Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Beat Down and Mushroom Scarf Progress

Is this holiday season kicking anyone else's butt? Because I lost another week and have no idea where it went. At least I'm not alone. It's been crazy for just about everyone, I think. 'Tis the season, right?

I'm wrapping up all sorts of projects, but since the projects I'm working on right now are gifts and I'm pretty sure that some of the recipients read this blog, I can't share any pictures. Lame. But, with that said, don't leave just yet, friends!

You see, I have a sanity project* that I'm working on for myself that is coming to a close, so this isn't going to be a completely picture-less post! The project is full of mushroomy goodness and it's definitely one of my favorite projects so far. Hopefully you like it, too.

The mushroom scarf! 

Here it is (with a nice helping of me trying my hand at a teaser picture for my Twitter feed):
Sidenote: The picture seems kind of run-of-the mill as WIP teasers go, though. Going to have to work on that!

The mushrooms are all made and put together. Now it's time for the spots. I'm aiming for a double sided scarf so I'm doing a lot of sewing between the stitches right now. The method is great for hiding stitches, but not so good if you're in a hurry. And since this is a sanity project instead of a working project, it's not a priority right now. Even if I'm super excited to see the finished project, there are holiday gifts and other things that need doing now!!

Update: Here's a better picture

I got the idea for this scarf from TwinkieChan. She crochets all sorts of food related things and is well-known for her cupcake scarfs. They are totally cute but I'm not a cupcake kind of person, so I made one that's more my style. With that said, I think my favorite scarf that I've seen from her is the pepperoni pizza slice. Talk about super creative!! If you have a chance, I recommend that you check out her blog and shop for all sorts of cool food related stuff. And (as though that isn't enough!), if you're up to making some of her food themed ideas, she has a book of patterns out, too! I'm hoping that Santa brings me a copy!! *hint, hint, Santa*

What have you all been making in your free time?

*Sanity project: A mini-project (or not) to work on when the main project is pissing you off or otherwise bores/annoys you. Usually for fun, silliness, and yourself. 

I use these projects as a release for when I'm feeling burned out on a project or crocheting in general.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Things that start with the letter P

The theme of today's blog is: Things That Start With the Letter P

And I haven't even been watching a lot of Sesame Street lately. :) Just a strange theme of my life lately.

Let's begin...

The boy is rough on his clothes. He's 2 years old and wears holes in the knees of his jeans like they're made of paper. The jeans are perfectly good otherwise, so I wasn't willing to throw them away. Not with a perfectly good stash of fabric to use for patches!

So, Bubba and I raided the fabric stash and he came out with a totally awesome new look for his previously holey jeaned self:

And I came out with 4 hours less of my life (who knew patches took so long to sew on pants!?!) and a couple of holes in my fingers. But he loves them so I think it's totally worth it.

Mushroom shaped candy. Apparently they're even sort of good for you what with being made with natural ingredients and 25% real fruit juice and all...

Why have I not heard of these before!?! These bad boys are right up my alley. My dentist will be rich!

Purse Pick-Me-Up
My sister gave me a lovely purse for my birthday. She's the purse queen and takes her purses very seriously. So imagine her heartbreak when she realized the zipper on it was off center after I had torn open the wrapping paper on the big day.

I, on the other hand, was perfectly happy. It was a sweet gesture and I had a fabulous idea to make the purse look like there was no defect at all. My sister was skeptical, but she has faith in my crafty abilities.

Here's what I came up with:

I'm working on a small mushroom and some flowers, too. That way I can switch them out when I feel like something a little bit different. Thanks, sis!

So those are a few projects that I've made in my free time lately. What have you all been up to?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I'm making ninja heads like a crazy person. For fun, I made this Christmas version.

What are you making in your free time?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brr...Scarf weather and how to make a crochet pattern map

For those of you that don't know me personally:

I live in Alaska.

Have you ever been to Alaska? You really should visit.

In the summer.

Don't come now. You'll freeze before you even step off of the plane.

As I type this, the temperature is sitting at a nice cozy -27 degrees F. That's -33 degrees C, in case you were wondering and didn't want to do math.

It is this time of year that I wonder to myself, "WHY?"

But the silver lining to this frozen ice cloud is that this just lasts for a few weeks at a time. And if you really want to put things in perspective, we haven't even hit our cold snap yet. That comes in the end of January.

Seems kind of needless to say this now, but I will any way:

This is perfect scarf weather.

Well, as long as the scarf isn't the only thing you're wearing, that is.

