I was making a what now?

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m usually pretty good at learning from past mistakes. One of the few that I just seem doomed to repeat is putting a project aside “just for a bit — certainly not long enough to forget where I am” and picking it up 3 months years later only to discover that I have no freaking clue what is going on with the pattern. If I even still have the pattern. If you’re like me (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this), you might find these nifty tips I wrote about for the Lion Brand Notebook helpful.

Found It on the Internet Friday #8

September 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve had this done since Tuesday and almost forgot to post it! How cute is this adorable crocheted ring? This was my very first one, and it only took me about 30 minutes. I used your basic DMC embroidery floss and a size 3 steel hook, which seemed to be about right.

I need one to go with every outfit!

The instructions for this ring and two others are available on AllFreeCrochet.com — these are so pretty and easy I can definitely see myself making more! This is ring #1 in the instructions, BTW. The only “issue” is that you haev to remember to take them off when you wash your hands or they get all damp and squishy and feel yucky (once they dry they’re right as rain, so not a big deal if you forget!).

A note on choosing hook size…my very scientific method for this if I don’t have any idea what I’m going for is to — careful, technical term coming up here — guess. You can usually tell as soon as you start chaining if you need to go smaller or larger. Don’t be afraid to play around and switch it up until you find a good match for your yarn, especially on a project like this, where gauge is definitely  not of the essence.

Sometimes the Interwebs Just Infuriate Me

September 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

And since I have this lovely blog, I’m going to respond to the thing that most recently infuriated me. (At the end, you will be rewarded with a small Crafty Thing — feel free to skip my rant and scroll down.) Yesterday I came across this post. At first glance, it makes some really interesting points about allowing your kid to be herself, but I think it also encourages parents to make some pretty questionable choices. So here are my responses:

I force my child to say thank you or sorry [or please or you’re welcome] when appropriate, because he is three years old and often doesn’t know that he should. Part of my job as a parent is to teach him about common courtesy and interacting with his peers, elders, authority figures, and so on. He is always afforded the opportunity to do the courteous thing before I prompt him, and if I have to prompt him, we often discuss why the courtesy is necessary. In the case of “please” and “thank you”, it’s just a nicety. But it’s a nicety we practice in our home and expect our children to practice in the outside world. Such niceties let the people they’re interacting with know that they are not complete dillweeds. In the case of “I’m sorry” sometimes it’s a little different…children don’t intuitively know that they should be sorry about certain things, like doing something mean, or teasing, or accidentally hurting someone. They also don’t know that an expression of remorse to the injured party is the right thing to do when you’ve done one of the aforementioned things.

While I would never force my child to eat two more bites of dinner, I do encourage her to eat plentifully of the nutritious food she is offered, and let her know that treats of the food variety will not be forthcoming unless she first fills her belly with an adequate amount of the good stuff. If she’s hungry enough for a cookie or a popsicle, she’s hungry enough for two more bites of chicken.

I “force” my children to clean up, because it is their responsibility to clean up the messes they have made. I also shower them with praise if they clean up before I have a chance to ask/tell them to. (Incidentally, we start with asking and then move to telling, which I guess is “forcing”, if necessary. It’s usually not.) See above re: my job as a parent. Kids aren’t born knowing these things, and it’s really easy to say, “oh, well you show them” but for the first couple of years of their lives what you show them is you cleaning up after them, because they can’t clean up after themselves.

I force my children to dress appropriately for the weather (to wear a jacket), because they are not born knowing what is appropriate for an 80-degree day v. a 30-degree day. Now, there are some caveats here: I’m talking about things that would be potentially dangerous, and/or cost me valuable time in the morning while we’re all trying to get out the door. So no, my daughter may not go to school clad only in a thin dress and a light sweatshirt when it’s 25 degrees outside, because she will step outside and immediately want to change her clothes and we have to get to work/school. She’s not a dummy, she just doesn’t know yet. Nor may she wear sandals when there is ice on the ground, because that’s dangerous. However, she is welcome to present me with arguments for either of those things or, (more reasonably and something that has actually happened) ask if, say, she can wear a t-shirt under her sweatshirt when it’s cold out instead of a long-sleeved shirt, because it gets warm in her classroom. Not only am I teaching her what is weather-appropriate, I am also teaching her that a well-reasoned argument should be presented if she has an alternate to whatever I am proposing she do.

