Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo recap

Earlier this month I mentioned joining NaBloPoMo, where the goal is to blog everyday. I didn't quite make it but I definitely increased my blogging frequency. I posted a total of 22 times this month. That's much higher than any other month (July was my highest before, with 15 posts).

Here's the funny thing - I'm not sure I'll try it again. I felt like there were some days that I posted just to post, not because I really had anything to say. It did allow me to find new topic ideas that I might have passed on before though. So I definitely gained from this experience.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not done yet

So after staring at my "completed" lady bug for the last six weeks I decided to add a face and antennae after all. I am so glad I did! The ladybug looks much better. The antennae are based on the giraffe pattern from Itty Bitty Toys - the same source I used for the spots previously. (at some point I should just make the giraffe since I've tried so many components of it already). The eyes are felt. E gave me a fabulous suggestion of using quarters to trace around on the white felt and dimes for the black felt components.

Can't wait to give this to my niece!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm Blessed

It's time for the weekly blessing party! This week I have been blessed with time with my family. As I mentioned in a previous post, E and I spent time with both of our families on Thursday. It was so wonderful to be together! I think sometimes I take for granted that both of our families live up the road from us. So many people have to travel to see their families or are not able to visit, but for us it's so easy.

I've also been blessed with great in-laws. C was planning on spending the night at his cousin's house on Thanksgiving. When he changed his mind, my SIL offered to drive him home plus invited me to come Black Friday shopping with her and my MIL while E stayed with the boys. Unfortunately I couldn't but I was touched to be included.

Check out the Blessing party at He Sows and She Sews!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Planning for Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I feel like things are just rolling right into the Christmas season. I am going to a cookie exchange next Saturday so I started working my cookies today. I'm making chocolate cookies for the base and varying it up a little by adding butterscotch chips to one batch, peanut butter chips to another and white chocolate chips to the third. I baked them today to freeze for next weekend. I also have to bring a dish for lunch so I'm making a peanut butter cheese ball with graham crackers (I'll post about it when I complete it.) 

The other big project was to decorate for Christmas. We got the tree put together today with the boys' "help". I love how it looks - so festive!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this week. We were able to spend time with my family and E's family. I absolutely love Thanksgiving - it may be my favorite holiday! When I was a teenager I used to go over to my grandma's early, before the rest of the family, and help her cook. It was sort of a joke with my family because I had a reputation for being able to burn water but under her supervision everything turned out wonderful.

Eventually I was put in charge of the mashed potatoes. We used to do boxed but about 10 or 12 years ago grandma and I switched to real potatoes. Now we do Thanksgiving at my mom's but I still bring the potatoes. 
My potatoes are super simple to make:
~8 lbs of potatoes (I had two 5 lb bags but didn't use all of the second bag)
2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cup of butter
Pinch of salt

Boil the potatoes until they are very well cooked. Drain and dump in a bowl. Add the milk, butter and salt. Blend with a mixer until mixed and the lumps are gone. More milk can be added for a thinner potato.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monster Mash

I finished the monster that I'm making my nephew for Christmas. 

My BIL is a huge Chivas (soccer) fan so I thought it would be fun to make him in the team's colors - I really like how the colors complement each other. I had a lot of fun making this little guy! The instructions were really easy to follow and I can't wait to make more (C is already asking for one of his own!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Blessed

I'm counting my blessings again today with Gretchen at He Sows and She Sews. I continue to count C and J as two of the biggest blessings in my life. They melt my heart with the sweet things they say and do (don't get me wrong though - there are many times when they act like typical two and four year olds). Tonight C told me that he will love his brother forever. I loved hearing that; some days the sibling rivalry between them is so intense I wonder if they even like each other, so it's wonderful to hear that they do!

They can also be very amusing. This is how I caught J at one point this evening:

He had plopped himself down in front of his bookshelf to "read"

And this is what C was up to:
He was taking his babies for a ride in the wagon. They are such fun little boys!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Change of Plans

I've been thinking about the baby blanket I'm knitting and I think I'm going to have to change things up a bit. I don't think it is going to match the decor my friend is going with. So instead I'm going to pull another almost finished blanket out of hibernation that will match the decor much better. Is that wrong? It seems like I should give the baby the blanket I've intended originally, yet on the other hand, the hibernating blanket may be the right one. Plus I can use the blue blanket for my sister's baby boy (I haven't even cast on the one I originally intended for him and he's due at the beginning of January.) Hmmmm what to do?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Project updates

I've made some noticeable progress on some of my projects. First up is the monster. The monster is nearly done now - I have knitted up all of the pieces except for the ears. I also did some seaming today to break things up a little.

I actually took this picture before I attached one arm (the other is still unattached).

Project number two is the baby blanket. I've done over 250 rows and now have about 20% to go. My friend had a girl so my plan is to thread some pink ribbon through the border and attach a few knitted flowers.

The last project is the one for me - my vanilla extract. I still need to wait until at least the end of the year to use it but it's getting a little darker. It's sort of an amber color. The process is very low maintenance; over the last week I've shaken it twice and that's it. Can't wait until it's ready!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Feast

Today C's preschool class had their family feast. They invite the families to come and enjoy chapel and then lunch. It was a lot of fun. They had a chalk artist who drew a beautiful picture while telling a story. We also sang songs led by an another class. Then we were able to grab some turkey dinner. It was so much fun to hang out with C!

Monday, November 14, 2011


9,450 - if my math is correct that's how many stitches are left in the baby blanket. It seems like a lot but it's only 25% of the total in the blanket. It's going much smoother now. Seems like whatever was causing me tension is going a little better. The yarn slides a bit easier over the needles now. I have until early January (I think) so I should make it in time - without flinging it across the room as I threatened previously...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vanilla Extract

I made my vanilla extract today. The recipe is so simple - the only two ingredients are vanilla beans and vodka. (Any alcohol can be used but vodka has the cleanest flavor.) I had a hard time finding my beans so I ended up ordering some on Amazon.

