Another Pair

Check it out! I've got a bootie thing going on here! (On top of the already enlarged bootie I've got annoyingly attached behind me.)

These are made from wool felt and it was much easier to work with than fleece. I found some basic, pretty colors on a bolt at JoAnn's over in the fleece section.

Because these work up so fast and easy, I've got a whole batch I'm working up today! Now I just need babies to give them to...

(And I can already hear it - those beads look like a choking hazard. Trust me, they're not going anywhere and besides, these booties are so tiny that any baby wearing them won't care about eating beads yet.)

You guys have GOT to try these! (and then send me pictures)


Baby Booties

For those of you who haven't been to one of my MOST favorite websites, you've got to go check it out. Here is the link to "HELLO My Name is Heather". She's got some free patterns, one of which is a pattern for these adorable baby booties in two different sizes.

Once you check out her bootie designs, click on her Flickr group photos and prepare to be amazed. You'll want to make a pair in every way possible after seeing these.

This was an experiment for me to see if I could follow directions and actually make a pair. These booties are a little off, but I used fleece instead of felt and I think felt would have been much easier to work with.

Anyway - now that I know what I'm doing, I can hammer out a few of these!

How tiny! It's pretty amazing how small a newborn's feet can be.

HERE is a great website for beautiful, wool felt in every color you'd love (not like that yucky stuff at Wal-Mart).


Starting a New Strand of Yarn

What happens when you're making a blanket and you run out of yarn?! Well, I'm not an expert but this is how I do it.

Tie a square knot with your old strand and the new strand and keep going.

I'm doing a double-stranded blanket but I'm only out of the one color for now.

Without stitching my knot into my double crochet (dc), I can do one more stitch until the knot is just at the base of my next stitch. Hold it there with your thumb and middle finger.

When the knot is at the base of the stitch, hold it there with your thumb and middle finger and do another dc.

I've done a regular dc over the top of the knot and here are the remaining tails of my strands. I'm just going to hold them down on top of the chain edge of the blanket and I'm going to dc under the chain and over the top of them, blending them in.

After a few stitches, you don't even see where you made the switch!

Chenille-look Crochet Blanket

This is my latest project - a chenille looking baby blanket done with the usual double crochet technique. To get this look, I use two strands of yarn - one is a Bernat Softee Baby (very soft) and the other is Bernat Baby Boucle (soft & fuzzy).

When this blanket is done, it will be VERY soft and VERY warm. During the cold winter nights here in Michigan, I put my little guy's crochet blanket on top of his covers and the crochet blanket insulates and traps his body heat. These things are amazing. Sometimes they can be too warm!

To make this blanket you'll need:

3-4 skeins Bernat Baby Boucle-white
3 skeins Bernat Softee Baby-blue
Hook size "K"

Double Crochet Blanket Instructions
Blanket Border Instructions
Starting a New Strand Instructions


Cooking 101 - Basic Roasted Chicken

Believe it or not, folks, there are those of us out there who FEAR the whole cooking a bird thing. I've been running my own household for almost eleven years now and I'm finally starting to overcome this fear. I'll cook chicken, but a WHOLE bird?! Now that's just silly.

However, friends, I can buy a whole chicken for around $3.50 and roast it myself instead of paying $5.00 for a much smaller, rotisseree chicken at the store - plus I've got MUCH more meat for leftovers. So you're feeding your brood for $3.50 and you'll get two meals out of one chicken! (Now you can justify that $4.25 half-gallon of Haagen Daas.)

This entry is for those of you out there, who, like me, (and you know who you are...) WANT to have the roasted chicken but don't want the hassle. There are much fancier ways of doing this with all of the herb packets, kitchen twine, special pans and basting tools out there - but we're not doing any of that. Just basic stuff here!

We're going to wash the bird, rub him down, pop him in the oven, and wait. Before you know it, dinner's DONE and you hardly did anything.

(also works with whole chicken cut up)
Preheat your oven to 450

1.) Get your chicken, wash him off (don't get too attached, though, you ARE going to cook him.) Pat dry with a paper towel.

2.) Slap him in a 9 x 13" baking pan - breast-side-up

3.) Rub him down with olive oil, basic seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder), and an herb of your choice - I like basil or oregano. Don't complicate the flavor, though - just pick one. Do a little of that on the inside of the bird, too.

4.) Roast him for about 45 minutes, cover with foil, and roast approximately 20-30 minutes longer.

Let the chicken sit & rest after you pull it out of the oven - it will still cook a little bit and if you start cutting it up, you'll loose a lot of the good juices.

The chicken will be cooked through when the juices run clear or it registers 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.

REMEMBER: Every time you poke or pierce your meat, you loose juice and that means DRY CHICKEN. Don't poke or pierce until you absolutely have to check to see if it's done.

What to do with leftover chicken:

Use it for soups (Molly's Green Chili Soup)

Toss some chicken chunks in a garden salad

Whip up some chicken quesadillas with green chilies, cheese, beans & a side of salsa & sour cream

Chunky Chicken Salad:
chicken, sliced grapes, chopped celery, chunky pecans or cashews, Hellman's Light mayonaise (Hellman's is the BEST, by far), dash of salt. Combine - eat on bread, a whole wheat tortilla, or plain.


