, pay stub, or insurance card.

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For this size ribbon, I used an F and a G needle. This pattern will use the following stitches

Sc-single crochet
dc- double crochet
tc- triple crochet
ss-slip stitch
ch- chain

With the F needle, ch 2, and in the first chain, make 6 sc. There should be one extra loop in that circle (it’s the second chain from your first ch 2)- ss into it and ch 1Image

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2 sc in each sc around to make 12 sc. SS into that ch 1 from the previous “row”

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Now for the petals. In the first sc from your hook, you need to dc, tc, tc, dc, then ss in the next stitch. Repeat that pattern all the way around and you should have six petals. Feel free to stop here, or switch colors for a two-tone flower.

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Here’s the tricky part. Instead of slip stitching in the front to tie down the last petal, we’re going to start working in the back of the flower. From where you are, ch 1, then ss into the hole seen in the picture. Basically, you’re going between the holes created by the 2nd row and the stitch that each petal is in.

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Once you’ve made that ss, ch 2 and repeat all the way around. As you complete the 5th petal, ch 1 and ss to your first ch1. (Instead of the ch 2 you did everywhere else, you did one ch at the start of the circle and one at the end.) You’ve just anchored a chain circle around the back of the flower for us to add the second layer to.

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On the back side, you aren’t working into the actual chain stitches. You’ll just be working through the loop they make. Does that make sense? Don’t go through the stitch, go under the chain you’ve made. In each hole, you’re going to do the following- dc, tc, tc, tc, dc, ss. Repeat all the way around. Important note- there are multiple ways to do this. On the pink flower, I just kept working with the F needle. On the purple and red examples, I used a G needle for the back petals to make them just a bit bigger. You decide what you like better. You could even go up another needle size and see what happens.

Ignore all of my example pictures and finish off. I am a slacker when it comes to weaving in ends and I always put it off.

For fun, I found some other ribbon I snagged from a craft box at a garage sale. It came in 10 yard cuts as well and is your typical ribbon size. I followed the same pattern with an I needle and stopped after the first layer. I wouldn’t have enough of the same color to add a second layer, but the flower is big enough as it was. I’d like to note that in the smaller flowers, twisted ribbon didn’t really affect the flower at all. In the bigger flower, the first petal wasn’t twisted, but each petal after got twisted. It made it a bit poofier than the other petals.

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I hope all of this was easy to navigate and understand. If I wasn’t clear or if you have any questions, just let me know and I would be happy to help!

Sophie wasn’t impressed with my flowers. 

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18
Aug
2013

Bacon Pancakes

Posted by Nicole

Alright kiddos, today we're going to learn how to make bacon pancakes. You take some bacon and put it in a pancake. Inspired by Adventure Time, bacon pancakes have been a long running joke between my husband and I. Back in the days of cable, we watched goofy cartoons together, and this show would definitely fit the goofy label. Or stupid, whichever you prefer. 

In one episode, one of the characters can be seen singing a song about a beautiful creation called the bacon pancake. The song is catchy and repetitive and quickly was set as my husband's ringtone. He didn't realize it and was confused when I answered the phone "Hey Bacon Pancakes!" every time he called. 

Saturday morning, I decided to make bacon pancakes for real. There isn't exactly a recipe to follow besides "Take some bacon and put it in a pancake." so that's exactly what I did. 

Step one. Take some bacon. Do you see that bacon? It's from Pig Pig and it is ultra thick and just perfect.

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Step two- put it in a pancake. This part was a little ambiguous, so I just tried to stick with the instructions. I made up a batch of Bisquick because I don't make pancakes from scratch. I set the bacon in the skillet after it was cooked and poured the batter over the top. 

ImageThis was after the first flip. I should take a moment to comment on the fact that I have never in my life been able to make pancakes. Why I thought this would change on that particular morning is beyond me. When I first got married, on our first Saturday in our new home together, I wanted to make a big breakfast for my husband. Of course pancakes should be involved. No. It ended up with me in tears because I couldn't flip a pancake and they were all either burned or undercooked. I've probably gone through 3-4 boxes of pancake mix in my time being married, and not ONCE did I make an acceptable pancake that wasn't all wonky looking. 

Well, these look like they're going to end up slightly charred but possibly salvageable.

