Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Little Things to Keep My Hands Busy

I love little things that I can make in a short time.  It makes me feel accomplished and crafty.  I'm one of those people who can't sit still when a movie or TV show is on.  My hands have to be doing something.  That's why I like to knit and crochet so much. Most of the time, I work on a bigger project that's getting monotonous, like the foot part of a sock or sleeves on a sweater.

I especially like working on something if I'm watching an intense show; I've been watching a lot of Prison Break lately,  and that show gets pretty intense, so knitting has been a great help getting through the first 2 seasons.

And aren't these little birds so sweet?  They take almost no time at all, which fills my quick quota.  They fit in with my current bird obsession.  And they help me take my mind off some of the action.  The hardest part of these birds is choosing the colors to use.  I made these 4 in less than an hour.  They are super easy:

Little Birds

Gauge is not super important for this.  For bigger birds use thicker yarn and bigger hook.  For smaller use the opposite.  I used worsted weight yarn, and a 3.75mm hook for the bird, and 2.5mm hook for the wing.

For the bird head and body:

Round 1:    10 sc in an adjustable ring and pull as tightly so no hole is showing.
Round 2:    2 sc in the next sc, sc in next sc, hdc then dc in next sc, 2dc in next 2sc, 2sc in next sc,  sc then dc in next sc, 2 treble in next sc, 2 double treble in the next sc,  2 double treble in the last sts.
Round 3: double treble in first st, 1 triple treble and leave the rest unfinished.
Put this part aside and work on beak.

  Join yellow yarn in the 7th stitch of the second row with a slip stitch then sc in the same stitch.
Wing:  Using the smaller hook, make a adjustable ring, then ch 2, 2 dc, 3 sc, 1dc, 3 sc, 2 dc. 
Put it all together:  Sew the wing to the bird in the desired position.Add some embroidery for the eye. Weave in all ends and voila you have a little bird!

 To make these little birds into a pin, I had to stiffen the birds first so that they weren't a floppy when you pinned them to something.  So I mixed a little tacky glue in some water, and painted the back of the birds with the glue.  Don't worry it will dry clear.  And then I let it dry over night.  The next morning, I had stiff little birds, suitable for pins.  I hot glued the pin backs on the birds, and then they were ready to go!  I put the blue one on my coat! and I have 3 for friends.

Look, the yellow one looks like Shiloh!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Just another day for the Allergist

Today I had a specialist appointment with the allergist! Leading up to it was not a fun time.  But, as I found out, it was just another day for the allergist.

For 5 days before the appointment, I was not allowed to have any antihistamines.  None.  And it is spring-like conditions around town.  That's 5 days without anything for sneezing.  Without anything for runny noses, or itchy eyes, or hives.  And lucky me, I had all these great symptoms!  For a bonus, I got a cold 3 days before the appointment, and all the cold medication I had, has antihistamines in it!  Hooray for double misery!

Why does the allergist hate me?

Finally, my appointment came!  I had all these questions about hives, and allergies, and how they work, and most importantly, why me?  But the doctor had other things on his mind.  I asked him how he was, and he ignored the question!  He just started asking about my nose!  Do I have nose problems?  How would I describe my nose problems?  How much tissue did I use? (For effect, he held up a box, just so I knew what he was talking about.)  How did my nose feel right now?  Could he look up my nose?  I was never as self-conscious about my nose as I was in this appointment.  Finally, as he took a breath, I asked the formost question on my mind, "why do you hate me, doctor?"

I rendered him speechless.  He asked me to clarify, and I said, "I couldn't have antihistamines for a week, and this left me miserable and feeling awful."

His answer, "You suffer now, so you can feel better later."

Ah!  He beat me at my own game!

Why does the Allergist hate me?

Then he proceeded to start the allergy test.  He used some liquids in some bottles, put drops on my forearm in rows, and then pricked the dots with a needle!

Why does the allergist hate me?

We then talked about my allergy results from when I was a child.  We talked about how to minimize the dust mites in my home.  My arm started to itch.  And itch. AND ITCH!  I asked him if my arm was supposed to itch.  He quickly said, "yes." And kept talking. And my arm kept itching.  I told him it really itched.  He said, "yes, I know."

I asked, "Can I scratch my arm?"

He said, "No."

I said, "Please."

