Christmas! It’s totally over! Like a Month Ago!

Of course, the presents I crocheted for people have no pictures because I’m a flake. So, you won’t see the fabulous slippers I made for my and Mike’s moms. They’re fabulous! So, um, if you two moms would like to take pictures of them so I could post them here, that would be pretty awesome, thanks!

I spent most of my Christmas break baking lots of cookies:
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Baking yummy smelling scented ornaments (seriously, how cute are these? They were easy to make and incredibly fun to paint! Don’t eat them though, they’re almost entirely salt!):

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And playing with my new toys:

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I totally sewed that! I my BRAND NEW SEWING MACHINE! Hooray!

I actually made these for my dad for Christmas:

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I haven’t finished my step dad’s yet. Oops…I’m also working on some jammies for Ollie, and a hook roll for a friend of mine.

Speaking of hook cases, sewing machines and people I love, have I mentioned recently how awesome the people I know are? That Christmas list I made, the totally hypothetical list was actually read by those people and I am happy to say that I can cross some really badass stuff off my list. Mom got me a really cool hook case in my favorite color, my sister “gave” me an organizer for my threads, Sara got me the yarn snips of my dreams (the bus patrons are far less terrified of me these days) and Mike’s mommy got me a sewing machine! All of these things have provided me with hours of childlike joy and entertainment.

I can’t wait to figure out clothes! I’m working on it, but I have to get a lot better at stitching things, and I definitely need to figure out how to keep thread monstrosities from happening in the bobbin case. :-s Woo!

I hope your Christmas was good too!

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Let’s Talk About Food for a Minute

This is primarily a craft blog, and I try not to stray from that path too often. In fact, I’d initially intended to talk about my BRAND NEW SEWING MACHINE (thanks Kampers!) and the cool little snippy scissors my friend Sara got me (LOVE THEM!). But, crafts are an art, and so is food, so we’re going to talk about food for a little while.

I am a vegetarian. Briefly I was vegan, and for the most part I enjoyed it. I quit being vegan when I met Mike and we discovered that we couldn’t eat anything together because he was picky and I didn’t eat dairy. At that moment, human interaction became more important, as sharing a meal and the act of preparation is a way of bonding. I don’t regret it at all. Besides, a few months later he quit eating meat, so we both sacrificed in hopes of making that bond stronger. We’re getting married, so it must have worked (though I’d like to think that love helped)!

Now, I’m not one to hand out pamphlets. My dietary concerns are private and I’ll only explain them when asked. Most vegetarians I’ve met are pretty similar on that front. Sure, I’ve met some assholes who insist that everyone immediately liberate some cows and throw paint on people, but that is a very, tiny, miniscule, insignificant portion of the population. You can think of them as the tea party of vegetarianism. It’s a small group of radicals that make us all look bad.

So, that being said, why are meat eaters such jerks to us? I’ll admit that many of them are tolerant, even curious, but for every nice omnivore I have met a jerk who has made it their duty to tell my why I’m an idiot for not eating animal flesh. I have heard, “God wants us to eat animals and you’re wasting his gift” on TWO occasions, I’ve been given the “You know, those animals can’t survive on their own, so we’re protecting them by brutally slaughtering them” speech more times than I can count, and my favorite, “I bet your farts are worse than mine,” requires no explanation. My fiance has actually been told that he is harming America because vegetables are picked by illegal immigrants.

The reason this is so stupid (aside from the massive, glaring flaws in logic) is because all I am doing is providing my body with nutrients that come from plants and a few animal products. I’m not breaking down your door and forcing tofu down your throat. Hell, I don’t even EAT tofu that often. I’m raising my family to be compassionate towards all living creatures with the hope that even if the world doesn’t stop eating meat it starts treating its meat a little better. Also, I’m seriously decreasing my risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

So, am I really the enemy here? Don’t you think that hatred of me would be better placed towards appropriate targets? Such as the tea party, or Voldomort?