Here's my scarf:

It's a prototype of one of my many ninja related ideas. I call it a prototype because I always make up a project like this and then fiddle with it until I like the end result.

My method for mapping out a pattern just takes an idea, some graph paper (or blank paper and a ruler), and a pen or pencil.

For instance, take my scarf. I made the ninja heads first and then made the rest. My stitch pattern map for the ninja heads looks like this:

Except I did mine by hand so it's a lot messier! I also used a different count--the numbers are there for show and not function. This pattern map would make a very small ninja.

I used a simple single crochet stitch and took it row by row working the ends in as I went. Remember, your pattern map is written in pen or pencil--not stone. You can change it up as you go based on how the piece is taking shape. 

Once the whole thing was done, I single crocheted around the outside to give the piece a clean, round look. And since I worked the ends into the back of the piece, it made the scarf single sided.

Okay, I had no idea what a pain in the ass a single sided scarf can be until I wore this one around for a little while. I am constantly turning the faces so they are right side out. I'd much rather make the pattern double sided to avoid that altogether! My solutions so far have left tons of loose ends to work in later on, so I'm still in the figure it out stage of things with the pattern.

Happy pattern mapping!!

Stop back by and share what you've made in your free time. I'd love to see!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is there a little ninja in ya?

Yesterday, I sold some ninja heads.

It felt pretty good.

I think I want to do it again. So I'm making more.

I'm working on starting up an etsy shop. More to come when I have that information.

I have some folks who have already put in requests for ninjas, so those guys come first. After that, I'm going to just keep crocheting (crocheting, crocheting, just keep crocheting) and crank out some heads for the shop. 

Soon, there will be ninja heads for all!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What are you so scared of? It's just bread.

While I was gone from the blog, my family instituted a new bi-weekly tradition: bread baking.

We go through bread at my house like nobody's business. Blame it on all the sandwiches (I do love me a good sandwich and it appears to run in the family). We buzz through the bread like beavers do trees. So when I was buying 3 loaves every 10 days for the four of us, I realized that it was time to bake my own. I mean, it's not like the bread's going to go bad. We eat enough of it.

Lucky for me, I understand the general principles of bread baking. Yeast, food for the yeast, flour, some other stuff, rise, knead, rise, bake, cool. Not that tough, right? I'm no stranger to bread baking after all.

I grew up baking bread with my grandparents. Once a month they would spend the morning making up a huge batch of dough and then spend the rest of the day making loaves, buns, and a ton of other forms of bread related goodness. I have great memories of that time.

So why have I not done this sooner!?!

Intimidation, friends.


It seemed like a ton of work and time that I didn't think that I had to spare. Plus, I wasn't the one putting the yeast and food for the yeast and other such ingredients together when baking with my grandparents. What if I baked a hideous beast of a loaf? What if my family was so disgusted by this carbohydrated disaster that they refused to eat anything I cooked again!?! Oh, the humanity!!

Then I realized two things:
1) Basic bread is not that hard to make.
2) Who cares if the loaf is gross? I'll just tweak the recipe (or my methods depending on the problem) and try again. My family is forgiving and forgetful. They will eat my food again.

Perfectionism. It's an evil, motherless beast.

Don't listen because it's not true.

Anyhow, so all of this to tell you that I'm going to share my recipe for super easy wheat bread with you today.

It has proven itself worthy of sharing with the masses--at least I haven't had any disasters with it yet. :)

I acquired this recipe from and used all but one of the tips from the comments section.

And this is what I have created using it:

Beautiful, delicious loaves of bread

And now for your baking pleasure, here is the easiest freaking wheat bread recipe of all time. I have added some tips that I learned along the way to hopefully help you out a little bit in your baking adventures. If you go to the original recipe, you'll see that I've incorporated a lot from the comments section and of course added my own flare to the text. A girl's got to get creative where she can, you know? :) Here you go!

Easy Wheat Bread
Adapted from
  • 3 cups warm water (no warmer than 110 degrees F)
  • 2 (1/4 oz) packets active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 cups white bread flour
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 3 1/2 - 5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
Equipment Needed: Electric mixer with a big bowl

