2011 Comes to a close

I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers have been doing their “blog year in review” posts reflecting and recapping on their year in the blog world. I still feel relatively new to this new world and don’t have too much to recap on, but I do look forward to 2012 and really developing this blog into something cool. I hope you’ll continue to read it and please give me feedback on things you want to see more or less of. Hopefully this time next year the blog will be so chock-full of fun things that I’ll have  some fun recap posts for you all to reminisce on the awesomeness of the stuff steph does (rather, stuff steph did).

As for a resolution, I’m keeping it simple. Let’s make sure that these are the only mice living in/on the oven all year:

embroidered mouse towel hanging on the oven

(heh heh)

Anyway, once the holidays are over I’ll go back to full force blogging so be ready for some fun stuff!  Until then have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve/Day.

I’ll end this post with an adorable picture of Lucy that Brandon’s sister took while we were in West Virginia. It’s so hard to get a good picture of her face since she is so dark, she usually just looks like a shadow of fur.

See you in 2012!

Cairn Terrier Lucy

Lucy says "Happy New Year!"

 

 

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No-Bake Christmas Goodies

Can you believe it!? I’m officially on “Christmas Break.”  I thought last year was my last year for such a concept, but I managed to pull it off again even with a real grown-up job. Most of the credit has to go to my boss for closing the office for all of next week, but hey, I’ll take it.

Despite being on break Brandon and I have a pretty busy week full of holiday festivities traveling to each of our hometowns, and I didn’t want to walk into our hosts’ homes empty handed (although our “hosts” are our parents, and I think they would let us in anyway, but still) so I spent last Sunday making some awesome truffles.

I knew I had to go the no-bake route because of our quarantined-mouse-poop-filled oven, so these truffles were the way to go…plus they are just so pretty.

Even though they are no-bake it wasn’t necessarily a quick-make, so if you do it, make sure you have a couple hours to spend.

So, without further ado, here’s what I did: (you could also get the recipe here here, but my pictures are more fun…)

let the cream cheese sit out for a while to soften and then slowly mix in the powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate chips and mix that in, too.

Keep mixing until there are no more white streaks. Then cover it up and put it in the fridge for an hour.

So now you have an hour to kill before you can do anything else, what do I suggest you do?

Make peanut butter truffles, of course!

I found this recipe here, (but again, I have fun pictures) Before you start, the recipe says to cover a baking sheet (or 2) with wax paper and put it in the freezer first.

peanut butter truffles ingredients

Mix up all this peanut-buttery goodness. I started out using a spatula and then found it more fun easier to just mix it up with my hands.

Peanut Butter Truffles

Get your frozen baking sheets and roll the peanut butter dough into small balls.

Peanut butter balls

Put those puppies in the freezer for a little bit and since we’re being so efficient with our “chill time” its now time to get out the other chocolate truffle dough and roll that up into small balls.

Once those are all rolled its time to beautify them! I chose an array of toppings to decorate them:

yummy truffle toppings

Roll the balls in whatever kind of topping you want and voila! lovely little truffles! I got little paper cups at Michael’s to finish off the presentation.

easy chocolate truffles

How pretty. But wait! The truffle making madness isn’t over quite yet, (although to be honest, I was getting ready for it to be done by now). We still have to finish up the peanut butter truffles.

When I pulled the Peanut Butter balls out of the freezer I realized that I was a little heavy handed on my ball making skills for this one, especially compared to the chocolate truffles, but since they were frozen I couldn’t break them apart very well and reroll them into smaller balls, so I cut them in half and made them more like peanut butter mounds rather than truffles. Problem solved. This was also a good idea because although the chocolate truffles are way better looking, the peanut butter mounds were definitely the crowd-pleaser. I must admit, I’ve made the chocolate truffles before and they do taste good, but they are super rich and I really only like making them for their looks. Haha, perhaps I can be a bit superficial when it comes to truffles.

But back to the Peanut Butter goodies, I melted dark chocolate candy melts in a bowl and spooned it over each mound to finish them off.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls

Not as pretty, but super tasty!

The crushed graham cracker is what makes these little guys so tasty; adds a little unexpected crunch to the peanut butter.