Rant over! Here’s a recipe for you tofu phobes out there. I wouldn’t eat this stuff every day (I really don’t like pressing tofu) but it’s a pretty awesome meal when I have time!

Courtney’s Tofu Parmesan

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb firm tofu

About 1/4 to 1/2 cup of wheat germ, bread crumbs, or a combination of the two. (It doesn’t matter much which you use, I just like the wheat germ to give it a nutritional boost)

1 tsp(ish) garlic power

1 tsp(ish) italian seasonings

1 tbs(ish) Parmesan cheese, grated

Spray oil of some sort (or you could just brush it with some Olive Oil, if you can)

Pasta sauce of your choice (I make my own, it’s so easy, I’ll add the recipe below)

Spaghetti, cooked

1/2 cup (or to taste) shredded mozzarella cheese. 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Press tofu (put it between two plates, put a book on top, let sit) for thirty minutes, drain water. Combine dry ingredients. Slice tofu into eight thin slices and coat with mixture, front and back (should stick on it’s own, since it’s fairly wet, if not, feel free to beat an egg white or two to hold it together. Unless you want tons of breading, this really isn’t necessary). Spray a baking sheet with oil. Place slices on baking sheet and give a quick spray or brush with oil. Bake for fifteen minutes, turn, and then bake for another ten to fifteen, or till a lovely goldish color. Place on top of spaghetti, cover with piping hot sauce, and top with mozarella. Eat it up, yum!

Courtney’s Pitifully Easy Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

About four garlic cloves (more or less to taste)–diced

1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Two cans of diced tomatoes

Various Italian Seasonings to taste

Optional–red pepper flakes to taste

Optional–one half a block of tempeh (for protein)

Optional–black olives

Instructions

Saute the garlic in the oil until fragrant. Add tomatoes, tempeh and black olives if you like, and whatever seasonings strike your fancy. Simmer for about thirty minutes to let the flavors meld (longer if you really want, though you may have to add more tomatoes). If you want, you can put the mixture in a food processor (if you do this, hold off on adding the tempeh and other solids until afterwards) to give it that hearty “Ragu” like texture, but I like it as just delish tomatoey goodness on top of my pasta too. For the Parmesan you should probably leave off tempeh and blend the bajeezus out of it.

Enjoy! Craft stuff later, promise!

 

 

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Christmas!!!

Here’s a little something you may or may not know about me. I have a love for Christmas that is positively stupid. I am the single most festive person you’ve ever met, promise. Don’t believe me? Ask my mom. Still don’t believe me. I took this picture a few years ago, in my bathroom :

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That wasn’t even half of it guys.

So clearly, I have some sort of love of the Holidays that borderlines on a personality disorder.Still, whenever someone says, “Hey Courtney, what do you want for Christmas?” I draw up a blank, and start talking about Dictionaries and Greek and Latin Reference books until their eyes glaze over. Why is it so damn hard for me to write a Christmas list for myself?

Well, I did some thinking, and since I really can’t post what I’ve been working on lately for holiday related reasons, I figured I might as well put up the definitive, “What I Want For Christmas” list not only for me(I know you’re all just DYING to know!) but any crafty person you might know. Sure, it would be easy and convenient to go for the standard toys: hot glue guns, beads, fancy scrapbooking paper (or whatever the hell it is scrapbookers like, I don’t actually “get” papercrafting) but if you’re looking for something a little fancier, these ten items should give you a leg up on Great Aunt Margaret (who totally caved and bought the glue gun). So, without further ado:

Courtney’s Top Ten Best Gifts Ever!!!

1. A Freaking Hook Case! I have been insistent, for years, that I’m going to go ahead and make my own organizer for my hooks. The case is a lie. I will never, ever, actually sit down and crochet myself something for my hooks, and most crocheters I know are in the same boat. There are a plethora of reasons for this, from not being great with measurements to getting really, really bored about ten minutes in. Unfortunately, my hooks don’t care that I have really inconvenient ADD, and manage to get lost all the time. I could do the math and tell you how much money I’ve spent replacing my stupid hooks, but that would just depress me. This one is really cute:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/86672671/crochet-hook-case-mod-dot?ref=v1_other_2 Plus it’s a roll, and those are super convenient for carrying in a book bag or purse.