  1. Combine warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey in the bowl of your electric mixer. I usually heat up the water in the microwave 1 cup at a time and use an electric thermometer to test the temperature. That seems to give me a little bit more control. If my last cup of water is a little too hot (which happens most of the time) then I dump the honey into the water. This cools the water and makes the honey thinner and easier to get out of the measuring cup. Add 5 cups bread flour and stir with wooden/plastic spoon to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes or at least until it has doubled in size and is big and bubbly.
  2. Using your mixing spoon, make a hole in the middle of the big bubbly dough concoction. This will make room for the 3 Tbsp butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt that you are going to mix in next. Add the ingredients, attach the dough hook to your mixer, and mix away at speed 2. When the new ingredients are combined, stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. To minimize the flour cloud, I usually do this 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until not really sticky--just pulling away from the sides of the bowl but still sticky to the touch. This may take an additional 2-4 cups of whole wheat flour to accomplish. It usually only takes me 2 cups to get there, but one time it took almost 3. It just depends on the flour you are using.
  3. Once the dough ball has formed, leave the mixer going on speed 2 and all it to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes or until it is smooth. Dust your counter with a little bit of whole wheat flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead by hand for an additional 1-2 minutes. I suppose this step could be optional, but I think the texture of the bread is better when you include this step.
  4. Grease a gigantic bowl. Make sure to grease the whole bowl and all the way up the sides. Shape your dough into a ball and place in the greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a greased cotton towel and let rise in a slightly-warmer-than-room-temperature place until it has doubled in size. This takes approximately 2 hours. Covering and greasing the dough keeps the crusties off of your dough while it's rising--totally worth it. And if you don't have a naturally occurring slightly-warmer-than-room-temperature place in your house, just turn on the light in your oven because it omits just enough heat to make it the perfect temperature.
  5. Even though it rose too high, it turned out just as delicious so don't worry if yours rises too long, too.
  6. Punch down dough and divide into 2 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch pans (or 4 mini loaf pans, or whatever you are using) and allow to rise until the dough has topped the pans by 1 inch.
  7. Bake in an oven that was preheated to 350 degrees (F) for 23-30 minutes. Do not over bake. The bread is done when you knock on it and it sounds hollow and/or a thermometer that is inserted in the middle reads 180-200 degrees (F). I just use the knocking method. Works every time.
  8. When done, remove the loaves from the pans immediately to prevent the bottoms from getting moldy and cool on a wire rack. Brush with the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter to prevent the crust from getting hard. Cool completely before storing.

To store the bread, I wrap it in plastic wrap and then put it in a plastic sealable bag (or 2 if the loaf is too big to fit in 1 bag). The longest that the loaves have lasted is 10 days at my house, but in that time ours have never gotten moldy. I've frozen a loaf, thawed it out, and we've eaten on it for a week with no mold in sight. Test it out. Let me know if yours molds on you and in what conditions and I'll do the same.

WARNING: You're going to start looking for all sorts of ways to eat this bread. It's that good.

Also, this bread makes picture perfect grilled cheese sandwiches. See?

 Now that I've shared what I made in my free time, I'd love to see what you have been up to. Any projects to share? :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

And out of the shadows comes...

Me!! :)

Hello! It's been so long and I've missed you!! Thank you for waiting around for me to get back.

The last months have been C-R-A-Z-Y! As I mentioned in the last post, we had two family members who were injured in the course of about 1-2 weeks. There were added duties and emergency road trips to be had. One is well again and the other has a very long road to recovery (LOVE YOU). And, in the interest of maintaining their privacy, I'm not going to go into what happened exactly. Bad stuff occurred. Now they're working to get well again. And we love them. And miss them. And stuff.

Any how, I'm glad to be back, that's for sure!

I thought the day after Halloween would be a fabulous time to return to blogging. You know, that way I could show off these babies:

Asajj Ventress

Anakin Skywalker

That's right, I made costumes this year. Star Wars Clone Wars costumes, to be exact. It was a lot of fun even if it was one more project (or three) that was keeping me away from here. And I've noticed that the more sewing knowledge I gain, the less sewing disasters I seem to have. And less disasters means it takes less time to get projects completed. Go figure. :)

(Plus, believe it or not, they don't sell Ventress costumes for kids. At least none that I could find. So there weren't a lot of options there. )

Making the Ventress costume gave me the opportunity to practice freezer paper stenciling technique again. Although, I'd like to say that I found out that freezer paper generally doesn't stick well to felt. Lucky for me, I had my face 10 centimeters away from what I was doing and noticed the freezer paper not doing it's job (yer fired, freezer paper) before I smeared paint on parts of the fabric that I didn't want it.

Also, french seams are freaking amazing and surprisingly easy. Learned that tidbit sewing the Anakin costume. :)

Julie 1 - Crafting Disaster Fairy 0

It was a good (holi)day.

