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. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More food

One bad thing about making things in sets is that I have to wait until I finish every piece before I can list them in my store. But I finally have a bunch of stuff that's ready to go up, or pretty darn close. First up, is another set of veggies. I replaced the turnip with corn on the cob this time. I'm actually really really proud of the corn because I worked really hard to come up with a pattern that would have the texture of the niblets. I debated whether or not to do the stalks this time, but it didn't seem worth the extra work.

In the future, I may just include both the corn and the turnip, but I really wanted to be able to list some new items today. Also, I don't want to have to raise the price. I made a slight change to the carrot top from last time to make it more leafy.

I'm also very close to being done with a set of fruits. I've been a bit stumped for fruits to make besides the pear and strawberries I already had. I finally settled on an apple and I'm working on a lemon right now. This set should be up in the shop in the next day or two, along with a set of sweets.

I'm thinking that the apple might make a cute teacher's gift come Christmas-time, so I may make some more of those to sell individually. Also, I know there are people out there who like/collect apple stuff. I'm also in the midst of working on some pumpkin hats, since fall is finally upon us. And I'm getting ready to do a big batch of baby leg warmers too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The finished product

I think she turned out pretty cute!

I spent the better part of yesterday evening trying to figure out how to embroider the face on E's doll. I think I did an ok job, considering I've never embroidered anything in my life before. It's definitely way harder than it looks. But I really want to make a few more of these dolls, so I'm sure they'll get better.

ETA: Just wanted to add a shoutout to the Etsy store where I bought the pattern, Bit of Whimsy Dolls!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Busy busy busy

Even though it's been a while since I've posted anything new, don't think I haven't been working on stuff! I recently finished a couple baby hats that are gifts for friends who are expecting little ones soon, and I didn't want to ruin the surprise. I figured what better hat for fall than a little bitty pumpkin hat?! It's been a long time since I made any tiny newborn hats. Ah, I can feel the baby lust taking hold.

This is actually the second hat I made. I forgot to take pictures of the first one, but hopefully I'll have pics of the hat ON a baby soon!

And even though I really should be working on stocking my Etsy store, I've been doing more personal sewing lately. In fact, just tonight I made this little doll for E. I still need to embroider her face on (which should be interesting since I've never embroidered anything in my life!), but you get the general idea. I think for a first effort, she turned out pretty darn cute!

Here's another shot where, if you look close, you can sorta see where I penciled in her face:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First day of "school"

Today was E's first day at "school." I put school in quotes because, honestly, it's not really school. It's more like a cross between pre-school and part-time daycare, referred to down here as "Mother's Day Out" or MDO for short, and it's only once a week.

She does go for long enough that I need to pack her a lunch though, so I was excited to have an excuse to use some of the bento supplies I'd been hoarding and even bought some new stuff. Here is a pic of the lunch I packed her today:

She ate roughly half the string cheese, half of one sandwich, most the raisins, and I don't think she touched the peas, except to move them around, but I can't complain since they were cold. Oh and both T & I hate peas, so it's kind of weird to us that she likes them at all, but it's one of the few green vegetables she'll eat.

I also quickly sewed together a little tote bag for her stuff since they have to have diapers, change of clothes, etc. I didn't want to buy the boring old plain one the school had for $5, and a friend is actually making a much nicer one, so this is kind of a lame proxy till she finishes it. It's actually the leftover piece from when I cut and hemmed the curtain in E's room, but the fabric is pretty cute. I actually have a whole other panel that I'll probably do something with one of these days. This is one of the few times I've been able to make something start to finish out of things I already have on hand! Woohoo!

Here's the front:

And back:

I also was going to make E a little lunchbag to go with her bento lunch, but I just ran out of time. I was sitting here at 11pm last night, trying to figure out/modify a couple different patterns and realized that it just wasn't worth staying up all night to make a lunchbag that I probably wouldn't even be happy with. So for now, I'm using the Hello Kitty bag that I got at the Target Dollar Spot. It seemed to work out just fine.

I think I ruined it.


This weekend, I finally finished knitting the bag I started like, 6 months ago. I really like how the rectangle pattern turned out! But I debated with myself for a long time about whether I wanted to felt it or not, and in the end decided to go for it since otherwise it'd be pretty floppy.

Well, I felted it in my standard way - threw it inside a zipped pillowcase and washed it in the machine on hot with a couple pairs of T's jeans. And well...it didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped. I think the black yarn bled quite a bit into the white, and because of all the stranding in the back, the shape is pretty out of whack. I did my best to kind of stretch it back to square, but as you can see, it's still kind of wonky-looking.



My friend Mee pointed out that you can still see the stitches, so she thinks it's not felted enough. So I may give it another whirl, even though it will probably get a lot smaller, to the point where I'm not sure how usable it'll be. Oh well. I'll update after I try again.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The nap mat saga continues...

