Friday, April 30, 2010

Mimi's Bed Socks


This pattern for Mimi's Bed Socks is from a 2010 Knitting Calendar... Thanks, Mom! I am making worsted weight socks with... you guessed it... leftover yarn from my Great American Afghan. Socks with this weight yarn are a quick knit! I can tell I am going to love these... I think they will be toasty warm. I don't wear shoes except for outside so these socks are right up my alley! There is a nice cable down the front of the sock. Otherwise, the sock is basically a k2 p2 rib. I am enjoying using my new size 8 dpn's from Knit Picks... I LOVE these slick polished wood Harmony Brand needles!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eyelet Hat #1

I am dreaming up uses for the yarn I have leftover from my Great American Afghan (GAA). The other day, I was poking around on Ravelry... looking at completed projects... and I saw a hat which had the gears turning in my head. You can see the hat on www.ravelry.com. Click here:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pastel-marley

The hat looks as if it has rows of eyelet... similar to the border I put on my GAA and also similar to a baby sweater I made before. Here's a photo of the baby sweater to which I am referring (I really love this little lavender sweater):

Sat down with my yarn and needles this morning, and here's what I came up with.

There are three rows of eyelet on this hat but the it's hard to make out the "eyelet" on the row in the center in dark purple. I learned a lot making this hat. I really like the look of the eyelet on this hat only I think I would like it better if the hat had more rows of eyelet instead of the little rows of "v's" in contrasting color. I have never made anything with two different colored yarns at once so that was a learning experience as well. I like how the decreases look on a stripey hat as you work your way to the top of the crown!



Sorry the photos are not a bit better. It's late here so I had to be my own photographer with the camera at arm's length.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Berry Baby Hat


Took this photo on my dryer... not a great back drop, but it's the place in my house with the only south facing window... I like the natural light there.
I found this cute pattern for a "Berry Baby Hat" on http://www.ravelry.com/. I just recently signed up for Ravelry and I really enjoy looking at everyone's projects on there... the free patterns are great! For this hat, I used left over Cascade 220 yarn from my Great American Afghan. I am enjoying making a few quick knit projects before I dive head first into my Great American ARAN Afghan. More about that tomorrow...

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Great American Afghan is complete!


CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR ENLARGED VIEW

My Great American Afghan is complete! It took six months and I learned so much. I started the border on Thursday and completed it Sunday night. Would you believe it if I told you the border alone has nearly 8,000 stitches!? How crazy is that!!!! Since I finished the afghan at 11:00 pm Sunday night, I took these photos indoors (of course) with just artificial light. I would like to take photos of my afghan in natural light, but I couldn't wait until then to share these images with you! Here are a few good shots...
Anniversary Block
Son's Block

Squiggles Block
Tree of Life Block
Under the Sea Block
Another good shot!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

This dog is awesome!

The other day I caught part of this story on The Today Show on television. I looked on the internet and found the complete story. I have always loved dogs and I especially like German Sheperds! I encourage you to check this story out! Amazingly smart dog! Here is the link to the video clip:
http://www.watchmojo.com/tv/Grab/Splash%20News%20TV/4121141/

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jelly Bean Baby Socks for GAA


Did you say, "Ahhh, how cute!?" These are little socks I made for my son's block on the Great American Afghan. Instead of following the pattern for the miniature socks in the GAA book, I made this pattern from Susan B. Anderson's blog for Spud and Chloe yarn. Everything Susan B. Anderson knits is adorable and the Spud and Chloe yarn looks amazing. Of course I used some more Cascade 220 Superwash for these socks. The pattern is called "Jelly Bean Baby Socks" and here is the link: http://www.spudandchloe.com/blog/2010/02/jelly-bean-baby-socks-free-pattern/


This is a super fun and really quick pattern. The instructions are fantastic. I am actually knitting another pair right now with some yarn left over from my GAA. For the socks I knit above, I did decreases on every toe round. I was running out of yarn and had to dig through my afghan yarn to find scrap lengths of green yarn to piece into these socks just so I could finish them with yarn from the same dye lot... Yep, cutting it close again! This is where the socks will go:
If you've never checked out Susan B. Anderson's blogs, I encourage you to take the time. The links are listed on the right hand side of the screen here on my blog.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

GAA... Sneak Peek!