So, what were you guys for Halloween? I'm excited to find out. Here is my costume:

While I made this one, I totally got the idea from Polkadot Robot. I had fully intended on buying one from them rather than making one myself, but I spent too much time deciding on a costume which didn't leave enough time for shipping to Alaska. You should totally stop by and check out their hoodies, though. They have some really cute characters to choose from.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Life happens

My family is going through some serious things right now. There have been two serious accidents in the past 2 weeks involving different members of our family. Between the already hectic schedule we had going and these new life developments (don't worry--my kids, husband, and I are fine) I just can't get on much and post.

Because sometimes life happens.

This is one of those times.

I'll be back as soon as I can, my dears.

Keep on crafting and if you have a free moment, think some good thoughts for my family please.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


With the busy, I missed that on Tuesday my You've Got Mail! journal cover tutorial was linked to over at the 3 f's blog!

Here is Ajjah's blog badge:


Isn't it adorable!?!
I totally need to get one together for this blog, too.

Her blog is just as adorable as the badge, too. I'm definitely going to have to head back to read more later.

A big thank you to Ajjah for linking up to my post.

Now head on over and show 3 f's some love!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spontaneous crafting

My husband replaced a part of the sound system in our living room the other day. After he was done, my son found about 10 inches of speaker wire laying on the floor where he had been working.

Rather than throw the plastic coated wire away and grumble about how it got left behind in the first place, I had a bright idea.

Why not bend it up into the shape of a mushroom?

Three minutes after I had this bright idea, I was pinching the bottom of a four inch mushroom shape closed. But why stop there, really?

We happen to have a bunch of different colors of electrical tape just begging to be used for a project like this.

So, I grabbed the tape and wrapped up the mushroom shape to get this:

Ten minutes of spontaneous crafting and I've got a cute little wall hanging.

(And, for those of you keeping track, I just saved 6 inches of wire from going to the dump. Eco-friendly craftiness, anyone?)

Keep in mind that while the tape makes the wire shape a little bit more sturdy than bare wire, this shape isn't indestructible. In fact, it is quite destructible. So if you make one too, then you may want to use it as a decoration.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wreck This Weekend: Post Five

Another weekend is here to wreck. Welcome back!

The Wreck This Weekend Mini Series has been a great motivator to getting pages in my journal done. I'm really glad it's a weekly feature for the blog.

Here are the pages I've been working on:

August 1st
Kid friendly batiking prepared me for this page.

August 2nd
The black paint is me trying to do something a little differently. I'm still not sure if this different is good or not...

August 3rd
Dirt is awesome.

August 4th
I used a bunch of different coins and two necklaces for this page. One of the coins is a Latvian 1 lats coin with a mushroom on it. Can you find the coin?

While you're looking, try to find the smooshed penny with Spongebob and Patrick on it, too. It's like Where's Waldo, you know, except with pencil rubbings and not some happy little guy in a stocking cap.

August 5th
This one is a work in progress. 

Finding stains is hard work when you're actually looking for them. Maybe I should try not to stain the page. Then I'd be sure to find some stains for it. Either that or I could give it to a pregnant woman to wear as a bib. There's nothing messier than a preggo eating a meal. At least that's the way it was for this preggo anyway.

Because I feel bad for having a half finished page for this day, I'm adding another half finished page. I have been slowly accumulating stickers for this one. I'd have to be crazy hungry to eat enough fruit to fill this page with stickers in one day so it's going to be a work in progress for a little while.

August 6th
Something about pushing really hard on a page while drawing is cathartic for me. I'm not sure why this is, but it is.

August 7th
Any excuse to cover my hands in paint. This one was fun. I got to mix up some paint for it, too. :)

(Sorry for the picture quality from August 2nd on. I had to use my back-up camera and it's not as good as the Canon Rebel is.)

What did you do this weekend? Been wrecking anything? :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's Your Creative Style?

As you know from my Blogtastical Goodness page, I read the How About Orange blog pretty regularly. It's a fabulous blog with posts that usually contain something that you can take away into your own creative life. Font types, projects, labels, tutorials, or even quizzes like the one I'm going to share with you from Psychologies magazine. (Plus, the blog celebrates the color orange. I support supporters of orange.)

Because I took it.

And it seems to be pretty accurate.

I mean, the title for my results is: Creativity enriches you

Yep. That sounds about right. 

Here is some more of what the What's Your Creative Style? quiz had to say about my creative style:

Creativity is separate from the real world for you. But it’s a magical world in which you like to immerse yourself. When you’re involved in it, you get the wonderful sensation that there are no limits, that anything is possible...

Mushrooms and ninjas, anyone? Maybe we could throw in a little "Fa la la" there to represent the third sentence, too. I think this explains my obsession with them a little bit, though.