2. Tiny Scissors Stupid as it sounds, I own no tiny scissors. I own plenty of craft scissors, but Olive uses those for “art projects” (cutting bits of paper and making a huge mess) so they’re often misplaced when being hurriedly picked up. Also, apparently people get a little leery of you when you pull kitchen scissors out on a bus. A small, discreet pair is perfect for anyone doing yarn or needlework of any kind. Here’s a pair, though really, any will do: http://www.amazon.com/Boye-Crochet-Curved-Blade-Snips/dp/B0041GSNG2/ref=sr_1_167?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1322672164&sr=1-167

3. Baby Sitting I really don’t think I need to explain this.

4. Cross Stitch Stuff I bet you didn’t know this, but I actually do know how to cross stitch and have done a few small projects recently. Why haven’t you seen any? Because they’re Christmas presents! I kind of like having a different medium to work with and it’s neat to pretend that I know how to sew (when in reality I know how to make an x on a graph). Cross stitchers can appreciate all kinds of goods, from fabric to needles and hoops, but I don’t know a single one who couldn’t use a case to organize their floss. For about three bucks, you can make that dream a reality. http://www.amazon.com/Hawk-PLASTIC-BOX-21-5X13X5-5CM-MJ-94601/dp/B001V9BCEW/ref=sr_1_91?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1322798915&sr=1-91 I am serious when I say this, but ANY plastic box with dividers will do. Feel free to decorate it once you’ve picked one out.

5. A Pretty Bag To Hold All My Crap In This also goes on the list of things I insist someday I’m going to make. It also is a lie. I love this one, but it’s really expensive: http://www.etsy.com/listing/44569589/yarn-tote-vibrant-pink-and-purple?ref=v1_other_1 Perhaps someone out there will teach me how to sew and then I can do it myself?

6. A Sewing Machine!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ok, so obviously, no one is going to get me this. Seriously, that is a boat load of money going into something that I don’t actually know how to use. But, I’ll probably buy myself one with whatever Christmas money comes my way. I don’t know the difference between sewing machines, so here’s a picture of something that I am pretty sure is a sewing machine. http://www.amazon.com/SINGER-4411-Heavy-Sewing-Machine/dp/B003VWXZKG/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1322716447&sr=8-11

7. Perler Beads Perler beads are so fun, guys! I’ve made so many coasters and magnets for little presents this year. They’re almost instant gratification and very cool looking. Plus, kids enjoy it too, so it gives everyone a chance to be a little crafty. Just don’t let them throw the beads around. http://www.amazon.com/Perler-Beads-11-000-Count-Multi-Mix/dp/B0002YM0H0/ref=sr_1_1?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1322888879&sr=1-1

8. Fusion Bead Kit I’m putting this on the list of things I really, really, really want but probably am not going to get. Still, if you’re buying for a special crafter who likes pretty things and saying the words “I made it myself!” this is a good bet. We’re a fairly adventurous group of people, so we love to experiment with new mediums. So please Santa, please! http://www.amazon.com/Fuseworks-FW848-Beginners-Fusing-Kit/dp/B001O5ULP4/ref=sr_1_4?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1322888952&sr=1-4

9. Resin My father thought my jewelry resin was glue. So he used it…to glue things with. And so, I have learned. That being said, resin is super cool and gives nearly instant gratificaton, as a medium. This is one of those things where you can’t go wrong. You can buy resin, molds, or stains, and I’d have an endless possibility of jewelry and fun! http://www.amazon.com/Environmental-Technology-EasyCast-Jewelry-Popular/dp/B00114OTXI/ref=sr_1_2?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1322889128&sr=1-2 http://www.amazon.com/Environmental-Technology-8-Ounce-Casting-Craft/dp/B000XAR0DM/ref=sr_1_1?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1322889128&sr=1-1

