Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recently Completed Crochet Projects

I have some bigger afghan and blanket projects that I'm working on right now, but I thought to mix it up a bit I would do a few smaller projects as well. It's always fun to begin and end a project in the same sitting.

Can Cozy - Easy

Can Cozy

I found this pattern at Lion Brand's website. They have so many great free patterns. It was so fun and easy to make! In Hawaii these are absolutely necessary due to the massive amounts of condensation caused by the daily humidity! It would make a great gift for Father's Day! Click here for the pattern.

Washcloth - Easy

HDC WC 4

I created the pattern for this washcloth, which again, was so simple to make. It has a little texture to it which makes it great for exfoliating, but thanks to the cotton yarn remains very soft to the touch. I used Peaches and Cream in White throughout. Simply chain 25, half double crochet in 2nd chain from hook and then in each chain across. *Chain 2, turn, half double crochet in back loop only of each half double crochet across. Chain 2, turn, half double crochet in each half double crochet across. Repeat from * until desired length is reached. Mine is 6 1/4 inches.

Hot Pad - Beginner

Hot Pad

This hot pad was from another free Lion Brand pattern. However the pattern says to use three strands of yarn held together throughout and I only used one, because I wasn't sure I had enough yarn. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll say it anyway, it was fun and easy to make! Click here for the pattern.

Any of these projects would be a great way to pass a rainy day or to make a thoughtful gift for someone! All of them are either beginner or easy difficulty level and would be ideal for people learning to crochet or wanting to practice their technique!

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

I've been making this recipe for a while now and every time I do, it's such a hit, I decided to post the recipe. Like the meatloaf recipe, it too is very easy to make. Tasty and easy are always a good combo!

Ingredients

  • 3 small boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 lb sour cream
  • 2-4.5 oz cans of chopped/peeled green chiles
  • 1 lb (family size0 cream of chicken soup
  • 8 oz package of Mexican style blend cheese
  • 1 dozen white corn tortillas

Procedure

Boil chicken breasts in saucepan filled 3/4 of the way with water for 45 minutes. Let cool then shred. Combine shredded chicken with sour cream, green chiles, and cream of chicken soup in a large pot. Bring to boil and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat. In 13 x 9 baking dish layer mixture, corn tortillas, mixture, corn tortillas, mixture in a similar fashion as making lasagne. Finish by sprinkling 3/4 of the cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese around the edges (during baking the cheese will have melted, thus pulling away from the edges) and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Chk Enchil

Note: Though Hawaii has many great qualities buying ingredients to cook Mexican food is not one of them which is why I use the can chiles for this recipe.

Short and Happy

I simply could not take it anymore.  I cut my hair.  I was afraid as soon as it was done I would regret my decision and begin crying hysterically, after all I've spent the better part of the last two years growing it out, but instead it has been the source of much happiness!  I also feared it would feel awkward or strange to have short hair again, but it doesn't.  In fact I've felt more like myself since I cut than I have in quite a while.  I should have listened to everyone (mainly my Mom and Grandma) and done it ages ago, but hey, better late than never.

Profile Pic 2

Sunday, April 19, 2009

StumbleUpon

I once heard that there are more websites on the internet than there are people in the world.  I don't know how true that is, but judging by the number of results you get when you Google something, particularly something like an issue every American should have on their priority list like American Idol or Brittney Spears, I would say this statement is true.

The question is how do you go about weeding out the not-so-great-and-downright-terrible-sites and find the truly-spectacular-can't live-without-sites?  The answer, StumbleUpon.  I actually heard about this site several months ago and even though it sounded cool at the time, I didn't pursue it further.  Big mistake.

For those of you who haven't been blessed to be a Stumbler, StumbleUpon is a website that allows you to select your interests and then goes out and traverses the ever expanding and beyond vast world wide web and finds sites relative to those interests. (For those of you who are a Stumbler and didn't bother telling me what I was missing, you suck.)  They offer many, many interests in varying categories to choTyping 1 Clip Artse from.  Then you simply hit the "Stumble" icon and you're off.  In mere seconds (depending on your internet connection) you're first site pops up.  You decide whether or not you like or dislike a site by clicking either the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" icon.  If you want to stay and peruse the sight you can or you can hit stumble again.  If you select the "thumbs up" it's added to your favorites (not the favorites in your browser, the favorites in your StumbleUpon account).  The more times you stumble and the more likes and dislikes it catalogs for you, the more specific-to-you profile it comes up with for you, resulting in even more sites you'll love!!!  It's truly a thing of genius. 