He said, "No." Very calmly.

I said, "Please?"

He said, "No."  Even calmer than before, if that was possible.

Finally, it was time to read the test.  And this is what my arm looked like:

My, oh my! Look at all those reactions!  The doctor said this wasn't so bad.

Why does he hate me?

The verdict, I'm allergic to dogs, cats, horses (who new?), cows (really?), dust mites, household dust and I had small reaction to parakeet feathers, and duck feathers.  Doesn't my arm look really uncomfortable?  It was. 

After we read the test, we talked about medication.  He suggested needles.  No thanks! The only other option for me was a nasal spray.  I hate things up my nose.

But he was really a nice man.  Even if he hates me.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Made: Crochet Ornaments

I think I've been nesting.  No, I'm not preparing for a baby (mom), but I have been making things, and buying more things to make our apartment feel more like a home.  For a long while when we moved in, we were students, and didn't have the money to get furniture or linens, so we made due with gifts, donations to us the needy students, and what we could lind at thrift stores. (Fast forward and I still like to go to thrift stores, but I'm looking for different things now.)

Lately, I've been into beautifying our home, and turning it into something we are proud to have people in.  A place that we are proud to live in.  We have always taken care of our apartment, just never decorated it.

And its been all about decorations with me lately.  First were the birds (link)  and now I'm crocheting these little stars and balls.

They are just so fast!  I made 2 of them during an episode of Prison Break.  They are a cute break from the blanket I'm making, and just so darn quick.  They are instantly gratifying.

I've just been hanging them around the house in little places where they are a nice surprise.   I have a star hanging on my bed.

The pattern for these lovely baubles can be found at Lucy's blog, Attic 24 (link).  If you feel the need to decorate your nest.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Ongoing Battle of Wills: The Brita Pitcher

Photo from

Oftentimes, D and I will get into little passive aggressive bouts around the house.  We never argue, but we are both fairly stubborn about how certain things should be in our living space.  Every once and a while, you will get to read about these ongoing battles of will; especially when I get extra fed up with something.

Like right now.  I'm fed up with the Brita Water pitcher situation.

The Brita water pitcher situation is this:  I like cold water to drink.  So I like to put it in the fridge.  D says he doesn't like drinking cold water.  So he leaves it in te way on the counter. 

Besides looking sloppy and not put away, the water is super warm and gross when I want to drink it. 

I have said to him, if you want warm water, drink it from the tap.  He is convinced that he's going to catch leprosy drinking from the tap.  D's a bit of a water snob.  I don't mind drinking from the tap, but in our building, the tap water doesn't get very cold. 

One suggestion we've had was to get a second pitcher, keep one in the fridge and one on the counter.  Its a good suggestion, but I think that's crazy.   There are only 2 people in this household, AND in our little fridge space is at a premium.  I want to keep room for important things like cupcakes, and jam. 

Another suggestion is that I turn off the heat.  That way EVERYTHING will be cold.  But then I say, "that would save me money on hydro voice in my head, but I would spend more money on cold medication." 

So this is where the ongoing battle of wills comes in.  When I drink from the pitcher, I put it back in the fridge.  When D drinks from it, he leaves it on the counter.  Like a Luddite.  Then when I ask him to put it in the fridge, he sighs, "there's no room in the fridge."  Not ony do I think that he moves everything to the front of the fridge so it looks like there's no room, but I think he is hoping I forget that he can bend over, and that he does have arms to shuffle things around to make the pitcher fit.

Where is the pitcher now?  On the counter.  Where should it be?  In the fridge.  Will I put it there after I use it?  Yep.  Will it be there when I go for it again?  No way.

And the battle continues for ever and ever.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Made: Quilted phone case

I finally got a new phone!  After months of a phone that constantly died while I was talking, I took the plunge and got a new one.  I didn't get a very popular model though-- well, its not popular yet.

So to protect my new phone, I made this phone pocket.  Because it uses a touch screen, I wanted to give it a little cushioning, so I quilted it using a little cotton batting I had left over and a simple stitch pattern.

I did take enough pictures to write up a tutorial, so if there is interest, I will write one up for anyone that has a Samsung Galaxy phone that needs covering.