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They turned out edible at least. My husband ate more than one and didn't even make a face while he did it. (Maybe he's just learned that's the safest way to keep me from crying about pancakes.) I ate a few and thought they weren't bad. I don't know that the bacon added anything. I'd rather just have my bacon and pancakes separate. Maybe next time I'll shred the pieces up and just mix it in the batter... or I'll just let my husband stick to the pancake flipping.

If you decide to try these yourself, it's required you listen to this song while cooking. Give this one a few seconds, it isn't the same video as above. 

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Well, I'm quickly finding out that my crafting life is going to slow WAY down with school starting. Here's a quick overview of what I've got going on.Recipe- Quick Tomato Snack. Seriously, guys, I'm so bad with names.Find a big 'ol tomato and slice him up fairly thick. Put the slices on a plate, top with a bit of cheese and basil, and pop it in the microwave for 45 seconds or so. It's not beautiful, and it's not a full meal, but it's pretty good and easily customizable. This, along with more zucchini chips are today's lunch. I'm saving room and calories for dinner tonight, but that deserves it's own post. My current most pressing work in progress is another iPad sleeve with the beautiful Black Light yarn I grabbed the other day.The picture does not do it justice. This yarn along with the bright blue is beautiful. Maybe it's because I'm a lover of bright colors, but I am so in love with this yarn combination.My next undertaking is still in the planning phases. My brother, a huge Doctor Who fan, wants a Tardis blanket for Christmas. I've found quite a few patterns online, although many are, well, pretty bad. I did find one that I like a LOT, but before I buy it I really need to think it over. I don't want to get into the largest project I've ever done-  a huge single crochet blanket with multiple color changes- and not be able to hack it out by Christmas, especially since I'm working on so many things for the show. Anyways, the pattern I'm considering is on Ravelry, and costs $5. I'm trying to decide if I want to keep it simple and as-is because my brother won't care, or if I want to substitute the background black for something like Macaw or Shaded Dusk. I think either will give it a nice Timey-Wimey look. And finally, to keep me accountable, I present you with...Things I Want To Do Before School Starts

  • Make a freezer full of precooked/premade meals.
  • Finish up the iPad sleeve, pot holder, scarf, and two rugs I have going
  • Finish the Super Mario paintings I've been working on for months and months.
  • Rewind the yarn I got from Goodwill that had to be washed. Seriously, one of them was a skein the size of a baby elephant which obviously would not dry on it's own, so it had to be unwound. 
12
Aug
2013

Potato Circles and Zucchini Chips

Posted by Nicole

I'm going to tell you a secret. I stinkin' love potatoes. J'adore les pommes de terre. (Sorry about the obscure inside joke from high school) Like, a lot. French fries, potato wedges, mashed potatoes, they're just all so good. I thought I'd let you join me today for a quick, tasty lunch.

Today, I made Potato Circles (I've gotta find a better name for these) and Zucchini Chips. These are the same potato circles I talked about a few posts ago, but now with pictures. Start with one potato and one zucchini. Peel your potato, and then slice both veggies.

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I started by putting the zucchini slices in a mixing bowl with one teaspoon of vegetable oil. I don't normally use this much, but I wanted to get an accurate measurement. I then dumped in a few shakes of Mrs. Dash. I didn't measure, but here's about how much I added.

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Mix them all up with your hand and get the slices coated well with seasoning. I lined them out on a sprayed baking pan. Next, I dumped the potatoes in the same bowl and put in a little bit more oil. Instead of Mrs. Dash, I used seasoning salt and mixed it up the same way.

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Pop the tray in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. At this point, I pulled the tray out and took the zucchini off (although, I should have left them on a few more minutes). I added one ounce of light turkey slices and 1/4 cup of "Italian Style Cheese" from Aldi to the potatoes. Put them back in the oven until the cheese is melted- about two minutes. 

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This makes an awful lot of food, but it's a good filling lunch. You've got tons of veggies and a little protein thrown in for good measure too! You can play around with seasonings and toppings and leave them in the oven a little longer. I get impatient and I don't care for crunchy food (mmm, floppy bacon), so this is just right for me. 