You do have to register first, and by register I mean enter your email, select a username, and pick a password.  It's not exactly rocket science.  Later, after I had Stumbled for a while I went back, built my profile and added my pic, because anymore profiles are like dessert, not totally necessary but adds to the overall experience.  You can also add tags, give your own reviews, and communicate with other Stumblers.

One of my favorite features is the ability to stumble specific "Channels" like Blogger or Flickr.  This is great because I love finding a good blog, but often I have to sift through so many duds about things I have zero interest in, that I get tired and give up.  Not anymore.  There's also a great toolbar you can install and Firefox has an Add-On for it.

I added a list to my sidebar of just a few of the great sites I found while Stumbling last night.  Which reminds me, I should warn you about how easy it is to lose track of time on StumbleUpon.  If you have to be somewhere, or need to take something out of the oven, just make sure to watch the clock, because this site is crazily addictive and before you know it, it's a week later and you haven't eaten, slept, showered or even moved from you seat.  Ok, that might be a little dramatic, but you get the picture.

I love the internet.  Think about it, anything you need or want is at your fingertips whenever you want it.  If you want to learn Chinese, or how to carve a watermelon into a pirate ship, or what the top exporters of Zimbabwe are, it's there.  The biggest problem with the internet is the sheer volume it offers, and like a technological needle in a haystack how can one person possibly sort through it all?  With StumbleUpon, problem solved.

StumbleUpon Link

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meatloaf With a Kick!

A few months ago I had dinner at a friends house and she made one of the best meatloaf's I had ever had.  Since then I had been wanting to try her recipe myself and last night I finally did.  I made a few modifications, and it made this formally not-a-meatloaf lover into the biggest fan of meatloaf there ever was!  Even Garret loved it, in fact this morning he asked me when I was planning on making it again, that's always a good sign!

The best thing about this recipe is that it's so easy to make!  Also, you might find that you already have the ingredients needed to make it on hand.  I should add that I'm using the term "recipe" loosely here, as it's not an exact science, but that can actually be a good thing since you can modify it to better match the tastes of your family! 

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • salsa
  • grated cheese
  • corn tortilla chips (crunched up into little pieces)

Simply mix the above ingredients together, form into a loaf, and bake at 375 degrees for an hour.  I used 1/2 of a 16 oz jar of Medium Pace Picante and 1/4 of a jar of Hot Pace Picante; for the cheese I used about a cup of Mild Cheddar; and for the corn tortilla chips I used 2-3 handfuls of Tostito's Bite Size.  It was so yummy!  In fact just writing this post, is making me mouth water. 

I served it with Spanish rice and the two complimented each other beautifully!

What's Your Sign?

Astrology has always fascinated me.  For as long as I can remember I have felt a strong connection to my sun sign, Gemini.  This ability to identify so much with something, compelled me to seek out mountains of information on the subject.  Time and time again I found it was able to describe me and my life so accurately it would've been eerie if it wasn't so cool. 

Zodiac

Like my new "World of Tarot" series, this is the first post in another new series I'm featuring on this blog called "What's Your Sign".  As you could've guessed from the title, it will focus on all things astrologically related. 

Astrology has been said to be the oldest science.  Long ago it was considered to be one with astronomy.  Whereas astronomy studies those entities that inhabit the sky and how they interact within the universe, astrology studies the movements of said entities and how these movements relate to and effect the actions and thoughts of humans.  Just like any other science it is very complex, so for the purposes of this series we will focus on the part of astrology most people are at least somewhat familiar with the sun signs. 

Before we get into that however, a little background information is necessary.  A birth chart is a diagram of the zodiac at the exact time of your birth.  The three major components that most astrologers will look for first are your sun sign, rising sign and moon sign.  Your sun sign is reflective of where the sun was at the time of your birth.  Your moon sign is reflective of which sign the moon was in at the time of your birth.  Your rising sign is reflective of which sign was rising at the time of your birth.  This sign is indicative of your outward demeanor and to a large extent determines how the outside world looks at you.  For this reason It is usually more telling than the popular sun sign, and throughout history was more frequently utilized as a result.  However, in order to determine your rising sign you must know the time of your birth which many people do not know which is how the sun sign rose into popularity because only your date of birth is needed to determine it.  Keep in mind this a huge oversimplification of a birth chart, there is much more to it.  If you are interested in getting your own check out this link to the astrology cafe which offers them for free.  Just know in order to get the comprehensive version you have to know your date, TIME and place of birth. 

