Sunday, December 14, 2008

Late night Photoshop fun

T had to work the rare overnight last night so I had the house to myself. I took advantage of the peace and quiet to play around on the computer without any interruptions. I'd been wanting to try out some of the free actions I downloaded a while back. Nothing crazy fancy, just some simple color adjustments to get a little closer to a pro look. I tried out quite a few, but most were too wacky for my taste. But there were a bunch that I think I will definitely hang onto. Just for kicks, I thought I'd share. All of these are available free. I think most of them are from ActionCentral. You can probably google for the ones that aren't.

Here is the original pic. It was a bit dark and also had a reddish cast to it.

I did a little tweaking to the curves to brighten it up, and I also did a defog, but nothing else major.

Here's the first set of afters (click on the image to see it larger). From left, Midnight Sepia, Black & Color, and Barely Vintage.

Set 2: Urban Acid, Bloom, and Lomo.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gotta love trades

pink beanie - front viewside view

This is another brimmed beanie hat, crocheted in alternating stripes of hot pink and a pink/white variegated cotton yarn. I'm slowly but surely perfecting my pattern for this style of hat. This is my favorite so far in terms of the shape of the brim, although I made it a single layer instead of the usual double, so it's softer. This was part of a trade for a mini-session with one of my favorite photographers, the uber-talented Chera.

Judging by how our pictures turned out, I think I definitely got the better end of the deal! ;) Here's a peek at one of my favorite shots.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shoutout for my crafty friends

I'm very lucky to have many friends who are also extremely talented in the crafty arena. I don't give them nearly enough credit for helping me come up with new project ideas, giving me tips when I'm stuck, or just generally motivating me to get some stuff done. Recently (and not-so-recently) a few of them have made stuff for me and/or E, and I thought I'd share.

This past summer, my best friend offered to make a tote bag for E for school. I was expecting your basic tote bag, maybe in a cute fabric instead of plain old canvas, but instead, I got this gorgeous bag that was lined with inside pockets and even a D-ring to clip my keys to! I was almost tempted to keep it for myself and buy E a generic tote bag. Hee. I think she's also making me a matching bag now because I liked it so much.

Oh, and this is in addition to the hats she made for me, T & E last year, when E was still a bitty baby.

I should mention, that the thing around my neck is a moebius strip that she knitted from the center out. It's super convenient because it's smaller and easier to manage than a scarf, and it's also very pretty and warm. I've been wearing it a lot lately and I get tons of compliments on it.

Most recently, my friend
Jacki made some wool longies for E out of some sweaters I gave her as part of a swap we worked out. Here's the before of the sweaters: red sweater - beforeblue sweater - before And the after:

How cute are they?!! I'll have to take another pic of her wearing them to post later. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Well ok, just one pic

Here's some of the fabric I got last week. (Try to ignore the clutter of my sewing table in the background.) I think the pink owls and the fire trucks are my favorites.

And on a positive note, I got some new clear storage bins, so my room is starting to look a little more organized.

I know it's been a while since I've posted any new projects, but I promise, I am working on stuff. Just slowly. Very slowly. Currently, I'm working on a few different crochet hats that I'm trading for goods and services. I should be done no later than the end of the weekend, so check back. :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Yeah, I'm crazy

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but today I officially became one of those crazy people that gets up at 6am to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The craziest part? I went shopping not for a flat screen TV or some new-fangled toy, but for fabric. Yeah.

Normally, I avoid Black Friday sales like the plague (in fact, I generally try not to leave the house that day if I can help it), but Joann had a bunch of really good deals and I just couldn't resist. I was expecting the worst, like people pushing and shoving, but I will say, it was really quite civilized. Mostly nice older ladies who were very polite and apologetic about getting in each other's way and willing to pass on what was left of the bolts they used. I'm sure it was a different scene at Walmart.

I don't have the camera handy, but even if I did, I'm not sure I can post a picture of what I bought. It's too embarassing. Let's just say I went overboard and leave it at that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sock creatures, hats and more babylegs, oh my!

I keep saying that I'm done making babylegs for good, but then I see some adorable socks and I just can't resist churning out one or two more pairs. I'm a sucker, what can I say? But here are two pairs from that last big batch that I saved for E. They're a cashmere blend so they're super soft and snuggly.