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11
Aug
2013

My Favorite Color is Rainbow

Posted by Nicole

School is starting back up soon, so I've been doing a thorough cleaning of my house. I stripped down the bed and was ready to change the sheets, but when they sit in my closet between uses, they start to smell like closet. I decided I needed to suck it up and buy some of those magic-smell-good-pellets for your wash. Gain Fireworks, I believe they're called. (Or Downy Unstoppables) It's like adding sprinkles to your laundry. Well, while I was at Walmart on a Sunday night of Tax Free Weekend (meaning PACKED), I picked up a few little nothings for myself. Image

This yarn was NOT an impulse buy, although the ice cream was. I found it at Walmart a few weeks ago and nearly got it, but I decided to think it over and decide if I really wanted it or if it was just pretty. After deciding I wanted it, I went back and it was gone. I checked all the WM's in town and they were all out. I finally put in a request for the fabric desk to hold them for me, and today just happened to be the day they got their shipment in. It's hard to tell in the picture, but this yarn is called Black Light. It's all sorts of neon and black. Yeah, yeah, I know it's Red Heart, but to be honest, I really don't care. That yarn is pretty darn good, cheap, and consistent, so after washing it, I don't have much to complain about. Especially since most of the stuff I make isn't to wear, so it doesn't make much of a difference. Sometimes the stiffer the yarn, the better. What am I going to make with this? I don't know. For starters, I'll probably do some more iPad or phone sleeves. Maybe a headband or two. I'm really trying to make more quantitative items because I'll be selling my work at a craft show in November. It makes sense to have more little things and fewer big things to sell. My mom's in charge of the blankets and big items, and I'm cranking out the phone cases, clutches, bags, headbands, baby dresses, etc. Anyways, that's all I have for tonight. If you have an idea for something this yarn would be great for, please comment below!

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11
Aug
2013

Finished! - iPad case

Posted by Nicole

Last night I buckled down and finished up the iPad case. I didn't have too much left and my family was spending the evening watching the Rangers game. That's my ideal crocheting time. I'm with my family, usually covered in dogs, and being left alone to crochet all night. Here's how it turned out and a close up of the Textured Single Crochet stitch I used. I haven't put a button on yet, but you get the idea.Image

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For my next project, I'm planning on ATTEMPTING the chevron design in another iPad case. I'll let you know how that one goes.

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10
Aug
2013

Work in Progress- iPad case

Posted by Nicole

I'd like to show you what I've been working on for a couple of days now. It will eventually fold onto itself and be an iPad case, but for now, I just call it a lot of bad names. I'm using the Textured Single Crochet stitch from newstitchaday.com. You can check it out for yourself, but it basically boils down to doing 2sc in one stitch, skip the next stitch, repeat. It's nice and thick, and if you follow the instructions, you get a nice pattern. I didn't follow instructions and have a weird number in my foundation chain. Luckily for me, it resulted in very tidy vertical rows. Unluckily for me, if you miss one single stitch, it derails everything. Image

If you look carefully, you can see the vertical alignment. It's so nice and even for my picky self. The reason this is still a work in progress is the fact that if you don't pay 100% attention to what you're doing and drop a stitch, it doesn't show up until a row or two later. You get to rip, rip, rip, and try again, and if you don't go back far enough, you just rework the same two messed up rows over and over again. To solve this problem, start with the right number of chains, so that the rows are offset and one stitch won't ruin a project.

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Look at the top two rows. They're not lined up, and while it doesn't look bad on it's own, in a project that looks so good elsewhere, it really bugs me. I managed to fix it this time, but every time I mess up, it's costing me probably 30-45 minutes of reworking it. Urg. I really like this stitch, and it's easy if you're paying attention. I'm going to declare the intent and the ease of stitch as a win, but this particular project will be a temporary fail. Urgh.  

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10
Aug
2013

The Crocheter's Guide to Knitting 101

Posted by Nicole

Today, I happened upon what is apparently called a "Hoarder's Sale." It was a warehouse FULL of just... junk. Junk everywhere. It was exactly like what you would see on the show Hoarders. Boxes full of junk just chucked into this warehouse with paths here and there. My husband scampered off the computer pile to look for mechanical keyboards (he found nine), and I went off in search of yarn and craft supplies as usual. Lucky me, I came across a knitting kit. I was looking for some cheapo knitting needles to practice on, and this box just so happened to come with yarn. I got two of them for $1 each. ImageImage

Sweet. I'm good with needles, so I jumped right in with the instruction book. The first step is learning how to cast on. Image

I don't think I did that right. In case you can't read that tiny font, here's what it says.

