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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Completed Baby Blankets with Scalloped Crochet Edge

Here is how the baby boy blanket looked after I finished crocheting the scalloped edge. I am including photos of the process with a thicker thread (for my girl blanket) so that you can see it well enough to replicate the edges yourself.This is how the blanket looked after I single crocheted once around.This is how to start the second row.This is how the second row looks when completed.To start the third row single crochet in one hole, skip a hole, then double crochet 5 times into a single hole. Skip a hole and repeat until you're done.This shows how it looks when you have completed 5 double crochets into the single hole and you skip a hole and go to the second hole.This is just showing the above explanation.

This is how it looks going around a corner.

Now if I can do this almost anyone can do this. I just learned to crochet a few weeks ago. I started by making wash rags, and this was the second project I learned. It's really a simple process of repetition. Once you do it once you should be able to repeat with more speed and accuracy each time. The hardest part for me was learning to hold the thread around my hand and finger with the correct tension. I have been shown 3 different ways by 3 different women, so really it's a matter of personal preference. Also, the first blanket (shown at top and in a previous post) used a really thin thread. It was a good thread to learn with. However, I prefer the look of the thicker thread that I used on the girl blanket. I think it holds its shape a lot better, and stands out a lot more. But, again, it's just a matter of personal preference.

* Quick note- I haven't found a machine that will poke large holes for me. I have heard that there are people who will punch the holes with a machine for $1 a side. However, I found out that my new sewing machine ($119.97 at WalMart) had a hem stitch option. I got a wing needle, and stitched without thread about 3/16" in around the entire blanket. It made it much easier to keep things even. I poked through every other hole. When necessary I used the ice pick to enlarge the holes. Also, the second blanket (girl) was a lot thicker felt than the blue blanket. It seemed to be a lot easier to work with.

** You can also add a back to the blanket if you want to have a print and solid color or a print on both sides. I haven't added any to mine, but I was told that you can sew two materials together, then poke the holes and do the same process I used. I was also told that you can single crochet around both of them, then use the second row to put them together, then continue onto the third row. I think I would opt for the first of these two options because it would be difficult to make the stitches line up exactly.

*** The lady at the fabric store asked what I was making, and I told her that the only complaint I have about the felt (especially the thinner felt) is that I can't get it to iron flat. She suggested that I go to the dollar store and buy a product called Magic Sizing. She said it's a lot lighter than starch, but that it adds enough to the material that it will iron flat and keep its shape better.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cook Once, Eat Twice

I love the thought of only having to cook one night, but being able to feed my family two different meals on two different nights.

Recipe for Dinner One:
French Dip
Super easy crock-pot recipe!

1 beef roast of your preference (I usually get the biggest one I can find with the least amount of fat)
Beef Bouillon
1 package Italian seasoning mix
Rolls (regular dinner or crusty rolls - whatever)

Basically you just cook the roast for 24 hours.

I sear my roast first in a very hot skillet, just a minute or so on each side.
Then put your roast in your slow cooker and measure in cups enough water to cover the roast. I find that almost always, no matter the size of the roast or the slow cooker 5 or 6 cups will do it. Then add a corresponding number of beef bouillon cubes of tablespoons of instant beef bouillon. Also add the package of Italian seasoning. Stir it all together, and then stir it again after an hour or so, after the bouillon has dissolved.
Here's a tip - sometimes you have to move the roast around too, if there is a lot of fat in the meat it might float a little and you want to be sure it all gets cooked evenly.
Oh and you should have your slow-cooker set to "low."
Another tip: If I forget to get my roast started a full 24 hours in advance, I will often set the slow-cooker to "high" for a few hours and then turn it down. IE: It's midnight on Saturday night and I just remembered I wanted to have a roast for Sunday dinner at 3 or 4 o'clock. Set the slow-cooker to "high" and then when you wake up in the morning, turn it down to low.
After 24 hours of cooking, take your roast out and shred it. You do this with a couple of forks. Just pick it apart.
Serve the meat on rolls with a bowl of the juice from the slow-cooker on the side. This is the best French dip you will ever have!!
Now, be sure to save all of your left over meat and at least 3-4 cups of the juice too for the next night's recipe.

Recipe for Dinner Two:
Green Chile Burros
A family favorite. This freezes really well too, so I make a TON of it and freeze it individual and family servings in Ziploc bags.