So there are my no-bake goodies! In the mean time, we did get a new oven! Real baking can finally ensue! I hope everyone has a very merry holiday weekend, and come back soon!

Pretty Paper Ornaments (and the saga of People Magazine)

This past weekend I was going over to friend’s house to help decorate her tree and do other fun Christmas activities. I wanted to contribute something to the festivities, so I decided to make an ornament for her tree.

I had seen these ornaments at West Elm and thought, “how fun are these? I want to make them!”

Newsprint Quilled Ornaments from westelm.com

I’ve never quilled paper before, but it couldn’t be that hard, right? Wrapping paper tightly around a stick…seems easy enough. I watched some youtube videos on it though to be sure my skills would be up to par.  I found this one especially helpful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg-MuY6sJRU

The ornaments in that video are way more fancy than ones from West Elm, and I liked the idea of reusing something from around the house. So I decided to use a People Magazine I had.

all of the above = fun friday night

Before I move on to the nitty gritty of  making these ornaments, I want to give a brief overview of the significance of this People Magazine how the magazine normally weaves its way through my family through a series of blobby diagrams:

Every Christmas, for who knows how long, my mom gives my grandma a year subscription to People.

My grandma then reads the magazine after she gets it in the mail every week. Then she passes it on to her neighbor across the street who gets a chance to catch up on the latest celebrity news.

She returns it to my grandma who then passes it back to my mom.

By now the puzzler is half done and the Star Tracks are old news. But still, the magazine continues its journey to my sister.

So wait, what the heck? What’s missing in this flow-chart-of-People-Magazine-sharing craziness?

Sometimes I’ll squeeze in between steps 2 and 3 or 3 and 4, but only if I’m at the right place at the right time…

Ok, Steph, I thought you were going to talk about making ornaments! Get on with it already!

Ok, ok, I’m getting on with it. But first the significance of this particular people Magazine?

That’s right! It skipped steps 2-4 and made a detour straight to me! Fresh Puzzler and everything! So in honor of it, I immortalized and transformed parts of it into beautiful ornaments. (Ok, so it wasn’t  really that big of a deal, but fun blobby diagrams, eh?)

I looked for pages that were brightly colored, ripped them out and cut them into 1/4″ strips lengthwise.

 

The woman in the video has a quilling tool, which, if you’re going to do this a lot, I would suggest looking into that. I just used the skinniest double pointed needle I had, and rolled up the strips, colored side out.

It took about a whole sheet’s worth of strips to make one ornament. I ended up making two.

Lessons learned/things to try:

  • These ornaments are pretty fragile. They can easily become unwound from the middle and spiral out of formation. It’s fixable, but can be annoying. This could probably be fixed by using more sturdy paper or if there was a way to shellac them to give them some more strength
  • I like that the West Elm ornaments are “outlined” with paper. I think you could easily do this by using a cookie cutter as a form.
  • Try using newsprint or much longer strips of paper. That way the coil would be tighter and may hold its place better.

Even though they’re fragile. They still look pretty on the tree!

Can you believe it’s less than a week til Christmas!? Enjoy the last few days of the Holiday Craze!

Shimmery Cowl (pattern)

Ahh is the week over yet?! There’s a deadline at work next week which means I leave for and come home from work in the dark…so I apologize for the low-lit, drywall-background pictures, but the blog must go on despite long work hours! I can’t keep waiting until the weekend for sunny, fence pictures.  Although I do like sunny, fence pictures the best…

Here’s a Shimmery Cowl to brighten your Thursday. And guess what?! It’s not green!

I used Moda Dea Caché yarn. Color: Wink.

Photo from Etsy.com

I had about 2.5 skeins of this yarn and was just going to go until I used it up.

Here’s the pattern….(super simple again)

I used US size 11 Circular Needles

CO 100 (ish) and join stitches.

K 4 rounds

P 2 rounds

Repeat until its the desired thickness.

Bad Hair Day (…a green theme?)

It’s Wednesday! Only one more week of work for me before an 11-day break from work!  Eleven Days! Can you even imagine the things that can be made during those days?!

Ohhh man, too pumped.