As I previously mentioned astrology is a very complex science and in an effort to not overload you with too much, too quickly I will say good-bye for now.  The next entry in this series will discuss sun sign triplicities, quadruplicities and polarity. 

Make it Yours!

I love, love, love notebooks! This probably stems from my love of writing, and hey, what's better to write in than a notebook? Too bad the really cute ones can be so expensive. To circumvent this issue, I buy a cheap notebook and personalize it with stickers, scrapbook background paper, and embelishments. This turns a plain and somewhat boring notebook into one that says it belongs to you!

For example, recently I bought a very DSCI0400generic, 3 subject, college ruled notebook at Wal-Mart (I wish I had a before pic, oops, next time). Then I added stickers to the front, scrapbook background paper to the divider tabs. and voila I turned the generic into the cutest!

DSCI0391 DSCI0393

Welcome to the World of Tarot!

Have you ever had a tarot reading? Are you curious as to how it works? This is the first in a series of posts on learning more about the tarot and becoming a reader yourself! I have been reading tarot cards for the last four years, and I absolutely adore it! It has brought so much insight into my life and allowed me to help others in both good times and bad.

My own experiences reading the cards have taught me that while they can and do predict events to come, more often than not, it is simply a tool to help you figure out what you already know but are ignoring or avoiding it for whatever reason. The tarot has been used as a tool of divination for centuries. There are numerous tarot decks, but for the purpose of this series, I will focus on the Rider Waite deck which is the one I use. In the I hope to explore some of the tarot decks available, but for now lets start with the basics.

The picture on each Tarot card is extremely important. They are loaded in symbolism. The meanings for each card are reflected in it's picture. You can learn a lot just by studying the pictures closely. In fact Silver Ravenwolf one of my favorite witches and authors of all things magickal said in her book "Solitary Witch" that when she teaches the tarot she doesn't allow her students to read any books on the subject for the first three weeks of training. Instead she has them focus on what they can learn intuitively by working with and studying the cards. You may want to try this by browsing pictures of the cards on the web, then later you can compare the meanings you deciphered to those that I post here.

The tarot is comprised of 78 cards; 22 of which are considered "Major Arcana" and the remaining 56 are "Minor Arcana". Within the Minor Arcana are four different suits: Swords, Cups, Wands, and Pentacles. First we will focus on the cards. Later we will move on to different types of spreads and tips on interpreting the cards within those spreads.

The first card in the deck is "The Fool". It symbolizes beginnings, turning new over a new leaf, potential, and childlike innocence. It is usually indicative of happy things to come. The only warning I usually give with this card is to make sure you're head isn't so far in the clouds that you step off a cliff, as the picture demonstrates.

RW Tarot The Fool

The second card in the deck is "The Magician". It symbolizes the power to manifest thought into form. Not like I'm thinking of an apple, poof, there it is, but more like thinking I want a raise, and then making the choices and taking the actions which will make it happen. The Magician also represents skill, creative mastery, and time to seize opportunities.

RW Tarot The Magician

The next installment of this series will include The High Priestess (one of my favorite cards), The Empress, and The Emperor.

Current Projects . . . .

I'm currently working on a few loom knitting and crochet projects. I hadn't crocheted in years, but I had so much fun making the crocheted shell border on my loom knitted baby blanket that I decided to get back into the crocheting game. I'm starting off with a few easy patterns, just until I get back into the swing of things.

Sweat Pea Afghan

Sweat Pea Afghan I first saw this afghan on Lion Brand's website, and I totally fell in love with it. Instead of using the yarn specified, which I love to work with, but is a little pricey, I used coordinating colors by Red Heart in their Super Saver line available at Wal-Mart. I'll probably make two of these afghans. The first one is to work out the kinks and get back into the groove of crocheting. The second will be to give as an actual gift to my sister for one of her three beautiful girls, and depending on how the Red Heart yarn turns out, I might decide to use the Lion Brand yarn instead. The pattern is free at Lion Brand.com.