But I have also been busy making some other stuff, both for fun and for profit. Most recently, I finished this custom baby hat based on the colors of a popular local sporting team that shall remain nameless. Then based off of a post on my mom's board, I got on a crazy kick of making little sock creatures. Here's the first one I tried, and I have a couple more waiting in the wings. They're surprisingly easy and fun to make, even though they do require a bit of hand-stitching. I think I may have to make an army of them to guard the house...or maybe to give as little gifts.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another random Chinese food post

I've been craving home cooking lately, so the other night I decided to make one of my all-time favorites, green onion pancakes. I guess technically, they're not really pancakes, more like flatbread, but that was what my parents always translated them as, so whatevs.

It's a pretty easy recipe. My grandma used to eyeball everything, but my mom managed to get written amounts for me. I'll list the entire ingredient list at the end. In my opinion, you really need a stand mixer to make this. You could do it by hand, but it's much much more tedious. With my KitchenAid mixer, I threw the dough together in about 10 minutes. It needs to rest for about 30, and then there's another 10-15 minutes of prep after that, so you'll want to start a good hour ahead of serving time. Or you could make it earlier in the day and just throw the dough in the fridge till you're ready to cook.

In your bowl, start with 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir in 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of sugar (optional). Add 1 cup of boiling water (I cheated and used very very hot tap water). Mix on low until it starts to come together. Then add another cup of flour. Continue to mix and slowly add 1/2 c. of cold water, stopping when it reaches the right consistency. You want it to be soft, but not sticky. If it's too sticky, you can add a handful or two more flour.
Mix the whole thing on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough has a smooth texture. Roll the dough into a ball, cover, and let rest for at least 30 minutes. While the dough rests, thinly slice 1-2 bunches of green onions. The amount you'll need can vary to taste, but I usually use at least 1 cup, chopped. I use the white and a lot of the green part too.

Back to the dough - divide it into 3 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. You'll want to cover the ones you're not using back up with a towel so they don't dry out. Now roll out one ball as thinly as possible.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil on the dough and spread it around the entire surface. You could use a brush, but I just use my hands. You really want to be generous with the oil.

Lightly sprinkle the surface with salt and then sprinkle on the chopped onions. Again, you can put on more or less to suit your own taste, but I think more is better. You don't want to go overboard though or the dough will be hard to roll out later.

Now start at one side of the dough and roll the entire thing up, kind of like a jellyroll, so that you have a long tube.

Fold the sides in toward the center so that you have more or less a ball-shape. This rolling and folding is what is going to give you nice flaky layers when it's cooked.

Now roll the ball back out again, this time to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

Heat an electric skillet to 375 degrees. You can do this in a pan on the stove too, you'll just have to keep an eye on the heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. You want to have a nice thin layer covering the entire bottom of the pan.

Now add your pancake and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes, until the bottom starts to turn golden brown.

Flip and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until the other side is brown and cooked through.
Here is the finished product, cut into wedges. Some restaurants deep-fry the dough, but I much prefer it cooked this way.

Here's a better look at the layers. Yum.

Most restaurants serve this dish as an appetizer with a soy dipping sauce. Growing up, my family often ate it as an entree with Chinese "red-braised" beef and tendon that's been cut into slices (which I made a few days before so I'll have to go into that dish more another time). I always loved peeling back the top layers of a slice and sandwiching some meat in there. T and I dubbed it the Chinese Gyro, haha!

Here is the entire recipe.

Green Onion Pancakes


3 c. all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 tsp. salt

pinch sugar (optional)

1 c. boiling water

1/2. c. cold water

1 bunch green onions, chopped (about a cup)


sesame oil (1/2-1 cup)

vegetable oil

Add 2 c. flour, 1 c. boiling water, salt, pinch of sugar (optional) to mixer with dough hook. Mix.

Add additional 1 c. flour and mix.

Add approximately ½ c. cold water, until desired consistency. Beat on medium high 5 min.

Let dough rest at least 30 minutes, up to 3 hours.

Knead dough. Divide into 3 and roll each piece into a ball.

Using a rolling pin, roll out ball very thin. Pour a generous amount of sesame oil and spread over entire surface of dough.

Sprinkle chopped green onions and lightly salt.

Roll up dough into long tube and then roll tube back into ball shape.

Roll dough out again into a circle about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat electric skillet to 375 degrees

Add 2 tbsp veg. oil

Place pancake in skillet and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes, until bottom turns mostly golden brown.

Flip and cook 5-8 minutes more.

Remove and cut into slices.

Serve immediately with soy dipping sauce.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I couldn't help myself

OK, I swear, I'm really not normally the type of person who would buy or wear a matching outfit with her daughter...but I couldn't resist the idea of making matching hats. Especially because both E & I needed new hats.