10. Fancy Pants Yarn I love yarn. No, wait, I really, really love yarn. Or, to make it stronger, I “superlove” yarn. In fact, I love it so much that I’ve made it a habit to pick up a few skeins on clearance at the local craft store whenever I stop in. That being said, I have more yarn than I need, by a long shot. Also, Mike would kill me if he heard I’d spent more than five bucks a skein on anything! So if you know a yarn enthusiast this year, remember that they really need a little pampering too, and that if your adding to an already full stash, then it has to be “greatest thing I’ve ever touched” wool. I’m talking hand spun, hand painted, and lovingly packaged by a real human being wool. http://www.etsy.com/listing/87092521/handspun-self-striping-yarn-bulky?ref=sr_gallery_38&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=yarn&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_ship_to=US&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade

My favorite: http://www.etsy.com/listing/71362648/whirly-pop-handspun-yarn?ref=sr_gallery_30&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=yarn&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_ship_to=US&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_page=2&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade

This one is both eco friendly and helps women in India: http://www.etsy.com/listing/87291634/660-yards-sari-silk-yarn-recycled-super?ref=sr_2e3fd823b546de8ba73d3ea46ccf9a3026bbed0c9233c6369ec83cdecd979037_1322890404_14151558_yarn

Search for “yarn” and let the colors and textures take you away!

So when you’re shopping for me a crafty person, this list should help give you some ideas!

And Santa, if you’re reading this, I could totally make you a new suit if I got that sewing machine. Just saying.

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Busy Bee

I don’t know why I chose that as a title, seeing as it’s fall and the bees are all dead.

But it’s true, I have been busy as hell. Today, for instance, was Thanksgiving, and what did I do?

I made stuffing (from scratch!), whipped sweet potatoes (from scratch!), roasted brussels sprouts (duh!), mushroom gravy, tofurky roasts, two pumpkin pies: Photobucket and one apple coffee cake with a brown sugar glaze: Photobucket

You’ll notice there’s nothing in that pan. That’s because my entire family are pigs.

After all that, I made this: Photobucket

In fact, I made three of those today. Martha Stewart has absolutely nothing on me.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the following Christmas post. 🙂

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Hey Look, I Actually Finished Something

Some of you may remember this.
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Hairy little fella, isn’t he? Truth be told? I’ve never put hair on an amigurimi before. Frankly, I’m not even one hundred percent on human hair. That’s why all my attempts to grow it out end in a frustrated hacking off of all hair once it hits about mid length. I feel awful for Olive, as every day I wake up insistent that this will be the day I master a french braid, and every day Olive goes out into the world looking like I paid a homeless man to do her hair. Needless to say, Hairy Harry Potter was a bit of an ambitious project.

But, after a restyling, carefully places limbs and of course, the ultimate accessory, I think he turned out pretty cute. Photobucket

We even went on a magical adventure together!

Here we are reading tea leaves, looking for clues as to where Voldemort might have hidden another horcrux!
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Here he is looking through my Latin book for ideas for new spells!
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And here he is defeating Voldemort!
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Truth be told, I’m kind of attached to him. He’s a gift for my future sister in law Kristy (whose birthday was two months ago…) so I know I need to fork him over, but how often do you get to go on a magical adventure with a toy you made?

Oh well, I can just make myself a Neville!

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Blech

Admittedly, I’ve been pretty awful about updating this stupid thing.

I’m sure all of you have assumed, as anyone would, that I have either died or quit crocheting. In fact, neither of those things happened. Last time I checked I was still breathing with some regularity and managing most mental functions. As for crocheting, I am always crocheting. What I am not always doing, is completing.