Cooking 101 - Homemade Granola

I've tried about a million granola recipes and this one is my favorite by far. I was hooked at first bite. Enjoy!


4 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. chopped nuts
1 T. sesame seeds
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. good honey (spray measuring cup with Pam spray first)
8 T. melted butter
sprinkle of salt
1/2 c. raisins (optional)
1/2 c. sweetened, shredded coconut (toast it at 350 degrees before mixing it in if you like it that way)

Heat oven to 300. Line baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. (if you've doubled the recipe, you'll need two lined baking sheets)

In a large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, nuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg and just a teeny, tiny sprinkle of salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine honey & melted butter, pour over the mixture. Stir well; spread on the sheets and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven, let it cool for a bit. Break up the granola, add coconut and raisins. Store in an airtight container. Makes approx. 6 1/2 cups.


SUPER Easy Reversible Farmer's Market Bag

If you can sew a straight line, you can make this ADORABLE bag. Use it for library books, an outing in the park, take it shopping, or whatever! Take it to your local Farmer's Market and fill it up with all kinds of fresh harvested goodies - especially since Fall is coming. This cute bag is fun, easy and versatile.

Make up a bunch at one time and save them for gifts for the upcoming hoildays! (You could stuff it with an EASY cafe apron, some of my good pancake mix, good syrup, something yummy from Bath & Body Works and, of course, CHOCOLATE!)

So let's get started, shall we?! Stop hyperventilating - you'll do FINE! If you can sew a straight line, use scissors without drawing blood, and iron without starting a fire - you can do this!

You'll need:
1 yard exterior fabric - washed, dried & pressed (I recommend a good cotton)
3/4 yard (maybe less, but you could use the scraps) contrasting fabric - washed, dried & pressed
scissors & pinking shears if you have them
Rotary blade, quilting ruler, mat
Marking pencil for fabric
Chocolate & a Diet Coke - for the nerves...very theraputic...revvs the 'ol engine a bit
And...note: Always backstitch to secure your stitches.

First of all, if you've never used a quilting ruler and mat before, it's SO simple - everything lines up. If you look at the picture of the ruler and mat, it's all in square inches so when you line up the ruler with the mat, you're always going to get a clean, straight cut. Just make sure your top and bottom and side lines all line up.

You're going to take your yard of exterior fabric and hold it horizontally- that means the widest part should span your arm length. Fold that in half, then lay it down in front of you with the selvages to your right (if you're right handed), then flip that up and fold it again so you have one long length of fabric and all selvages are facing to your right. You're going to first trim off all selvages - about 1/2" . The selvages are the woven edges to keep the fabric from fraying - might have a JoAnns logo or something printed on it - that needs to be cut off.

Then line up your fabric again with the ruler on your mat and cutting ruler and cut 1 piece to 16" x 14". (Being that your fabric is folded, you decide which cuts you should make - and being that it's folded, the actual size of the piece is 32 x 14)

Then cut two 4 1/2" strips for handles. You can make the handles as long or short as you'd like, (mine are 28") just remember you're going to need an extra inch or inch-and-a-half in length due to sewing.
Now cut yourself a piece of your contrasting fabric - 16 x 14" folded.

Here is my 16" x 14" piece of exterior
fabric - folded. (Total of 32 x 14)

SIMPLE VERSION: NO POCKETS. Move forward, ignoring the pocket instructions.

FOR POCKETS, I cut an extra 2 pieces of 4 1/2" x 14" of my exterior fabric for an inside pocket and 2 magazine-sized pieces for my back exterior pocket.

To make the pockets, place right sides together and sew the long sides together, ignoring the short sides. Press seams open and turn it right-side out. Press flat and you've got your interior pocket.

For the big pocket, stitch all the way around each side, leaving the top open. Press seams open, clip bottom corners (without cutting your stitches). Fold top down 1/4" & press, fold down another 1/2", press & pin in place. Stitch all the way around, starting at one of the side seams. (you've made a little mini-bag)

Unfold your main exterior piece of fabric right side out, center, and pin your pocket. Make sure the pocket is only 2-3 inches from the top of the bag because you're going to steal a couple of inches from the bottom of the bag when we make a flat bottom. (like mine feels from sitting in this chair...hehe)
With this pocket, you'll have two pockets in one - the pocket you made and the natural pocket made when you stitched it onto the bag .

Then unfold your contrasting color - right side out - and pin your smaller pocket anywhere you'd like. If you want it closer to the top of the bag, put it there. My pocket was closer to the bottom - looking at the picture it was about 6-8" from the top of the bag.

Top stitch pockets down on all sides EXCEPT the top - you know - you need that open...to put stuff in!
Because my interior pocket was so wide, I stitched down the middle of it to divide the pocket, then I stitched one more time down the middle to make a place to hold a pen or pencil. Make as many of these as you'd like. GET CREATIVE! Stitch an opening to fit your phone, iPod or that little something you can't live without.