I “force”  (ask, actually) my children to stop crying once they have expressed their fear/sorrow/dreams/anger and we have dealt with the issue, or if they start crying before anything has even happened, usually when they think we’re going to say no to something. We don’t listen to the request until they can stop crying to ask, and then of course if we say no and they are upset, they are allowed to cry about that a little bit (though will be asked to move to another room if they drag it out. Cry as long as you want, but this is silly, I’m not changing my mind, and you’re not looking for comfort, just trying to bully me into saying yes). Being comfortable with expressing your emotions is important, but so is learning when it’s appropriate, what you’re actually expressing, why you’re expressing it, and so on. It’s hard to stop crying once you get started, even if you no longer have a reason to be crying. Learning to control yourself and your reactions is an important part of learning to interact with the world.

The last one I actually agree with, as written: “If a child is told she is not good enough, then she is robbed of a chance to be happy with herself the way she is.” However, I think it’s important that we do tell our children when their efforts aren’t good enough, and why. Example: I have told my son to pick up his books, which are strewn about the room. He tells me he has done so, and I go to his room to check, but see that there are still a few books on the floor. The answer is not, “Oh, you did a good job!” …the answer is, “You made a great start, but need to finish up.” And if his response is to whine about it, I have no qualms about saying that what he did wasn’t good enough. It was a good start but he needs to finish it up for it to be good enough. The lesson here is that they need to put their best effort into everything, not half-ass their way through life.

Okay, done ranting now, and yes, I feel better. Here’s your crafty treat:

Pill Bottle Flower

The other day, my friend at work Pamela brought me an adorable crocheted flower that she’d whipped up for me. It sat on my desk for a couple of days and I had planned to make a pin out of it, but then I needed to call in a refill on one of my prescriptions. I didn’t get around to putting the empty bottle back in my purse and had a Eureka! moment when I saw them next to each other: the flower was the perfect size to sit on top of the bottle!

Wrapped! Super easy -- just trap the beginning end under the wraps, then when you're done, cut so you have about a 3" tail and use a crochet hook to pull it down under the wraps. Trim the end and you're done!

I grabbed some green yarn and wrapped the base up to the threads and cap of the bottle (note: I have not had a chance to glue the yarn on the cap — if you want to use it as a container, you will need to do that).

Mostly, you just want this to be secure enough so the flower doesn't pop off or wiggle around a lot.

I secured the flower to the cap by poking a hole with scissors and pulling the ends through, then tying them off with some scrap yarn. Cute right? It makes me smile every time I look at it.

I am completely incapable of taking an in-focus pic of this thing. This is as good as it got. Trust me, it's adorable.

The Yarn used to wrap is Wool Ease Thick & Quick in Grass and the yarn used for the flower is the new Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool in Cherry Blossom. I think she improvised the pattern, but there are TONS of free knit and crochet flowers on Ravelry. Make one that makes you happy!

Sometimes I Even Amaze Myself

September 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

The other day I bought a bag of these:

My absolute, hands down favorite candy bars EVAH.

so that I could make these delicious sounding cupcakes. But then I haven’t been in the mood to make cupcakes lately, and I had a cookie-baking mood come over me, so I decided to chop up the bars and use them in cookies instead! Absolutely brilliant, though I had to tweak the dough recipe a skosh to allow for the extra caramel.

C is for cookie!