So after I made a cabled hat for myself, I had pretty much exactly enough yarn left in the skein to make a smaller version for E. It was my first time using Lion Brand Wool (I usually buy Patons because it's 1 oz. more for the same price), and it was nice but I really could've used that extra ounce. The hat is just barely long enough for my giant noggin. And E's just fits her too. *sigh* Oh well. I guess we'll wear them for a month or so and then maybe I'll sell them or give them away. I do really like how the cabling turned out though.

Here's a pic I managed to snap of the two of us wearing the hats before E ran away.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I've got baby leg warmers coming out the wazoo. Pictured above are 14 pairs of babylegs. Granted, some of them were ones I made earlier this year, but I also left out 6 new pairs that I sold/gifted. Oh and one Halloween pair that I obviously dropped the ball on. Oops. I really had to force myself to get through these and I'm thinking I may never make them again. Well, except for the two pairs of socks that I specifically bought for E. And maybe if I see some really cute Christmas-y ones. Argh, I suck!

I actually managed to be fairly productive this past weekend though. Besides the babylegs marathon, I also managed to get some knitting done. So I'm slowly but surely making a dent in my huge to-do list.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yeah, I've been lazy

My case of burnout lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. Especially when it comes to sewing. I finally got going on some baby leg warmers this week and realized that it had been a LONG time since I'd sewn anything! I think the last thing I made was that doll for E.

But since cool weather is finally upon us and the holidays are coming up, I really need to get my butt in gear. And what better way to motivate myself than with shame? So here's a list of all my current projects, both partially finished, and things I've promised to people that I haven't even started. I'll try to do this chronologically, but I make no promises. And some of these are probably repeats from a old post on WIPs.

The first thing that jumps to mind is a knitted sleeveless top that I started as a birthday gift for my mom...4 years ago. I honestly don't know what my problem is with this project except that I'm a bit bored by it. It's more than half done, and not a hard project by any means (almost all stockinette), but I haven't touched it in ages.

Bah, screw chronology. I'm just going to go in order of whatever my addled brain comes up with. Right now, more than anything, I need to work on stock for my Etsy store. I need to make more fruit & veggies, as well as some more breakfast sets. I also have been wanting to do some cupcakes and other sweets. I'd also like to work out a few different hat patterns. Oh, and I have a custom hat that I need to get going on too. I had originally planned on making a few hats as gifts, but not so sure I'll get to them in time. I also have been working on felt alphabet letters, but it is slow going. And I was contemplating making some silly stuffed animals too, but it's probably too much.

I have a whole bunch of stuff that I've promised to make for my friend Meighan. There's a couple of bibs from this very cute flannel kitty fabric. Then there's a tank dress from some knit kitty fabric (yes, her daughter likes kitties). A doll similar to the one I made for E. Some baby leg warmers. And probably a few other things that I'm forgetting.

Then there's the giant list of stuff for E, some of which I've stalled so long that there's almost no point in making them anymore. I have some really cute Halloween fabric that I was going to make into a, I guess for next year. Oops. And some other cute fall-ish fabric that I was going to make a pillowcase dress out of, but now I may wait until spring. I keep seeing such cute fabric and patterns, but I've finally come to grips with the fact that I cannot buy anything else until I finish some other stuff first. I know, it sounds pretty common sense to most people, but I have a problem with acquiring things. I've successfully stayed out of the fabric store for almost a month now! Woohoo!

I'm currently in the middle of knitting a matching cable-knit hat for E, to go with the one I made myself. I'm dying to knit a little sweater dress for E too, ever since I saw this adorable cable-knit Ralph Lauren one at Nordstrom Rack when I was in Chicago. And yes, I realize it would be cheaper to buy the dress than to make it, and I would have (even though it was overpriced) but they didn't have her size. So now I'm going to attempt to recreate it. Yes, I'm currently obsessed with cabling.

I'm also way way behind on all of my digital scrapbooking and crap. I had intended on making a book or calendar for the grandparents for Christmas, but not sure how far I'm going to get now. I'm starting to see why those ones you can order at Walgreens or wherever are appealing, even if they are kind of chincy.

On the plus side, I did get a bunch of baby leg warmers done this week, some of which I already mailed off without taking pictures. I should have taken a picture of the mountain of socks I had on my worktable, but again, I forgot.