Okay, here it is... a little peek at what my Great American Afghan looks like all stitched together! It was a ton of work to get it stitched together. I started stitching it together Thursday afternoon (at my Thursday knitting group with the gals at Anne's knit shop) and by Friday night... I had all the squares together. Phew! What's left you ask???? I need to make the booties for my son's block. I need to weave in all the loose ends on the backside of the afghan... bad news, there are even more loose ends to weave in after stitching the blocks together! Argh!!!! I also need to knit the border. For the border, I am using the darkest purple yarn which you see in the very center of the afghan (flanking the Circling Squares block). I am using an eyelet border which I found on http://www.theraineysisters.com/. I found a really cute pattern for the baby booties on http://www.spudandchloe.com/. The pattern is called "Jelly Bean Baby Socks" and it calls for worsted weight yarn so I think it's a perfect match for my square. The "Jelly Bean Baby Socks" are a great, easy, and fun pattern. It will definitely be a pattern I want to make again in the future. In fact... I just learned the other day that a gal at work is expecting... time to knit baby things!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fruity Pebbles headband... yes, this is a knitting blog after all!


I used the remainder of my Cascade 220 Superwash Paint yarn this week. No kidding, I probably had less than one yard of yarn remaining when I bound off this project! Phew, that was cutting it close! I actually was following a pattern for a cable stitch hat but it soon became apparent I would NOT have enough yarn! I'll have to buy more yarn so I can make an entire hat... it's a cute pattern!

Design from pattern called "3AM Cable Hat" from http://www.smariek.blogspot.com/

Bake-Off Winner Announced

I shared with you earlier in the week I was excited to be following the Pillsbury Bake-Off as the events unfolded over the past few days. The winner was announced on the "Ophah Show" on television today. I thought the winner was going to be announced on Tuesday, but they made the finalists wait. Poor things; the agony of waiting must have been terrible! I encourage you to check out the Pillsbury site to see all the winners and all the recipes from all 100 finalists if that sort of thing interests you. The website is http://www.pillsbury.com/. I think the winning recipe looks tasty and attractive.

With the Bake-Off going on this week, I could not help but reminisce about how much fun my Mom and I had at the Bake-Off two years ago. I was totally tickled when I came home today to find a a nice letter and a package full of goodies from the folks at Pillsbury. It included the cookbook with all of this year's Bake-Off recipes, an apron from Eagle Brand, a pot holder from Crisco, pencil and Post-it notes from Smuckers, and the squishy foam peanut from Jif, as well as an assortment of coupons.



In case you were wondering, I did submit recipes for this year's Bake-Off. I hads loads of ideas, but just couldn't bring myself to work them all up. Suddenly it seemed like so much stress and pressure and work. I told my sister how I was feeling and she said, "You don't have to send any recipes in... you can just wait until another year!" It was so liberating. At the very last minute (the night before the contest closed) I sent in the recipe for this pie. I was pretty proud of this recipe for "Kiwi Lime Pie" but honestly, I think it was a bit better with a graham cracker crust, as oppossed to a flakey pastry crust. Of course I used a Pillsbury crust when I submitted the recipe.

I submitted another recipe for a Cajun-inspired quiche... made with eggs, evaporated milk, celery, onion, bell pepper, andouille sausage, pepper jack cheese, and cayenne pepper for some kick. That recipe probably could have used a bit more work. Hmmmm, maybe next Bake-Off! The gears are turning in my brain now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pillsbury Bake-Off Time!

Would you be interested to know there are 100 women and men electric with excitement in Orlando, Florida, tonight... each knowing they have a 1 in 100 chance of being awarded a $1 Million dollar prize tomorrow morning!? Chances are, they are also completely exhausted and running totally on adrenaline after competing in the 44th Pillsbury Bake-Off today! If you are interested in seeing more about the Bake-Off, there's a lot of information, a blog, photos, and the finalist's 100 recipes all online at http://www.pillsbury.com/. I've had a lot of fun looking at this website today.

Chances are, you don't keep track of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, but I've been pretty excited today knowing it's going on! In early 2007, I entered a recipe in the Pillsbury Bake-Off on a whim. What the heck... you can't win if you don't enter, right? When August 2007, rolled around and I was de-cluttering my house a bit, I stumbled across my recipe and threw it in the trash. I figured if they hadn't called me yet, certainly they had not picked my recipe. After all, for every Bake-Off held, they receive "tens of thousands" of recipe submissions. A few weeks later, I just about died when I "got the call" at work, telling me I was a finalist in the Bake-Off in Dallas, Texas, in April 2008. It was a whirlwind... an opportunity of a life time. I enjoyed every moment but it was especially great because my mom accompanied me to Dallas for the Bake-Off and we had a fantastic time. Here are a few snap shots from the Bake-Off two years ago (the photos are in a very random order).