You definitely want to bake these on parchment paper — even in the spots where the caramel bubbles out the sides it won’t stick as long as you give it a few minutes to cool. Have I told you about how parchment paper is my new favorite thing? About 6 months ago I was baking a batch of cookies and for some reason they were sticking really badly to the sheet. I keep meaning to get a silpat but then forgetting, so I figured I would just have cookie pieces instead of cookies out of that batch. Then I figured I’d give parchment paper a try (only because I happened to have some on hand) and OMG it’s like magic! They just slip right off the paper! I might still get a couple of silpats, just because I like the idea of being able to prep several sheets at once, but seriously, people — parchment paper. Don’t bake without it.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 oz. Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
  • 1 bag Fun Size 100 Grand bars (about 20 bars, I think, so you could also get 10 regular size candy bars)

Preheat oven to 375°. Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla, blending thoroughly. Add 1 c. of the flour, the baking soda, and the salt. When thoroughly mixed, add remaining flour. Beat on medium high speed for about a minute. Chop 100 Grand bars (Note: This is much, much easier to do if you cut them lengthwise first and then slice across the width to make approximately chip-sized bits). Add 100 Grand bar bits and chocolate chips to dough, mixing thoroughly. Drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 375º for 8-9 minutes, until edges are just brown. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet 5-10 minutes, until any leaky caramel is solid. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Found It on the Internet Friday #7

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been meaning to make some of these for awhile now, and the ginormous tshirt I received at the annual company picnic was perfect:

Big bag o'stuff!

This is a super easy no-sew project — you can find the tutorial I used here. My shirt was so big that I ended up doing four loops on the bottom, and I chose to leave my bows hanging out:

Bag bottom

 

So much stuff fits in it, and it is much, much sturdier than I expected it to be. I see a lot more of these in my future!

I’m Not Anti-Frog, I’m Pro-Toad

September 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

(This post actually has nothing to do with toads. Sorry if I got you all excited there.) You know how sometimes you’re just cruising along with your knitting and then all of a sudden fifteen rows later you realize there’s a purl where there should be a knit and it’s really obvious and so you sit and cry a little because you’ve just wasted fifteen rows worth of knitting and have to rip it all out? Well, dry those tears, Sunshine, and head on over to the Lion Brand blog, where this week I tell you how to fix that sort of thing without the trauma of frogging.

Found It on the Internet Friday #6

September 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yikes! Missed a couple weeks, didn’t I? I’ve been crazy busy — tell you all about it later. But for now, meet this week’s FIotI:

Artist credit goes to Becky and Zack

I don’t actually have a link to a particular project on the internet that inspired me for this one, but I’ve been seeing custom-made chalkboard surfaces of all varieties all over Etsy and assorted wedding blogs* and of course Martha Stewart (who has this nifty recipe for making your own color — how cool is that?).

So. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill little chalkboard. No, this is a door, painted with chalkboard paint. I thought about doing the aforementioned MS color-mixing thing, but I didn’t have a particular color in mind and for the amount of paint I needed, it was cheaper to just buy the quart of black (incidentally, they do now have a tint-able one available, but the color choices are limited).

Why a door, you ask? Well, I was using two of them for desk surface in my studio, and when I rearranged a few weeks ago I decided one was enough and I could use the other wall space more efficiently. So I had an extra one hanging around. They’re super-cheap, though — these are the interior hollow-core doors and run $20-30 depending on the width you get.

Those are Zack's legs, just to give you a sense of scale.

The painting itself was really easy — I “primed” with some extra trim paint I had laying around and then threw on two coats of the chalkboard paint. I went over it with the white chalk as instructed on the packaging to give it a “dust base” and then turned the kids loose on it with the multi-color chalk. Right now I’ve just got it on the floor leaning against the wall, but as they grow I’ll probably hang it for them. And I have a bunch of the paint left over, so expect to see more chalkboard-y stuff here in the future.

Gratuitous shot of adorable artists.

* No, I’m not planning a wedding. DIY wedding blogs have some of the coolest crafts going, I swear. Don’t give them a miss just because you’re not planning on tying the knot.

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