FO Friday – Baby Blankets, a Wrap, and a Basket.

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I guess it’s been a bit since my last FO Friday. I have finished a few things. One of them a months old testing project.

This is my Seahawks inspired Picture Perfect Baby Afghan. I made it for a friend of my daughter who is having a little boy. I originally tested this pattern for Darleen Hopkins and made an off-white blanket with pink and teal stripes. Just have a few ends to weave in and it’ll be done. The yarn I used was Caron Simply Soft and it didn’t really take that much time. I will caution you that it is very repetitive, but perfect for chilling and watching a movie. I don’t know about you, but I always have to have my fingers occupied while watching TV.

I love this pattern! I see so many different possibilities with it. I wanted to make a larger Seahawks inspired afghan for my daughter but when she asked if I could make a baby blanket in a week and a half and this one was already started I thought it was perfect. She still wants me to make one for her. I did increase the main color rows between the stripes from 6 to 10. I think the larger the blanket you make the greater space you need between the stripes. Next up is a Gryffindor inspired baby blanket!

seahawks inspired picture perfect baby blanket2

This shawl/wrap was done quite a while ago but I never did get around to posting it. It was a design called the Aasaan Wrap by Shyama Nivas that I tested. It ended up being a nice big wrap. The yarn was Serenity Garden.

aasaan wrap2

 

This is my months old test that I finally finished up. The only thing I needed to do was sew on the flowers, but I was having a hard time finding just the right buttons to use. I’m not happy with the placement but it’ll do. It is only my second felting project. I have to admit  that I don’t mind felting, it’s not nearly as difficult as I thought. The flowers are a bit imperfect, I didn’t get them neatened up enough between soaks. It’s perfect for small items. I was going to throw some of my toy food in there, but I gave it all away and haven’t made any more yet. Wouldn’t it be a cute shopping basket for a little girl? Thus all the little stuffies and crayons. This is another Anastacia Zittel pattern simply called Flower Basket.

flower_basket_1_medium2I also finished up testing a cute filet crochet scarf but haven’t had decent enough weather to get a nice picture. Guess it’ll have to wait for next week.

 

My Empty Nest – a New Chapter Begins

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I am officially an empty-nester. My son moved out last week and I have the house all to myself for the first time in many, many years. Please don’t think bad of me, I love my children and they know the door is always open and they can back at any time. But for a while at least I will be able to do whatever I want without having to think about any one else first.

ryan 21st birthday

I can watch whatever I want, no more Top Gear or Riddiculousness. I’m amused by them, sure, but not hours on end.

I can listen to whatever music I want without comments from the peanut gallery, and I can dance around the house flailing my arms like an idiot without someone going “please mom, stop!”

I can eat whenever and whatever I want….maybe that means I’ll finally lose this weight I’ve been wanting off forever.

My house will never be immaculate because I just don’t place that much importance on housekeeping. As long as the basics are done and the trash is taken out and dishes done I’m happy. But at least now I won’t have stray socks lying all over the living room. Afghans and pillows will stay on the sofa and not on the floor.

For now at least I am a happy camper. Talk to me in a couple of weeks when the novelty wears off.

WIP Wednesday – can you say “ripp-it”?

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You know how you have a vision of a project in your head but the actual thing doesn’t quite measure up?

Well, that seems to be my issue with this September Morning afghan. The problem lies with the color scheme I chose. This was a mystery CAL so you just had to pick the colors and hope for the best. I still like my colors, but unfortunately the sunburst or flower motif isn’t being done justice in my particular color scheme. It just doesn’t look right. Truth is the more I look at it the more I think it just doesn’t fit in with the other squares. I love the designer, don’t get me wrong, and this is a very creative and lovely square. It just doesn’t seem to mesh well with the other two which are more geometrical.

september morning afghan wip

The design only calls for six squares but I like a nice big afghan to cuddle up in so decided to double the number of squares.

I also have an issue with one of the colors I chose, the light brown is really ugly when used as the major color in a square. It just throws off the whole balance of the rest of the afghan. It’s not a bad color, it just shouldn’t be used for the huge areas. As an accent color it’s perfect.

No matter how hard I’ve tried I really don’t like the look of this afghan as it is right now and probably would never use it. It doesn’t make sense to continue on with it so I decided to re-evaluate the whole project and see what I can do so I will be happy with the outcome. So that’s where the “ripp-it” it comes in. Let the frogging commence.

The first thing I decided was the sunflower/starburst motif had to go. So now I’m only going to use the two motifs, the bobble circles and the squares.

I’m also ripping out any of the squares where light brown is very prominent. It took me a couple of hours to rip apart those squares. I knew there was a big reason why I don’t weave in ends as I go! I always complain about those ends when I’m finishing a project, but this is a great example why I leave them. It’s so much easier to rip something apart if there aren’t ends weaving in and out.