My mom with Keegan Gearhard. He's a celebrity from The Food Network show called "Food Network Challenge"... I guess you would say he's the host or the Emcee of the challenges featured on the Food Network... cake challenges, sugar challenges, etc. He saw my mom and offered to pose with her for a picture; she had no idea who he was but she went along with it!

My completed recipe on the display table. Phew! I was done. You have to make your recipe at least two times; once for the judges and the second time for this display table. You are given ingredients to make your recipe three times in the allotted time period.


All 100 mini-kitchens ready to go on Orientation Day. The folks on the ballroom floor in this photo were all contest people from General Mills/Pillsbury... not finalists. We had Orientation in the ballroom the day before the Bake-Off and the room temperature was super cold! They turned the temperature down low so the next day during the Bake-Off, when 100 people cranked up their ovens, the room would still be a tolerable temperature. Funny, huh?

Me standing in front of the display table. Yipee, I was done! I was exhilarated but pooped!

Look at us all cooking away. While we cooked, we had runners from Pillsbury/General Mills to help us out and escort us to the judges with our prepared dishes. We also had photos taken in a photography booth, posing with our completed recipe.


Me and my mom having lunch right after the Bake-Off. Do I look tired!? I am holding my prized possession... my hot pads from the Bake-Off floor! I still have them in my kitchen!


Last day of the Bake-Off... dressed up for the Awards Ceremony. The hotel had these poster boards with great photos of our completed dishes. I am pointing to my dish... center column, second row down from the top.

Mom and I are all dressed up for the super fancy Welcome Dinner.

My friend, Tracy, took this photo of me... practicing my recipe in my kitchen at home.


A kitchen mock-up in the hotel. Contest winners won GE appliances.

Recognize this lady? It's Sandra Lee from the Food Network. She was the hostess at the Awards Ceremony.

The Pillsbury Doughboy and me!


Late tomorrow morning sometime, the $1 Million prize will be awarded. It should be posted on the Pillsbury site.... I am anxious to see who the big winner is! And if you are wondering... No, I did not win any of the prizes at the Bake-Off when I was there, but just being there was amazing. If you'd like to see my original recipe, here is the link:

http://www.pillsbury.com/Recipes/ShowRecipe.aspx?rid=44901

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fruity Pebbles Hat is complete!





I am done with my Fruity Pebbles Hat. I am not thrilled with how it looks on me but I had a blast making it! I finished off the top with four little I-cords sort of coiled together to make an interesting looking top-knot. I did complete one earflap since the pattern called for ear flaps but my husband said they looked "dorky" so I removed the earflap. I think I will be in search of a new hat pattern since I had to adjust this one so much. If these photos look a little goofy, it's because I took them myself with my camera at arm's length. I really should get back to my GAA... time to stitch it all together!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A year ago today!


I was working on my post about my Fruity Pebbles hat and, as I was searching for the photos I took today, I stumbled across the photos I took exactly one year ago today. I had just finished my first big person sweater. Here it is. It's a hoodie vest. I think the pattern is called Cropped Hoddie Vest and I recall I found it at http://www.caron.com/. I was so proud. Wow, can't believe that was one year ago... I've always wanted to add a zipper to this vest, but have never gotten around to it. Procrastination seems to be a pattern for me! Did I mention... I still need to stitch together my Great American Afghan!?

Fruity Pebbles Hat


Remember the cereal called "Fruity Pebbles"? For some reason, the colors in this yarn reminds me of Fruity Pebbles cereal so I am calling this my "Fruity Pebbles Hat". This is the same patttern I used for Ginger's hat which I found on http://www.alarmingfemale.com/. I finished the crown of this hat after I took this photo and the hat is too tall and too pointy for my tiny little head (my head is the only petite portion of my body... hee, hee!), so I've ripped back all of the decrease rows and am reworking the cap. Unlike Ginger's hat, I am adding ear flaps. I hope I like it. I love working with this yarn. I am using more Cascade 220 Superwash yarn, just like I am using for my Great American Afghan (which... by the way, still needs to be stitched together!) I should mention that I am not exactly following Alarming Female's pattern. Her version calls for just three rows of seed stitch but I used about 10 rows of seed stitch followed by one row of purl stitch before starting in on the stockinette portion. I thought the yarn looked great in seed stitch, so I just stuck with it until it created a nice rim for the hat. The hat ear flaps are also done in seed stitch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ear infections stink!