In the meantime here’s a hat I made during my second year of grad school. Architecture school means lots of nights with little or no sleep, and that means if I could get by without doing my hair for an extra half-hour of sleep, that’s what happened. So here’s a nice little hat that can cover up a bad hair and actually make it look like you tried to look like that! ha!

ahhh, I couldn’t get away with cropping out my head with this one…

I actually completely forgot about this hat until I posted about the green circle scarf because this was where one of the scraps came from. It was Lion Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Olive (? maybe? or mustard? I can’t really tell from my screen, and I don’t really remember)

Note: It must seem like that I’m an avid Lion Brand Yarn user and obsessed with all things green (gum, yarn, soda, etc). Neither are true. All coincidental.  Non-green, non-Lion Brand things are forth coming.

Note 2: I was just looking for the pattern I used for this and the blog isn’t up anymore! I’ll be on the lookout for another similar pattern, but if you find one that you like, let me know!

Chunky Cowl (pattern)

Like I said before I’ve been knitting like crazy and for the most part I’ve been on a “cowl kick.” I really like circle scarves and these are the same idea only a little smaller and faster to make! What’s not to like?

This one was made out of Lion Brand Thick and Quick yarn in Lemongrass color and takes a littler over a half a skein.

I used size 13 circular needles, so no seams again!

I modified the moss stitch (which is p1, k1 around then k1, p1) and just doubled it, perhaps we shall call it a double moss stitch? heck, for all I know, that could be what its called.

anywho, here’s what I did:

CO 48

all odd rounds:     k2, p2 around
all even rounds:   p2, k2 around
(so you end up with a checkerboard type pattern)

mine is about 9″ long. Of course you could make it shorter or longer to your preference.

Have a good tuesday!

Happy Thursday

Today was a good day. Here’s why:

– It was sunny all day. This past week has been pretty gloomy/soggy/rainy. Today was a very welcomed change.

– We are getting a new oven! It’s a bummer the mice took over what was a great gas range…but we should be getting a replacement on Monday!

– I found a place super close to work that sells diet Mt Dew that doesn’t require a minimum purchase to use your card! (I have two “vices,” diet Mt Dew and spearmint Orbit gum…curiously both are green…) I’ve cut down on the stuff since grad school, but sometimes, especially around 2 pm on a Thursday afternoon, I need it.

-I met my parents halfway between Columbus and Toledo to trade off my dog since Brandon and I are going to his sister’s college graduation this weekend and had a very enjoyable dinner.

-Lucy tolerated this cheesy sweater I made for her a few years ago:

20111208-222437.jpg

(that’s right, my dog has a turtleneck sweater…)

– and finally, tomorrow is Friday!

Hope you all had a good day!

Going Green (super simple scarf)

While my yarn collection could very well take over rooms and rooms of space (much to Brandon’s dismay) I keep it condensed into a small(ish) plastic bin. The only problem with this strategy is that yarn can be easily forgotten and lost in the depths of the bin since the most recently used and newer stuff ends up on top.

A couple weeks ago I delved into the depths of the bin and found these three different yarns leftover from three completely different projects. I liked how they went together, so voila! a circle scarf.

It was super simple, and an easy way to make something fun out of scrap yarn. Perhaps I’ll dig around in that bin more often and see what other fun combos I come up with!

Simple Pattern:

I used US 13 needles

CO 18 stitches
g st (knit every row) until you run out of yarn!
sew it up into a loop when you’re done.

my “loop” ended up being 54″ in diameter, which seems to be the perfect length for wrapping it around twice.

What fun things have you made out of scraps of yarn?

Arms get cold too…

Around the same time I made the leg warmers, I decided the upper appendages needed some extra fuzzy warmth as well.  I made these arm warmers so that my arms would stay toasty whilst typing away on the computer late at night in the architecture studio:

Knitted out of Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair in Safari on double pointed needles so there were no seams. Love me some seamless knitting!

Super Comfy Shirt

I think I’ve mentioned this “future blog post” 2 or 3 times by now, so here it is already! The bird fabric in another form.  A super comfy shirt:

So you might be thinking, “Two pieces in the same fabric?! Why would you do such a thing?” and my answer is, “Why the heck not?”  The fabric is great and this shirt is perfect for lounging around in leggings…which is exactly what I did in it this weekend.

Happy Monday!