1. Begin with your left hand, wrap the yarn over the thumb and index finger. Leave a 20 inch or longer tail depending on the number of stitches being cast on. 2. Hold the needle in your right hand, insert the needle under the yarn between the thumb and index finger. Place your right index finger on the top of the yarn on the needle, 1 to 2 inches back from the tip. Move the needle and the yarn so they are opposite from the left hand thumb and index finger. 3. Insert the tip of the needle under the loop on your thumb. Move your needle toward your index finger. Place your needle over the yarn on your index finger, move the needle down to pick up the yarn. 4. Bring your needle back to your thumb and down through the loop on your thumb. Drop the loop off your thumb. 5. Tighten both strands so stitches are firm, but not tight on the needle. 6. There will be two stitches on your needle; this will only happen on the first time through. From this point on, there will be only one stitch added each time through the movements. 7. Repeat steps 2 through 5 for each stitch that you need to cast on. 8. Do the hokey pokey. Did you actually read all of this? Bless your heart.

Yes. Definitely did not do any of that right, because I have NO idea what that means at all. I popped the instructional DVD in, hoping that seeing it happen would make more sense. I wish I had a clip to show you, because it was awful.

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Fine. I give up. I tried looking at a couple of YouTube videos, and I figured out that you're just supposed to make a slip knot. Well they sure made that a lot harder than it needed to be. Eight steps for a slip knot? Good Lord. Okay, so I got the slip knot on the needle. Now what? I stuck to the YouTube videos from here on out. Check out Good Knit Kisses videos- they're what I used. I watched the cast on video first, because I'm pretty sure that's step one.

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AHA! It worked! At this point, I began to wonder why I should use two needles when I could make it work with just one [crochet] needle.

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I kept chugging on, and eventually had a few rows down. I think my crochet background helped me get going. The complicated part is that the main needle is in your LEFT hand and not your right, and you have to let go of the needle, manually wrap yarn around the other one, and try not to drop both of them while you're tangled up.Image

So, here is the "finished" product. I don't know how well you can see what's been done. The first chunk of rows were all the knit stitch, and the last row on the hook was a purl stitch. A purl stitch is essentially a backwards stitch. If you already knit, you can see I messed something up in that row too, but goodness knows I have no idea what I did. Image

Verdict: I'm gonna keep playing with knitting for now. I may try to make a scarf or something easy, just to see how it goes. It seems awkward and cumbersome for a crocheter to have yarn and needles everywhere in your hands, but I'm sure it'll get easier the longer I work on it. It wasn't too hard to pick up, as long as you find the right teacher. If any of you crochet AND knit regularly, I'd love to hear your perspective on this great debate of the fiber arts. Leave a comment below!

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10
Aug
2013

The Love of My Life

Posted by Nicole

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This is Sophie (the dog, not me). She is my husband's and my only child. It's been a beautiful three years so far full of torn apart stuffed animals and peed-on blankets. When it's 3 a.m. and you hear puking sounds coming from underneath your covers, you start to re-evaluate your decision to purchase a live animal and let it sleep in your bed. But then you see her shivering and obviously upset, shaking because she had a tummy-ache from whatever she ate off the kitchen floor, you can't help but feel sorry for the little rat.

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Sophie sure is something else. She's full of personality and spunk. She has an attitude and a strong will. She's very smart and knows quite a few tricks, although we haven't mastered "Don't attack the mailman at the window." We think she's our world, and she really, truly is. She is our child and is spoiled rotten. At least other people tend to think she's cute too. She was even featured in the Texas Tech newspaper! You'll be hearing and seeing quite a bit of her around here, seeing as she kind of consumes my life. As a matter of fact, she's in my lap right now, waiting on me to go to bed. In a minute, she'll sit up and stare right at me, just a few inches from my face and making a high pitched whine. Mom, it's time to go to bed. So I'll leave you here for the night with this, a short glimpse into our life. 

Sophie & Mom HD from Aaron Baxter on Vimeo.

10
Aug
2013

The Place Where All The Burritos Go

Posted by Nicole

I'm a teacher, so I have the summer "off." That means while I don't go to my classroom every day, I spend some time relaxing, and end up on Pinterest looking for lesson plans. At the beginning of the summer, my family went on a vacation to Florida, and while we were there, I got to experience the Blue Man Group. I say experience because one does not simply watch the Blue Man Group. Anyways, they just made an appearance on the Ellen show today, so I thought I'd share with you my favorite BMG song. This version is considerably shorter than normal, so hopefully that entice you to actually go see them. If not, feel free to look for shady bootleg YouTube video taken from the back row of a show. -This video is called "Shake Your Euphemism." There will be tushy euphemisms. You have been warned.-

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