Here are the little yarn balls after all that frogging.

yarn balls

I’m hoping I will be happier working on this afghan now and maybe I’ll even get it done. There’s nothing worse than disliking a project so much that it sits for years and you dread working on it. Better to just frog the whole thing and start over with something that you love and will enjoy working on.

This is what I was left with. I think it’s looking better this way, don’t you? But I’m still not 100% sure about a couple of the squares. I will have to wait and see after I finish up the rest and see how it all works together. So no weaving in of ends yet!

squares and circles

Yeah, it’s a pain and I don’t even want to think of the hours I wasted making those squares just to rip them out. But in the long run, it’s really worth taking the time to make your project something you can be proud of.

Pulled from Pinterest – Italian Beef Sandwiches

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I thought it was about time I pulled another one of the multitude of recipes I have pinned and give it a whirl.  This time I chose Italian Beef Roast Sandwiches. I have to admit that I’ve seen this recipe or those similar to this for years and have always meant to give it a try. I think it was the picture on Pinterest that finally made me break down, I mean seriously, the sandwich is mouth wateringly delicious looking.

What’s not to like about this? It’s beef with melted cheese oozing down the sides. Actually it could probably use a little bit more cheese, my son thought so too.

italian beef sandwichesThere really isn’t anything Italian about these sandwiches. I think the name comes from the Italian dressing seasoning packet you use during cooking of the beef and the pepperoncini peppers. You can’t really see the peppers in the sandwich because I sliced them down to thin strips. If you’d like a bigger bite of pepper with your beef then by all means keep the pieces larger.

The sandwiches can be served with au jus to the side for dipping. We didn’t dip our sandwiches but I am going to try that next time. Just strain out the juice from the beef and place in small serving bowls.

Italian Beef Sandwiches

adapted from Family Favorite Recipes

1 beef roast (3 to 4 pounds)
2 cups beef stock (use 3 cups if omitting the cola)
1 can cola (optional, I think it helps tenderize the meat a bit more)
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 – 3/4 jar (16 oz) sliced pepperoncini peppers, with juice
5 cloves minced garlic
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
Kosher salt, to taste
1 package french rolls
8 oz sliced pepper jack cheese

Cover roast with salt and the dressing mix. Pour the cola and beef stock in a large crock pot and then put in the beef roast. Dump the garlic, onions and pepperoncini peppers over the roast.

Cook in crockpot at low heat for 8-10 hours, or cook on high heat for 5-6 hours.

Pull out the beef and shred with two forks. Place back in the au jus with the onions and peppers and keep warm.

Split hoagie rolls and slather both halves with butter. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and then place under broiler for 2 minutes or so, or just until edges start to crisp up. Careful you don’t burn the edges.

Drain beef in strainer over a large bowl and reserve the au jus for dipping later if you want.

Place a good amount of beef over the bottom half of the hoagie roll and cover with cheese. Place two cheese slices on the top half of the roll. Place under broiler just until the cheese starts melting and gets bubbly.

Pour the reserved au jus in a small bowl and dip your sandwich and enjoy!

 

Marble Brownies with Mint Chocolate Chips and Baileys

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marble brownies with mint choc chipsThese are seriously decadent! The few weeks before St. Patrick’s Day our local grocery store started carrying Hershey’s Mint Chocolate Chips. I don’t know if it’s the same elsewhere around the country but it’s about the only time you can find them around here. So I picked up a couple of packages and a box of brownie mix, yes box brownies, I still haven’t found the right recipe for brownies.

Anyway, I made the brownies and threw in a cup of mint chocolate chips and my son just loved them. He told me I needed to go buy the store out of all of the mint chocolate chips and freeze them so we’d have them throughout the year.

Then I started thinking about making something for St. Patrick’s Day using the mint chips and I thought of my cream cheese marbled brownies. What if I added some Bailey’s Irish Creme to the brownies and then use the mint chocolate chips instead of regular semi-sweet. I even thought that I would color the cream cheese mixture green for the holiday. Well I never did get it done for St. Patrick’s Day but the idea still intrigued me.

The brownies were made following the package instructions and I added the Bailey’s to the cream cheese mixture instead of vanilla, and then sprinkled mint chocolate chips over the top. I only added 3 teaspoons of Bailey’s and it gave the cream cheese mixture a slight Bailey’s flavor, you can add as much or as little as you’d like. The mint chocolate chips tended to overwhelm the Bailey’s a little bit after being stored overnight.