***TUTORIAL ADDED****  A printable PDF version is available for free download on my "Make It!" (link) tutorials page.

When I sew, I kinda make it up as I go along.  I've tried to be clear and concise in this tutorial.  Sometimes, I forget something, or make a mistake. Please let me know if I did that here.  Also, if you make a case, I would love to see some pictures of what you made!  Please share!  Ok, here we go!

What you will need:
  • 2 pieces of corresponding fabric, cut into the measurement of your phone plus 1 inch (4 pieces of fabric total) seam allowances cut into the measurement of your phone plus 1 inch
  • cotton bating cut into the measurement of your phone plus 1 inch (2 pieces total)
  • Matching thread
  • Rotary cutter, quilting ruler and mat (for easier cutting pieces)
  • Sewing machine

 Step 1: Cut all you pieces out

Using a rotary cutter and ruler, I cut all out my rectangles so that they measured 6 inches by 3 inches (the measurement of my phone plus 1 inch.) I cut 2 pieces of dark blue for the outside, the light fabric for the lining, and the batting for protection.  Put your lining pieces a side, you will be sewing the outside fabric and the batting together first.

Step 2: Sew the batting to the outer fabric

Pin the bating to the outer fabric, and using a marking chalk, mark the quilting design you want on the outside of your case.  I kept t simple, and went with a diamond pattern.  If you want to use this design, remember sew the first line from one corner, diagonally to another corner.  This will help all you quilting seams line up, and keep you fabric from bunching too much.

 Step 3: Sew the outside of the case together
 After quilting both side, place both pieces right sides together.  Sew a seam (1/4- 1/2 inch seams) up each side stopping about an inch from the top if you are lining your case.  Leaving an inch from the top will help when you put the whole thing together.  Sew a seam across the bottom, so you have a pocket.  If you don't want your pocket lined, you can stop here turn right side in and carry your phone around. No one will know what's inside!  If you like adventure, you can continue on and line your case.

Step 4: Sew the lining

Set aside the outer part of your case, and with the right sides of the fabric facing together, sew the side seams of you lining together.  Sew the bottom seam to make a pocket, but leave about 1 1/2 inch space unsewn in the bottom.  This is so we can turn the whole thing right-side-in when he time is right.  Turn the lining, so the right side of the fabric is facing outward.  Put the lining into the inside out pocket that is the outer part of your case, the right sides of the fabric should be facing inside the pocket.

Step 5: Sew the top of the bag 
I wish I would have taken a picture of this, but I had my hands full!  Sew a seam all around the top of the pocket.  After the seam is sewn, sew up the sides.  Trim and extra fabric from around the top of the pocket.  Now is when the magic happens...

Step 6: Flipping it inside out/ right side in
 Reaching inside your pocket, pull out the lining (it should be inside out.)  Through the little hole you left in the lining, you will turn the whole pocket right side in.  It takes a little working like in the picture above.  But once you get everything through you should end up with:

 Using a needle and thread, or your machine, sew up the hole left in the lining.  Push the lining into back in the case and make sure your phone fits!

 Voila!  A unique and useful protective case for your phone!

Some tricks I learned:
  • Pushing the corners out in the case was tricky.  For this I use a knitting needle. 
  • Test your phone in each part before sewing the case up.  It should be a little loose. 
  • Use cotton fabric and batting in your case, and not wool.  Wool carries/ causes (?) static electricity, and that's really bad for electronics. 
I hope you enjoy making and carrying your new case!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Made: Sewn birds

I cleaned out my fabric box on the weekend.  I have so much of it!  I used to quilt a lot, but I don't have as much time as I used to, so now I make little projects to tide me over. 

I found this pattern (link) created by the fabric shop Spool, and I had to try it. 

The only problem was they are very addictive to make.  Soon I had all these little birds.  And I started looking for place for them to perch.

And I even tried to see if Shiloh wanted a new room mate:

Finally, the flock decided to roost on my bed.  They seem quite happy there.

Maybe I'll make a mobile so they can have a permanent home...

Monday, 20 February 2012

Winter Walk

We got out!  Instead of sitting at home on our day off, we went for a walk.  It was sunny and wonderful outside, so I took a few pictures.  We were out for more than 2 hours wondering around.  During the walk, we talked with a gardener who's garden consists of native plants to the area.  She was so knowledgeable, and excited to share her work.  We met other photographers, just walking around soaking up the light.