Poor Ginger has a wicked ear infection! Complained of painful ear pressure last night; thought it might be allergy related... sinus related... seems all that is connected some how. Awoke in the night to terrible pain and suffered until we got him to the doctor this afternoon. Doctor had to show me how bad it looked... first he showed me the good ear, "this is what a good ear should look like!" Then he showed me the bad one... boy, oh boy... that eardrum looked ANGRY. Doctor, who is ordinarily very conservative with medication, even prescribed a pain killer! Poor Ginger! Ear has drained some today and doctor said it will probably rupture. Poor ear!

Sweet Tabitha at the doctor's office caught us before we left the doctor's office... saying she had something for special patients and apparently we are special patients. (This doctor delivered Ginger 13 years ago). Tabitha makes these little pillows filled with rice. She instructed us to heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and Ginger can hold it to his sore ear. Fabric is a nice, soft flannel like you'd use for pajamas for a child. The pillow is about six inches by six inches. Very sweet. The staff at our doctor's office are great! Here's hoping Ginger feels better soon!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A blog worth checking out

I was just surfing the net and stumbled across this blog. It's amazing and the blogger has FREE patterns for really nice projects. So far I've just looked at the free scarf and hat patterns... very nice. I'll be adding this blog to my favorites!

Here is the link:

http://smariek.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 5, 2010

GAA final layout


I spent several hours working on my Great American Afghan last weekend... several hours! I really struggled to come up with the layout for my project. I decided I would probably never be totally happy with the layout so I decided to just finalize the layout and start stitching. I got ten... that's 10!!!! blocks stitched together... very tedious, very tiring, back breaking work. Took a break with my son to have some dinner and he kept glancing over at the afghan which was laid out on the floor near the dining room table.

Finally I asked, "What!? What is it?!" He said, "you should have listened to me mom!" I knew he was right because as I was stitching things together I noticed I had two really dark squares together... it looked terrible. I unstitched the two dark blocks and then I decided to unstitch all of them... did I tell you? That was 10 blocks to unstitch and hours of work! Argh!!!! I stacked them all up and, as I walked away, I told my son, "Go crazy! Figure it out! I am over it! I've looked at it too much and I just can't figure it out!" I took a shower, put on my jammies, and then sat in a chair as my son CAREFULLY and THOUGHTFULLY went to work.

He started with the Spiraling Square in the center and then made an "X" with the two diagonals reaching to the far four corners. The two blocks with duplicate stitch, Happy Anniversary square and Son's square, are opposite of each other on the diagonal. The colorful Under the Sea and Three Trees squares are also opposite one another on the diagonal. He proceeded to organize the squares by color. He set to work by alternating the blocks not only by color and value (light v.s. dark) but he also explained that some blocks had up and down (vertical) design elements while other blocks had designs which were more centered, so he arranged them so this element would alternate as well.

Yes! A thousand times YES! I should have listened to him! Sure hope I don't sound like one of "those moms"... who just go on and on about their brilliant children... but I tell ya, my son blew me away.

A hat for "Ginger"

My son has been watching me knit for 1 1/2 years now and finally he said, "Mom, could you make me a hat?" I told him, "Sure!" and asked him to describe to me what he wanted. He had very specific ideas as you can tell from the diagram below.

He raided my stash (actually yarn from my Mom's stash... thanks Grandma!) and I showed my son a photo from a pattern I've been eyeing... it's an ear flap hat pattern I found on a website called http://www.alarmingfemale.com/. She has a few free patterns on her blog. This is what we came up with.

I suppose I should explain "Ginger". While in middle school, my son's been nicknamed "Ginger". It actually comes from the cartoon "South Park" (the show LOOKS like something for kids since the characters are kids and it's a cartoon... but trust me... it's not... it's a terrible show... but I digress). On "South Park" people with red hair and freckles are called "Gingers". Instead of being offended or getting all bent out of shaped and feeling teased, my son embraced the nickname and he obviously really gets a kick out of it. He even had a New England Patriot's hoodie personalized with this football number and "Ginger" proudly displayed on the back. I think this says a lot about my son's sense of humor, his resilience, his attitude... all qualities I like about him. He's also got a really funny sense of humor. So that explains this hat!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Morning Glory Muffins



I posted about making homemade granola the other day. It turned out pretty good despite my recipe tinkering. I especially enjoy granola on yogurt. I ACTUALLY made this batch of granola because I've been wanting to try out this recipe for some fairly wholesome muffins called "Morning Glory Muffins". As I was about to top my muffins with granola just before baking, I realized I forgot to add the brown sugar to the batter! Rookie mistake... yikes! I was so disappointed in myself; such a waste of so many ingredients. I quickly sprinkled some brown sugar on top of each muffin, then topped that with the granola, popped it into the oven, and hoped for the best.