You know, mushrooms that are commonly used in scenes depicting magical worlds and ninjas that are just generally fabulous and also magical.

Did you rush off and take the test? What was your result?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend of Fun

I didn't Wreck This Weekend. Next week, my pretties. This weekend I took the kids to the State fair instead.

This was the boy's first year riding rides and playing games like the big kids. So that's just what we did.

And we saw mushrooms...

This would be the fun house. I know, I know. This picture makes it look like the happiest prehistoric jail on Earth. Alas, it's just a fun house.*

...and fellow ninja supporters.

You can't help but to admire this person's commitment to their support of ninjas.

It was a good time. :)

What did you do this weekend?

* Never thought that I would EVER write those words in a sentence ever. "Alas, it's just a fun house." It just doesn't seem like those are words that should go together...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wreck This Weekend: Post Four

My apologies for being away this past week. My husband tore his meniscus and had knee surgery last Tuesday so I've been a bit busier than usual. I've missed you so...

* * * * * * * *

I'm very proud to show you these journal entries for this week's installment of the Wreck This Weekend Mini Series.

There is one page in particular that I'm quite smitten with. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least--but I don't want to spoil the surprise so I'll let you read on for that one. Even the simple pages ended up giving me satisfaction when they were complete. I'm not sure why this surprises me, but it does. I did not give some of these projects the credit that they were due creativity wise. Just because it's something you used to do in elementary school doesn't mean it's silly or simple. Sometimes quite the contrary.

Also, if you haven't tried art journaling before, I fully recommend it. It's very theraputic. I love my Wreck This Journal because it gives me prompts for projects. That's a big part of my problem at times...I don't know where to begin. Once those creative juices are flowing, I'm good. It's just that sometimes I'm a slow starter. Anyone else have that problem?

Alright, that's enough jibber jabbering. It's time to Wreck This Weekend!

July 25th
It's surprising exactly how easy it is to find four letter words. For instance, there were 3 four letter words in that last sentence. There are the four letter words that you can say on TV and then there are the ones that you can't. I couldn't resist the urge to paint one word in particular using bright orange paint before covering it with other four letter words. I mean, do what makes you happy, right?

July 26th
My son was kind enough to lend me his nerf gun and some darts...although I'll have to replace the darts. They became casualties of the craftiness...

So, I missed on purpose a couple of times because the bottom of the page looked a little too white. Believe me, it looks WAY better with the intentional misses.

My painted fingers

July 27th
I didn't have a whole lot of time on the 27th. Good thing there are quicky pages in the book like this one.

July 28th
I love this page. Love it, love it, love it. Did I mention this is my favorite page? :)

And the best part is that this page happened completely by accident. I dripped a bunch of spots of paint onto the page, closed it, and when I opened it this is what I found. I was not going for butterfly, believe it or not. I really did just randomly drip a bunch of paint all over the page. Yeah. I'm as surprised as you are. Probably more.

July 29th
After a lame attempt at drawing a bed on the bottom of this page, I found an old Dr. Seuss book that the kids have a double of and cut out a page with some sleeping turtles on it to glue over the lameness. I like how it turned out.

July 30th
The funnel totally leaked out the bottom. Good thing I drank water out of it and not cranberry juice as I had originally intended...

Ahahahahahaha! I lifted my pinky while I was drinking! I didn't notice that until posting these pictures. How proper of me. Perhaps I should make up some tea.

July 31st
That was a lot of work for such a mild result! But, on the bright side, at least I burned a few calories that day.

There is still plenty of journal left so come back next weekend for another Wreck This Weekend Mini Series post!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wreck This Weekend: Post Three

More Wreck This Weekend Mini Series you say?

You're right. I agree.

I think this weekend could use some wrecking. So let's do this.

July 18th
This one made my mouth tired. If you try this, hold the pens/markers in your teeth. Way easier than using just your lips.

July 19th
Writing the same word over and over again is amazingly therapeutic

July 20th
Things found around my house

July 21st
Another exercise in which I learn what a journal tastes like...

July 22nd
My first urge was to just scribble all over the whole page, but then this occurred to me. I think I like this better than scribbles.

July 23rd
I'm so happy I managed to get my favorite color a page to itself. :)

July 24th
Office supplies really can be artistic!! I was doubtful at first.

Hidden secret messages and ninjas seem to go together. Plus, I like ninjas.

The hidden message, unhidden.

And those are my wrecked pages from week three with this journal. What have you been wrecking this weekend? Journaling? Crafting?