And we stumbled on a local museum, and it was open!  So we had a tour:

Of course I took pictures of the vintage-y things I loved in the modernized part of the manor.

But there were Edwardian/ Victorian rooms as well:

I love the little adventures that D and I get into on a simple walk.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Handmade cards

I made some cards for D's co-workers recently.  Well, I made one, and it went over so well that his colleague asked if I would make a birthday card for her friend.  I was so flattered!  This is the card I made. 

It was simple, but pretty.  I had to leave enough space inside for all the people in the office to sign it, so the inside was blank except for one little quote.  This is my favorite birthday quote: "Be happy.  Its one way of being wise." by Sidonie Collette.  I love little phrases that make you feel good about getting older.

I don't do paper crafts very often; I find them fragile and intimidating.  But I like making cards.  I should try making them more often.  In fact, I don't think I will buy cards anymore.  I hope my friends and family like getting handmade things as much as I do... 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Made: New Make-Up Bag

My make up bag was getting too small.  I don't carry around a lot of make-up, but I do carry around other make-up like items.

Look at all that stuff!  I needed something a little bigger, but not as big as most of the make-up cases I found.  So I made one!   I found this cute fabric on sale a while ago, and I thought it would be perfect for something I can carry around.

I had all the notions and such on hand from other sewing projects.  It had been so long since I had sewn anything, I was a little rusty, but I think it turned out nicely.  And it is lined:

I had this red and pink striped fabric too, and it is perfect for inside.  I really love how it turned out.  One more picture:

If you want to make one for yourself, the tutorial that is closest to my bag is here (link).  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Caught the crochet bug

Since I finished my ripple stitch throw (link) I have been thinking of nothing else other than making lovely cushions, with great colors.  So, I had to go and get a few of skeins of yarn in lovely colors to start hooking again! 

I took a long break from crocheting when I became a good enough knitter to make anything I wanted.  It took a while to become a proficient knitter, it was a while before I caught the crochet bug.  But, I have it now!  And with all these colors, I am going to make a pillow for my couch.  I went to an outlet store in town and got the yarn for 4 dollars a ball, such a deal! 

I usually don't use acrylic yarns, but I think for housewares type projects, I think it will make more sense, especially since I wash pillow cases way more than anything else. 

I can't wait to see how my hooking projects turn out! 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Thoughts on Valentine's Day

When I was younger, I never recognized Valentine's Day as anything special.  As a child, something tragic happened to a friend of mine on this day, and for years, it seemed almost wrong to celebrate this day.

As I grew up, I never had anyone special on Valentine's Day, so it seemed fitting for rebellious me to shrug this day off as "something-corporations-created-to-get-us to-buy-things-so-soon-after- Christmas" type of thing.  I was such a romantic as an undergrad.

Yet again, my idea of Valentine's Day has changed.  After spending this time with my partner D, I've come to see Valentine's Day as something new.  There is still a part of me that regrets what happened to my friend all those years ago.  And there is still a part of me that thinks buying stuff is not the best way to show someone you care.  I believe that Valentine's Day can be a good reminder to show the person you love that you value them.  Yes, we should do this everyday, but sometimes life gets in the way.  D knows I love him all the time, but if there are a few days a year, that I can take the time and do something special for D, then that can't be a bad day in my books.  It can be a day of complex feelings, and it is.

I chose the above quote, because at this point in my life, I feel that my reality is better than I dreamed.  I have a career I love, a partner I adore and a home with him.  Who could ask for anything more?

As I was ruminating on my feelings about Valentine's Day, I did a little crochet.  These little hearts.

Aren't they so cute?

Would you like to make some?  I should warn you, they are so fast and cute they are a little addictive.

Tiny Cute Hearts

Gauge doesn't matter, just use an appropriate size hook for the yarn.  I used an E hook with light worsted weight yarn.

(The whole heart is one round)

Make a magic circle (crochet all stitches into the circle)
Chain 3
3 treble crochet
3 doubles crochet
chain 1
1 treble crochet
chain 1
3 double crochet
3 treble crochet
chain 2
slip stitch into circle and fasten off.

I also made the three dimensional ones in the top pic.  That pattern is here (link).

For D's present, I didn't make it.  But I did make the wrapping paper:

He's a writer, so I thought punctuation would be cute.  I stamped all over some white paper, and made a little card.