Well, I tried to sell off E's nap mat thinking that I'd make a new one, but that sorta fell through. Plus, I got all lazy and unmotivated to make a brand new one this past weekend, so instead, I decided to just make some adjustments so I could still use the old one. Pretty simple, really. I bought some quilt batting from Joann's, doubled it up and stuffed it inside. Then I put the pillow insert in and sewed a line straight across to keep it from falling out. Sewed a few diagonal lines to keep the batting from moving around too much, and voila! New and improved nap mat!

If I weren't so lazy, I would have ripped the velcro off and sewn the whole thing shut since it keeps sticking to the batting. I may get to that eventually, but not before school starts tomorrow.

I also added a little carrying handle out of the nylon webbing that I was originally going to use as a strap/buckle to keep it closed, but then discovered I couldn't since it was a strangulation hazard. The strap is kind of useless right now though since I don't have a way to hold the whole thing closed. Again, I'm shooting to have it all finished up by next week.
Right now, I'm scurrying to throw together a tote bag and lunch bag, and I've also got to stick name labels on just about everything. It's going to be a late night!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I feel special

My crochet "sushi dinner" set just got chosen to be a part of someone's Etsy Treasury list! Check it out here.

I know it's been a while since I've added any new stuff to my store, but believe me, I'm working on it! I'm still trying to catch up with life in general after our last-minute trip out of town last weekend, but I have a few new knit hats in the works and should have them up in the next week or so.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hooray for rice!!

Woohoo! I finally got a new rice cooker from my brother this week! And to celebrate, I decided to make one of T's favorite meals: Stir-fried Celery Pork, or as he likes to refer to it, "CelPo" - yes, insert eye-rolling here.

A little backstory: I think my mom made this dish at least once a week when I was a kid, to the point where I got really really sick of it and never wanted to eat it again. Of course, after I grew up and moved out on my own, I totally forgot about it until a few years ago when T & I were visiting my mom and she made this. He freaked out over how good it was, so I started making it at home, and now it's part of our regular rotation.

This is actually super duper easy to make and you can make a million variations of it to suit your own personal tastes. You could easily use chicken instead of pork. A friend of mine adds ginger and fresh garlic. My mom always used to put sliced carrots in hers. I added sliced onions this time, which I didn't used to throw in there, but I like the flavor it adds.

OK, so to start you need some pork. I usually use about 1 1/2 lbs. pork loin or loin chops. This time I had a bunch of pork "brisket" pieces that we got from Costco and needed to be cooked up, so I used that instead. Whatever cut you use, you want something that's going to be fairly tender since it's not going to be cooked for a long time. So take your pork and cut it into bite size chunks.

Put your cut up pork in a bowl and add soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and some cornstarch; mix it all up, preferably by hand. Now I usually eyeball it, but since I knew I was going to post it, I tried to measure out the amounts. I used roughly 1/8 cup of soy sauce and about 2 heaping teaspoons of corn starch. Basically, you want enough soy to coat everything without being soupy at the bottom, and not so much corn starch that the mixture seems dry. You could also use onion powder instead of or in addition to the garlic powder. This is pretty much the standard "marinade" my mom and I use for meat all our stir-frys.

Next cut an onion in half along the stem and then slice into thin half-rings. I usually use half a medium to large onion, but I had a lot of meat this time, so I used the whole thing. Again, this is optional and you can adjust the amount to taste.

Chop up an entire head of celery - I think it comes out to around 3-4 cups?

Heat a large skillet or wok on high - you want it very VERY hot, almost smoking. Then add a couple tablespoons of oil (I used canola) and add the meat. You want to get a nice brown sear on all sides of the meat, sorta like this.

Then I add my secret ingredient. It's a dark mushroom soy sauce, which can be found at most Asian grocery stores. The dark color gives everything a richer flavor and color. Even if you don't like mushrooms, don't worry because it doesn't actually taste like mushrooms, at least not to me. And my mushroom-hating husband has never really noticed it either.

If you can't find it, no worries, just add a few tablespoons of regular soy sauce. Then add your onions, and let those cook for a few minutes.

Now add the celery, give everything a good stir and then cover and let it cook for 5-6 minutes.

You want to the celery to be tender, but still have a bit of bite to it. This is more or less what it will look like. The best part? It makes its own sauce! Yum!

The amount of sauce you'll get depends on what veggies you have in there, but I find I get more sauce when I use onions. And now a shot of the first batch from my glorious new rice cooker.

T was so excited for this meal, he did a little "CelPo dance."

I serve this in a shallow bowl directly on top of the rice, usually with an extra spoonful or two of the sauce, and then just mix everything together and eat. Both T and I sorta made pigs of ourselves last night (no pun intended). I'm so glad to have a rice cooker back in the house. I feel like all is right in the world again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Well, poo!

I just found out that E can't use the nap mat I made her. Or more specifically, the nap mat cover I made. Apparently, the vinyl portion of the insert has to be what touches the ground, and any kind of sleep sack or whatever is supposed to be on top of the vinyl.

So now I have to make a new one. Grr. And no, I'm not going to just re-engineer the one I already have since it would probably be just as much work as making a new one. I'm so pissed right now.

Anyone want to buy the old one?


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