But I'm going to really start cranking now. For realsies. Stay tuned for pictures of actual finished items!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A little something for myself

It's been a long time since I made something for myself. With the bit of cold weather we had a couple weeks ago, I decided it was time for a new hat. I recently got a new book of stitch patterns, and I've never made a cable-knit hat before, so I figured now was as good a time as any. It was a little tricking doing the reductions at the crown, but I think it turned out pretty cute. I want to make a matching one for E too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I have to confess, I got super lazy this year. Even though I love Halloween and had big plans to paint and/or carve 3-4 pumpkins this year, I didn't end up getting to any of them. Instead, I copped out and bought the very cute Mr. Potato Head pumpkin kit, pictured above, which I sorta love.
I did manage to pull it together enough to make these little pumpkin crayons for a Halloween playdate we went to yesterday though. My original plan was to make these for E's class party, but I just ran out of time. It turned out to be relatively easy though. I broke up some crayons, melted them in a tin can double boiler, and then poured them into a candy mold that I sprayed with a little Pam, just to be safe. I'd say the most time-consuming part was cutting the labels off all the crayons with an razor blade and then breaking them up into small pieces. Oh and having the patience to wait for the crayons to melt completely. I'm very happy with how they turned out though and am definitely going to keep my eyes open for cheap candy molds now. I think these would make great little gifts or favors for a party.

And just for giggles, here's a picture of E in her costume as Rosie the Riveter.

And for reference, the poster

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

10 little pumpkins

I volunteered to supply the craft for E's "fall harvest" party at school tomorrow (they don't celebrate Halloween). It's nothing fancy, just stickers and pumpkin cut-outs. But I couldn't resist getting each kid their own little pumpkin too and decorating them with little sharpie faces. How cute are these?

I think I might have to go out and buy ten more to put on my mantle or something. I love Halloween.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More food

I decided to make a pancake breakfast with sausage this time around, just to change things up a little. I'm realizing that making the exact same things over and over again isn't nearly as much fun as making up something new each time. I think I'm going to have to get over that little mental hurdle though if I plan on selling more stuff for the holidays.

I'm way behind on all my crafty stuff since I've been out of town. I'm going to try to catch up this weekend, so stay tuned. ;)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Even on vacation

I can manage to find time to shop for fabric. Haha!

I'm currently visiting my mom in Chicago (which, combined with T being out-of-town for work last week, is also my excuse for the lack of output lately). I was hoping to get some knitting done while here, but it's looking like it may not happen since E has been quite the handful. But of course, I still managed to find a little time to check out a fabric shop today.

I actually noticed the shop last time I was here, but didn't get a chance to stop in, especially since like most mom-and-pop type places, they have odd/short hours. Anyways, this afternoon I was out with my mom and E had fallen asleep in the car, so I ran in for a quick lookaround. It's actually a quilting shop more than anything, but they did have a lot of really beautiful fabric. Not the cheapest either, but I decided to splurge and buy a few things anyway. I realized I never did try to make a pillowcase dress for E, and even though the season is kind of off, she could probably wear one with a long-sleeve shirt underneath for fall pictures.

I'll post pictures of my finds when I can, although I have to note that I'm having a lot of problems posting to blogger from my mom's computer.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Warming up the babylegs machine...

Now that it's October and Fall is finally upon us here in Texas (that is, if you think of 85 degrees as fall weather), I thought it was time to crank out a new batch of baby leg warmers! Actually, a request from a friend is what got me started thinking about it, so I'll kick it off with a pic of the adorable Halloween legs that I made for baby M.

The only real struggle I'm going to have with this is forcing myself to sell them instead of keeping them all for E. Never mind that she still has the dozen or so pairs that I made her last year, all of which are still perfectly fine. In fact, I can't help but show off the cute outfit she wore some with just yesterday.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The boring stuff

One thing that many people don't realize is that, as simple as some of these things look, a lot of work goes into the finishing of each individual piece. For you non-crafty types, finishing basically refers to weaving in all the loose ends after you're done knitting/crocheting something, sewing/seaming pieces together, adjusting the shaping, and just generally making it look nice and presentable. It's pretty much the least fun part of making anything, especially to me. In fact, for some items, like the sushi set or the bacon pictured below, it takes me longer to do the finishing than it does to make the piece itself. Bleh.

In any case, I thought it might be interesting to show what some of the stuff I make looks like before it's 100% done. Here's the before - a lovely mess of loose ends and whatnot.

And the after, a delicious yarn bacon! Who could resist?

These still need to be blocked a little, but I'll save that boring explanation for another boring post.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How can you resist this face?

Yesterday my friend Chrystyna came over with her adorable daughter Mackenzie, and I couldn't resist putting this pumpkin hat that I had just finished on her. I decided later that afternoon that it needed a little leaf on top, so here are some more shots of the hat with the leaf (but minus the cute baby), now on sale in my Etsy shop. :)


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