D knows me so well, he got me a handmade gift from my favorite store, White Elephant!

Isn't it sweet?  It was made by Maudstitch (link).  I can't wait to wear it on my cardigan tomorrow!

And we made sure that everyone in this house got a little love today:

There's nothing Shiloh loves better than a good neck scratch.

Hope your Valentine's Day was happy!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Sick Day

Somedays feel like a grilled cheese and tomato soup kind of day.  Today, I was sick, and so I had a day of comfort cravings.  When I'm sick, I crave the things that I had when I was younger, and this was a lunch that we had a lot.  There is not a lot of things that I want to do when I'm sick.  But what I do like to do is:

Watch TV.  I love that Netflix has television shows in its listings.  We don't have cable, so we don't watch a lot of TV.  But I have a special weakness for British television.  My new show of choice is Camelot.  Its terribly melodramatic and over-acted, but I love it.  I'm cuddled up on the couch in a woolen blanket nest watching episode, after episode.

I need tea in my very favorite mug.  I call this my "Teacher Mug" because this is pretty much my motto in the classroom.  I always like to stay calm, especially if something is going down to rile the kiddies up. When I feel sick, this mug makes me smile.  My mom bought this mug for me on a whim when we were shopping in Buffalo.  I've used it every day since.

What I am saddest about this sick day is how beautiful the weather is outside.  Its sunny and there's snow on the ground.  It would have been a great day for a walk.  Sigh.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be just as nice-- for Valentine's Day.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Pretty Little Things

I had a little date with myself on Friday.  After work, I decided to go to one of my favorite places (James North) and wonder around!  James North is a street where there are  lots of neat little art places, and shops.  I took in a show by artist Stephanie Seagram (link) (which was great) and then bought myself two pretty little things.  The first thing is very practical as it is very pretty: a tea wallet!

Isn't it cute?  I take tea with me to school and rehearsal, so it made sense that I take it in something other than a plastic baggie.   Its so sweet.  It was made by Sweet Stitch (link), so if you want one, go on to the link already.  I got it at one of my fave stores on James North, White Elephant (link).  This is why it is one of my favorite spots:

Photo from

Look how beautiful it is in there!  And there are always at least 100 things I want to buy.  I have to settle on one thing at a time or I will break the bank!  There are so many handmade goodies in here, I always walk out with a little something, and a little inspiration.

I stopped in at another favorite spot, my local art shop Mixed Media (link) and bought a great pen.  I've always wanted to try writing with pen and ink.  I love the look of it, and hey, I love learning new things, so I went an bought a pretty little pen to do it with.  I get most of my art supplies from Mixed Media because aside from Dave knowing so darn much, this space is beautiful too!

Photos by Dave Kuruc at Mixed Media, from
I got to spend a little time with myself, see a great art exhibit, and pick up 2 little gifts for myself.  I didn't forget D!  While he was working away, I picked him up his favorite treat, some Portuguese custard tarts.  He was a happy dude too.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Crepes for Dinner

Being a grown-up means that you can choose to have whatever you want for dinner.  So D and I had crepes!  We had savory crepes first, then dessert crepes.  I ate the dinner ones so fast, I forgot to take pictures of the first ones.  But these are the dessert crepes with my favorite sweet filling.  Here's the recipe:

Easy Crepe Recipe (that I use for any crepe craving)
Makes 4 crepes (or 2 huge crepes)

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 lukewarm water
2 large eggs
1/8 cup melted butter
1/8 tsp of salt
for dessert crepes add 1 tbsp of sugar

Mix all ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Let sit for 30 mins to get rid of bubbles. (I have used the batter right after mixing, and the crepes turned out fine).  Heat a non-stick frying pan.  Lift the pan off the heat, and pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan thinly (about a 1/4 cup of batter) and rotate the pan so that the batter covers the whole pan.  Put back on the heat and cook until set, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Flip using a spatula or finger tips, cook for a minute on the other side.  Done!  And fill!  Store between wax paper in an airtight container in the fridge.

My favorite fillings:

Dinner crepe: Baby spinach; brie; sliced turkey; cranberry sauce or honey mustard

Dessert crepe: bananas; Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread); peanut butter; pecans

But you can fill them with almost anything.  Please share if you have any amazing fillings.