They smelled so good baking and tasted even better, even still warm from the oven. My son couldn’t wait for me to cut into them so he could sample a piece. Well it definitely won him over and it’ll be a nice special treat now and again. They are definitely too rich to eat too big of a piece or too often, but it’s something you can pull out to impress special guests.

 

marble brownies with mint choc chips 2

Philly Marble Brownies

1 package fudge brownie mix (family size)
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese,  softened
1/3 cup sugar
3-4 tsp Bailey’s Irish Creme
1 egg
1 cup mint chocolate chips

Prepare brownie mix as directed on package; spray bottom of 13 x 9 inch baking pan with non-stick spray and spread brownie mix in pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and Bailey’s with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Blend in egg. Pour over brownie mixture; cut through batter with knife for marble effect. Sprinkle with chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is lightly browned. Cool. Cut into squares.

WIP Wednesday – A Wrap and a Baby Afghan Test

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Seeing how I got burned out crocheting all that play food I’ve set it aside for a bit and started working on a couple more pattern tests.

This week I’m testing a wrap for Shyama Nivas called the Aasaan Wrap. I’m using Premier Serenity Garden yarn in Crocus. I actually love the purples but they don’t photograph so well, especially when it’s dreary outside. I’m just not sure that I like this yarn with this particular pattern. The striping is vertical but luckily it’s fairly even.

It’s a great pattern so far. It’s mainly sc and trc, with some hdc and dc in the border. The border is worked as you go which is always a nice thing. I need to get it done by the weekend and I’m a little over half way done at this point.

aasaan wrap crochet

aasan wrap border crochetThe second test I’m working is a baby afghan called Picture Perfect Baby Blanket by Darleen Hopkins. I love crocheting afghans and was very happy to see this one. This is the first test I’ve ever done for her and I’m loving this cute little blanket. I used what yarn I had on hand, some Caron Simply Soft in cream, bright teal and soft pink.

I’m envisioning a cute twin sized afghan made up of bright colors perfect for a tween. Nothing too girly, but nice and bright with neon colors. This is a nice afghan that works up quickly with sc and ch stitches. This is about halfway finished. I’m hoping to have it done this weekend.

picture perfect afghan crochet

FO Friday – Crochet Play Food

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A few weeks ago I posted that I was working on some play food for a friend’s son. I finally finished up several pieces and gave it to him for his birthday.

You know it’s not the crocheting part that takes so long, it’s the weaving in of ends and putting things together to finish them up. I have plans to make at least two more sets of what you see here, in addition to even more.

Hamburger and fries, bread, carton of eggs, ice cream sandwich, ice cream cone, sandwich, pancakes and sausage, toast with butter pats, chocolate chip cookie, sandwich cookies, cinnamon roll, fried eggs and bacon

Hamburger and fries, bread, carton of eggs, ice cream sandwich, ice cream cone, sandwich, pancakes and sausage, toast with butter pats, chocolate chip cookie, sandwich cookies, cinnamon roll, fried eggs and bacon

sandwich sandwich fixins pancakes and sausage eggs egg carton cookies and ice cream burger fixins burger and fries breakfast foods bread and eggs bacon and eggs crochet toy food booklet annie's attic

Jungle Themed Baby Shower Cake

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jungle baby boy shower cake

I worked on this cute little cake this weekend. The cake was a boxed Funfetti cake….by request. Which makes things way easier sometimes, a lot less work baking at least. The frosting was a chocolate buttercream and vanilla buttercream.

I wanted to try a new technique this time for the trees and the letters called pastillage. It’s edible but dries quickly and makes the figures very stiff. It was interesting but I broke one of the letters and didn’t have time to mix up a new batch. So I did a 50/50 of gum paste and fondant. I made sure I rolled the letters and trees out pretty thin so they would dry more quickly. It worked pretty well and wasn’t quite as delicate as the pastillage (I’m not sure that I did it 100% correctly because it was brittle and crumbly when it dried).

Then I had to figure out how to get those palm fronds on the tree, not to mention coconuts and bananas. I didn’t want to mix up a batch of royal icing just for a few small pieces so had to research and find a recipe for an edible glue, something with ingredients that I had on hand, no time to run to the store. I finally found a recipe for 2 tablespoons meringue powder and 2 tablespoons water. It worked great! Nice tip to keep in the back of my head next time I’m trying to glue pieces together. It even seemed to work pretty well for the straight fondant pieces, you just need to use it sparingly because it did start dissolving some of the fondant.

The animals are straight fondant and you know, it’s not as easy as it looks to make flat animals. I think it’s easier to make 3-D figures. Trying to cut the shapes out of soft fondant takes some patience that’s for sure.

It took me longer to make the cake than I had initially anticipated, but I think it’s because I was trying a new technique. I just need to learn how to smooth my buttercream, it was a mess!

 

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