Despite my mistake, the muffins were still slightly sweet... the coconut and grated carrot I presume. The streusel-like topping was super yummy. I will definitely make these muffins again with the brown sugar IN the batter. I did substitute toasted pecans for the toasted walnuts and I used just 1% milk. Next time I make these, I will use some unsweetened applesauce in place of some of the oil, too. I found the unsweetened coconut at the health food store; it has a much dryer consistency compared to the sticky, sweet coconut you find at the grocery store. I made 12 muffins which have great tops and I baked them for only 20 minutes.

I think they are the prettiest muffins I've ever made. My husband must have thought so too, because when I woke up this morning, I saw he had eaten one of these muffins when he came home late from work last night. I will be very curious to know his opinion of these muffins. I do a lot of baking just for me (to stock the freezer) since my husband and son are rather picky and they don't care for the more wholesome things I make. Maybe he'll say they were terrible and think it was an April Fool's joke! We'll see! [UPDATE: Hubby just woke up and he mentioned to me he had a muffin last night. I asked what he thought and he said he LIKED them. I told him about THE BROWN SUGAR fiasco and then considered telling him about the wholesome ingredients and why I am so surprised he liked the muffin, but then I decided against it... knowing he'd refuse to eat another muffin once he learned they contained CARROTS (gasp!) and COCONUT (eeewwww!) Then I offered to make him some eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast and asked if he wanted toast. I almost fell over when he said, "I'd like a muffin!"] Enough said... you must try out these muffins... link follows.

Here is a link to the blog "Vanilla Sugar". This creative blogger posts some amazing recipes with great photos!

Our night on the town in Las Vegas

video

We had one night out on the town in Las Vegas. We decided on a show which was billed as the Ultimate Variety Show and it plays at the "V" Theatre in the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino. It included an emcee who was a talented and super funny juggler, some strong and flexible Russian acrobats, a magician, some aerialists, and many other acts. We enjoyed the show immensely and it really was a highlight of our trip. When you are in Las Vegas, you have to see the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. They are especially dramatic at nighttime. The area of the strip in front of the Bellagio is lined with sound speakers, so folks stop to listen and watch. I just took three or four short videos. The videos above and below should give you a glimpse of what it's like. I bet if you venture onto www.YouTube.com, you'd find lots of videos of the Bellagio's fountains.

video

Spring is in the air


When we were recently playing "tourist" in Las Vegas, we ventured into the fancy Bellagio Hotel and Casino. We visited the box office to see about tickets to the Cirque de Soleil production "O". Since it would have been $350.00 to $500.00 for our family to attend, we decided against it; however, the trip to the Bellagio not a waste. As we exited the hotel, we were drawn to this sun filled room with a huge, soaring glass-domed ceiling. It was filled by what must be a giant's garden; almost like something out of a fairy tail. You see the over-sized garden trowel in the distance. Whoops, looks like someone tipped over a yellow clay pot and now the flowers are spilling out.


The garden is speckled with over-sized snails, mushrooms, bees, butterflies, and daffodils.




Water elegantly gushes over this globe. In the foreground, you can see huge flower boxes filled with bulbs. I would have loved the have been there when the tulips started to bloom. The scent would probably be amazing. The room is filled with these boxes of tulip bulbs on the verge of blooming. I noticed in some of these photos, you can see a few daffodils in bloom.

Flowers spilling out of the clay pot. I could not capture it in the photos, but there is a water-feature in this part of the garden. Random spurts or jets of water rocket out of the flowerbed and arc to a spot in the garden 4 or 5 feet away. It catches you by surprise and then a moment later, a spurt of water will jet off in another direction. Whimsical to say the least.
Something great to see from ever angle.

Working as a gardener at the Bellagio might be a fun job. Could you imagine how they decorate this space at Christmastime.




I was so distracted by the wonderful, sunny garden room, that I did not notice the floor until I was racing to catch up to my family. These are true, amazing, incredibly detailed mosaic-tile designs embedded in the floor. Both the floral designs and the geometric designs are made of very tiny 1/4 to 1/2 inch tiles. The Bellagio is all about the details!