Speed Hook Baby Blanket

Speed Hook Baby Blanket This is another one from Lion Brand (they have the best website). I knew I had to do it, when I realized I already had the perfect yarn for it. I'm making slight modifications to this pattern as well. For example I'll either be using a size P or Q hook, instead of the Lion Brand's Speed Hook which is a size S. Also, I may only use two strands of yarn instead of three. I'm doing some preliminary experimenting before I decide for sure. This crochet project compliments the Sweet Pea Afghan because together they utilize many crocheting techniques. When they're both finished, I will have had a very comprehensive crocheting review! This pattern is also free at Lion Brand.com

Loom Knitting Project

The loom knitting project I'm currently working on, and just about in the middle of, is a baby blanket for Garrets, best friend Albert who's coming to visit us tomorrow. His son, Mallus, was born in September and I've been wanting to do a blanket for him for a while now. Nothing like someone's impending arrival to get you to kick it into high gear and finally make it. It's a version of the blue baby blanket I recently finished, except it has three panels instead of two; it's twice as long (112 rows instead of 60), and I'm making it using black yarn instead of blue. I'm going to use a varigaded camo yarn for the border. I haven't totally decided on what type of border to use, the same crocheted shells or an I-chord. Either way, it's coming along better than I could've hoped and I'm growing more and more excited to see the finished project. (Since this is my own pattern, I won't have a picture until it's done and for a general guideline you can use the baby blanket pattern and make the above noted modifications.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Recent Photos

Here are just a few of the photos I've taken recently in an effort to try and become a better photographer!

Just the Guys BW

 

Upward Tree

 

Rose By Any Other Name

 

Happy Couple

Loom Knitting - Baby Blanket


I recently finished loom knitting my first baby blanket! Until now I had only made beanies, many, many beanies in various sizes. I'm definitely expanding my loom knitting horizons!

It was incredibly easy to make. Below is the pattern I created for this project:

  • Use 2 strands of Red Heart Super Saver in Light Blue throughout (any worsted weight yarn would work)
  • Using the purple rectangle KK loom (36 pegs), cast on with the figure 8 method
  • Using the double knit (figure 8) stitch, knit 60 rows
  • Crochet bind off - 1st panel completed
  • Repeat from beginning to make a 2nd identical panel
  • Join together with mattress seam
  • Single crochet around entire blanket
  • Finish by crocheting a scalloped border
If you are unfamiliar with crocheting this video tutorial is very helpful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book Lovers Unite!

Shelftari 1

OMG! I just found the best website ever for book enthusiasts like myself! It's called Shelfari and it's totally rocking my world right now. I actually heard about it through the Spouse's Club I belong to. It was in an article written by our book club in our monthly newsletter. They described it as a MySpace for people who like to read and couldn't stop with the praise about it. At the time, I have to admit (shamefully) I was like, what's the big deal? It's a site about books, and while I love them and all, how could that really be as fun as she's making it out to be. What a fool I was. Curiosity peaked, I checked it out, and within minutes I was hooked.

You start my building your bookshelf. You can either choose your books manually, or have Shelfari pre-populate it with books for you. At first I thought this would be both daunting and time consuming, but before long I had accumulated over a hundred books on my shelf! Some I've read in the past, some I'm reading now, and others that I want to read in the future. You can rate them, write reviews on them, and mark your favorites. I talk books a lot with both my sister, Erica, and my BFF, Tommy, and I always feel so stimulated after one of these conversations. Shelfari is like that but on steroids! It was so fun!!!! I now have a place to share my views and opinions on books with other people who share the same passion about them as I do, anytime I feel like it! I didn't even know I was sub-consciously longing for a place to do just that, until I found Shelfari.

You can also network with other reading fanatics by joining reading groups, or even creating your own; and of course there's always the ever popular (thanks to MySpace) "Friends" list, which works similarly by inviting and approving friend requests . Also, people post questions like, "Should I read Twilight? Does it live up to all the hype?" which you can respond to. In fact this was one of the features that drew me in because I was able to immediately post my responses without having to create a long drawn out profile. Speaking of profiles when I did get around to doing mine, I was pleasantly surprised to find that all you have to do is post a blurb "About Me" and not bother with the other, oft time superfluous profile categories like "who I'd like to meet", "blood type" (are you kidding me?), etc.

If you're the type of person that can go into a book store and pass the hours like minutes then this is a site you should definitely check out.

Shelfari Website Link

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