1 large onion diced
2 Tbsp oil
1-2 cups of left-over roast meat (we are of course using the beef roast from French dip, but you can also use left-over pork roast meat)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 beef bouillon cube
1 can of diced green chiles (the little cans)
2 Tbls chili powder
1 can refried beans

Saute the onion in a little bit of oil (I use Canola). Add the meat and heat it through, but be sure not to saute or fry it. Add the tomatoes plus a little water (about 1/4 of the can to get all those good tomato juices), the bouillon, green chiles, chili powder, and refried beans. Stir it all together. You will most likely find that it needs a little more moisture. That's why you saved the juice from last night. Add the juice until you get a good consistency. If you don't have any juice you can add water and more bouillon cubes.

Serve in a flour tortilla, with a little more of the filling on top also. You can also add cheese or sour cream, although I like mine plain.

And get this, once upon a time I even figured out the calories for this dish. If you use about 14 oz of lean roast and non-fat beans, allowing two small burros per serving, then there are right around 4 servings at about 332 calories per serving. Not bad! (of course that doesn't include the tortilla or any other toppings)

Tip: Because I use the biggest roast I can find (and fit in my Crock pot) I usually end up doubling this recipe, and sometimes even tripling it. Then I am able to freeze enough for anywhere from 4-6 dinners for my family of 4 (only 3 of us are eating table food though).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Corn and Bean Salsa Recipe

I got this recipe from my friend Quincy. It tastes delicious, and it's fairly nutritious. Works well for a girl's night in.

Corn and Bean Salsa
1 bunch of cilantro (or to taste)
1 bunch of green onions (or to taste)
3-4 roma tomatoes
1 avocado
2 cans corn
2 cans black eyed peas
2 packets Good Seasons Italian Dressing

Make one packet of the Good Seasons Italian Dressing according to package directions. Set aside. Drain the cans of corn and black eyed peas, then rinse. Chop up tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and avocado. Add everything and the unmixed packet of dressing to a bowl and stir well. Add the mixed dressing to the bowl and stir. Refrigerate 3-4 hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.

Baby blanket- in progress

I just learned to crochet 2 1/2 weeks ago. I tried to learn when my eldest son was a baby, and it did not happen. I didn't have high hopes that I'd learn this time, but I had great teachers so I got the hang of it. Here are the pictures of the blankets in progress.

Get 1 1/4 yard of flannel with your favorite print.
Wash and dry it, then trim to 1 yard.
If you don't have access to a machine to poke holes for you then use an ice pick I (like I did) and poke holes every 3/16", about 1/4" from the edge of your fabric. Only after I started did I notice how off my holes were. I guess I'll use a ruler next time.
Crochet through the first hole. This is what it will look like when you're done with the first row.

Go under the "loop" on the top and single crochet. This is how the second row looks when it's done.
For the last row go through the small loop between the first and second row and do a single crochet. Skip a loop, then do 5 double crochets through a single loop. Skip another hole and repeat the single crochet.

It isn't completed yet, but when it is I will post a photo of it. It's so fun and easy!

Friday, March 6, 2009

More of a hobby thing

Less of a craft thing.  But I just finished this book:
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  Now don't be intimidated by the 1,067 pages, or by the people who have told you that it is a book all about economics and politics.  Those are the things that made me think I wouldn't like it.  But guess what?  I did like it.  Ayn Rand is a good story teller.  And for you girls (cause I doubt there are many guys who read this blog, but I could be wrong - it has been known to happen), there is romance!  I also thought this would be one of those wordy books.  And it is - in a way.  But not in the way that kept me from reading it.  Let me explain that.  When I read a book, I want to be entertained.  I am past the time in my life where I have to read books only for the purpose of learning something or getting a good grade or passing a test or whatever.  When I read a book, I don't want to have to think too hard about it.  That's not to say that I don't read books to learn stuff anymore.  It's just that that is the exception rather than the standard nowadays.  I mostly want to enjoy myself and escape for a little while.  Which is the biggest reason why I have yet to make it all the way through any Jane Austen book, or The Count of Monte Cristo, or Les Miserables.  (All books that are on my list of books to read.)  But back to Atlas Shrugged.  Sometimes it can get a little wordy, and her heros tend to get long winded, but it's not hard to follow or understand.

Bottom line:  I highly recommend this book.  But be warned:  It will change the way you think about everything.  It did for me.  That doesn't necessarily mean that it will change your opinions, beliefs, or values.  But it will change the way you think about them.

Has anyone else read this?  Did you have a similar experience?  Did you enjoy the book, or not at all?  I really want to know!