I had five beans for a cup of vodka, which I think is a good amount based on what I've seen listed around the web. I split each bean in half lengthwise and scraped out the seeds.

Here's the all of the beans after they were split and scraped.

I cut the pods into pieces and placed the seeds and pods into the vodka and gave it a shake. It needs to be shaken once a week and should be ready in about 8 weeks, although it can take up to six months to really get the flavor of vanilla extract.

I also set aside one pod to add to a cup of sugar so I could have vanilla sugar as well. Can't wait to try that in my baking too!

(linked up with

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vanilla Beans

I'm so excited - I ordered some vanilla beans to make vanilla extract and they came today! Unfortunately I got home too late to do anything with them tonight but come this weekend I'll get my chance. It's supposed to be really simple. I need to add a few beans to a cup of vodka and let it sit; it needs to be shaken once a week. It's ready after 8 weeks or so. I'll post the results when I'm done!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Three needle bind off

I finally finished the body of the monster today! To do so I needed to use a three needle bind off, which I had never done before. I could have kitchnered it but:
A) I thought it would be good to learn another skill
B) it's for the inside of a toy so it doesn't matter how it is done as much.

This is a ridiculously easy process to learn. It's almost the same as a standard bind off with just a little twist - the stitches are pulled off two needles at the same time.

Isn't it cute so far ;) Now all I have to do are the arms, feet and legs!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I think I may have to throw the baby blanket i am knitting across the room. I am beginning to understand what other knitters are talking about when they say a yarn squeaks. Somehow I have gotten my knitting so tight that it squeaks and it takes brute force to slide it across the needles. I've got to change something or the last 145 rows (gulp!) are going to be painful!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Blessed

One of the biggest blessings in my life has been my mom. She has always been there for me when I needed her, both with little things and big things.

Yesterday she helped me out again. At 7:30 pm, the power went out. It was getting close to the kiddos' bedtimes but they were obviously unsettled. So even though we had just had a slumber party over there the night before, I called my mom and she graciously let us come over. I didn't even have to ask - just told her my power had gone out and she invited us over. I love the fact that she lives right down the road! I wish everyone had a mother as great as mine.

And on another note, I'm glad we have power. We only lost it for a few hours. Nothing like people on the east coast who lost it for days, or worse yet, those who don't have the luxury at all.

Check out other stories of God's blessings over at He Sows and She Sews.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Party Time

My mom, sisters and I decided it would be fun to let the cousins have a slumber party sometime. Yesterday we had that chance.

We had lots of fun! First we played with play doh.

Then the kids made quite a mess with some blocks.

Next we baked some chocolate chip cookies and everyone helped.

We played a little bit of "Just Dance"

...and then charades - it was C's first time playing and he did very well.

Finally we settled in with a movie.

Everyone had a great time!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Uh oh

So today when I was in the shower, J was playing with his I thought. Well he decided the bear was dirty so he grabbed his roll on soap. His red soap. On a white bear.

Bear got a bath...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lunch with Friends

Today I went out for lunch with a few coworkers plus a former coworker. We went to a place I had never tried before called Los Dos Molinos. It's always on the top Mexican food lists in the region but I hadn't made it there before today. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a foodie but typically if there is a Mexican food restaurant that is cheap and close to home or work, I'll find it. The food was awesome! Very spicy, just the way I like it. I would definitely go back. Plus it was nice to meet up with a former coworker and chat about old's good to move forward but nice to remember where you've been.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Should I?

So November is apparently NaBloPoMo aka National Blog Posting Month. I wasn't familiar with it before last week until someone mentioned it in one of my groups on Ravelry. Participants are supposed to blog every day for a whole month. I'm contemplating joining but I'm not sure I have enough to say.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Unfortunately the two WIPs I keep mentioning are still under construction. Frankly I'm a little sick of working on them. But I'm at least making progress!

First up is the monster. I've finished with the plain rounds (that got tedious). Now I'm onto the decreases, so at least it's gotten more interesting. I'm hoping to crank out the body by the end of the weekend.

Project two is the blanket. By my calculations I'm 65% of the way done. I've been trying to get a least one row done ever night so I can move onto the second blanket I need to work on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Taco Soup

I'm a little late in writing this but we actually did try a new dinner idea in October so I can cross another thing off my resolutions list.

On Sunday I made crockpot taco soup. The recipe is super simple. It's basically dump in cans and turn on the crockpot all day. The only extra step is browning the beef ahead of time if you want it (we did). I didn't get any pics of the dish though.

2 cans of corn
2 cans of pinto beans
2 cans of kidney beans
1 can of tomatoes with chiles
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 lb seasoned ground beef

Brown the beef and drain the grease. Season with whatever spices you usually use for taco meat. Add this to the bottom of the crockpot. Drain and rinse the beans then add to the pot. Add the corn and tomatoes (don't drain the liquid for these) and the dressing. Simmer on low for 8 hours. Add toppings after it is dished.

I think the original recipe was looking for a six quart pot and mine's only four so it was a little too full - I had to take a couple spoonfuls out. Next time I will cut back accordingly.
E was the only one who ate it. C (unsurprisingly) and J (surprisingly) wouldn't eat it. I'm unsure of my vote as I didn't eat it (I had a bit of an upset stomach so I ate crackers instead). E and I both thought it would be better without kidney beans so we will probably try that next time (it will help with the space issue too!). I think we will end up trying this again at some point.

ETA: I just noticed this is my 100th post! Yay!