Now you're ready to make up some handles!

Here I have two 4 1/2" x 28" strips. Fold in half and stitch all the way down. Don't worry about the
bottom edges. Clip seam with pinking shears to prevent fraying.

Carefully turn them right-side out like this. Press flat.

Top stitch on both sides. You can't see it very well here, but they're all pressed, stitched, and ready to install.

But first we need to assemble the bag.

Here we go. With your pockets now attatched, you're going to sew up two separate bags and then put them together.

First, take your exterior fabric, put right sides together, pin down. Sew down both sides. Clip your corners without cutting the stitching (see photo). Do the same thing with your interior fabric. Carefully press seams open. Your ironing board can probably accommodate half of the bag - don't worry about the corner tip - you'll get that in a second.

Put your hand inside the bag and poke your fingers into the corner to bring it up to a point. Iron it flat - inwards about 3 inches. (see photo) Do this on both pieces of the bag - your exterior & interior pieces.

Align your triangle with your mat and mark a straight line 2" from the tip. Don't forget to align your ruler, too.
Do this on both pieces of your bag. (4 corners total)

Straight stitch right on the line you drew.

Now you get to be destructive. Clip each corner piece off of both pieces of fabric.

Voila! You just created a flat bottom. Now you'll be able to carry books & things without stressing the bag.

WE'RE ALMOST DONE! Now comes the fun part.

So now we've got 4 pieces. The outside, inside, and 2 straps. Let's put it all together.

Put your inside lining, well, on the inside silly!

Make sure to line up your seams on both sides.

Here is what it should look like.

Turn it inside-out, fold bottom edge 1/4", press, then another 1" down, press & pin together - keeping side seams together.

Should look like this.

Mark your center (I just measured & used a straight pin there at the top and then eyeballed from there.) and place your strap underneath your top seam between the center and the side edge. Do this on both sides.

Should look like this.

Bring the strap up and pin it down. You're going to top stitch all the way around, so the handle construction looks flawless.

Make sure to get the handles STRAIGHT. Don't twist them.

Using your first two handles as guides, pin the last two.
Once everything is all pinned down in place, carefully top stitch all the way around the bottom of your cuff, then all the way around the top edge - beginning and ending on one of the SIDE seams. You don't want to start right in the middle where everyone can see.

And you're done! It wasn't that bad, was it?! Now you can make lots of these babies!

Let's Review:
1.) Cut 2 big pieces: exterior & interior, 2 handles & pockets
2.) Sew pockets together
3.) Sew pockets onto body
4.) Assemble handles
5.) Stitch sides of body
6.) Make flat bottom
7.) Fold, press & pin top of bag down
8.) Add handles
9.) Top stitch all the way around on bottom and top edges.
10.) Enjoy your bag

Downsize them and make small ones for little kids.

Embellish the pockets with iron-on transfers, embroidery, or ribbon & ric rac before you sew them on.

Use contrasting thread (if your lines are straight) or do fun stitch patterns like ziz zag on the pockets or top stitching.

Get creative & crazy with your own designs. You are the artist - let your imagination run! Just remember that I want to see photos!
Now get out there and get going!


Cooking 101 - Italian Lentil Soup

This recipe is another one I've tweaked a little - deriving from my girl, Denise. I've never been one for lentils, I've never known how to cook them...until I got my hands on this recipe. This soup goes with EVERYTHING - especially a good sandwich. For me, it's one of my ultimate fave comfort foods! I usually ALWAYS have a stash of this in the freezer!

This soup is a double threat - for one thing, lentils are WAY good for you, and another, it's also filled with good veggies and this soup is low-cal. So go ahead and make that turkey, bacon, avocado sandwich smothered in mayo. You can take it.

This recipe is doubled so as to accommodate an entire bag of lentils. Feel free to cut it in half if you don't want to use the whole bag, or if you don't need a freezer full of soup.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 c. olive oil
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. dried Italian seasoning (or 1 t. each of thyme, oregano & basil)
1 bag dried, green lentils
16 c. broth (or bullion cubes & water)
2 t. salt (I prefer less)
1/2 t. black pepper
Cooked pasta or 1/2 c. uncooked brown rice
Grated Romano cheese for sprinkling on top
Half and half (optional)

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil and saute the carrot, celery, and onion. Cook 3-5 minutes until soft. Add garlic, seasoning, and lentils. Stir;
cook 30 seconds. Add broth, salt & pepper. If using brown rice, add it now. Keep in mind that the rice will absorb liquid. If you like a runnier
soup, cook rice separately or add
more broth.

Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes on low heat until lentils are tender. Add cooked pasta (like macaroni or small shells) separately. If you're planning on freezing some in containers or freezer bags, do not add pasta to the whole soup. Set aside the soup you plan on freezing and then add your pasta.

Top your soup with some fresh grated Romano, Parmesan or Asiago cheese for a kick of flavor. Oh, and to make it even more delish, add a little half and half - about 1/2 c. to the soup and it will make your toes curl! Hey - if it's the worst thing in the soup, then whatt've you got to lose?