I could list a bazillion reasons why I don’t have eighty bazillion things to show you, from reworking patterns to abandoning ship, but what it usually comes down to is a combination of lack of enthusiasm and general laziness. Case in point, here’s a spoiler for a project you’ll see down the line: Photobucket

Why yes, yes that is Harry Potter’s head. I’ve been working on it for Mike’s sister’s birthday WHICH WAS TWO MONTHS AGO and I have yet to figure out a body I’m ok with. And you guys should see the blankie I have yet to complete for someone whose baby was born THREE MONTHS AGO. It would be gorgeous if it was done.

Luckily, at any given time I’m usually working on four or five projects, so sometimes an exciting small project gets finished. My recent obsession? Housewares!

The first time I saw a little crochet pot scrubber was my freshman year of college. My neighbor, Stephanie, being the only dorm dweller who bothered to regularly do her dishes (consequently, her room was the only one even remotely pleasant to be in) had a few that her aunt had made her. They worked so well, and were so freaking cute! I took a good look and immediately knew the circle pattern used, so I could replicate it in its entirety.

But what the hell was it made out of?

Six years later, I find out during a visit with Mike’s family. After a quick call from his mom to his Aunt Nancy, who I will henceforth refer to as “Greatest of All Mike’s and at Least Five Other People’s Aunts of All Time”, I was informed that it was plain nylon netting. Thanks, GAMLFOPAAT! I owe you one!

Obviously, I immediately went straight to the store to buy netting. Except I had no idea what netting was. It’s not sold in the yarn section of the store, and that’s the only section I’m familiar with. (Well, that and the kid section that I peruse under the guise of looking for good stuff to do with Olive except I really just want to look because those boxed craft sets look really, really fun…) It took me awhile to figure out what netting even was, let alone where to find it.

Turns out, it’s a fabric, which means I had to go to the sewing people’s section of the store. This sent me into immediate palpitations. Perhaps I am overly dramatic, but there is nothing more painfully terrifying than the fabric section of a craft store. Seriously, that place is horrible. You have to walk through all these stacks of scraps made from god knows what till you pick out the particular god knows what that you need to complete your @$%# if I know. Then, you need to tell someone else how much of it you need and have them cut it for you, which is just an utter joy when you have never in your life bought fabric, have no idea exactly what you’re supposed to be doing with it when you get it home anyway, and are pretty sure you’re going to have to cut it into two inch strips but also fairly certain that she’s not going to cut it into those strips for you.

So the lady could probably tell, as I meekly approached her and requested she show me the nylon netting, that I had absolutely no idea where I was or how I would ever find myself back to my safe section of the craft store again. “How many yards?” she asked. I had no idea, so I used an even number, “Two?” I asked. And I went home, with two yards of two different colors of things that I sincerely hoped were netting.

Anyway, I got it home, cut it into strips (which was a freaking feat in and of itself) and very quickly made this guy: Photobucket
Since he was replacing a sponge and I have a really big stash of cotton yarn, I gave him a softer, gentler side: Photobucket

I LOVE this scrubbie! It works as well, if not better, than a sponge, and will scrub the crap out of your pots. They will not know what hit them! Plus, when it starts to smell weird, and it will, you just pop it in the washer and *tada* good as new!

Of course, seeing my cotton in its various colors and forms made me really excited about my kitchen all of a sudden. You see, dear readers, my kitchen looks like this: Photobucket
It’s really, really beige. And that’s not just one corner, that’s the color of my entire kitchen. And I have to cook in there.

So I made that bright green scrubbie, and this potholder! Photobucket
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It’s double sided, super duper thick (since it’s done in tapestry crochet), and HUUUUUGE. Photobucket

Officially, I made it that big so I could also use it as a trivet. Truthfully, I didn’t put it up to an existing potholder and just assumed it should be bigger than my hand.

Perhaps I should post the chart for that soon? It’s pretty easy.

Oh, and it hangs! Photobucket

And that’s how I defeated the fabric section of a craft store, and my beige kitchen of doom.

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Spring!

Ok guys, don’t freak out, but about a week ago it was eighty outside.

Now, I know fear swelled up in your heart when you read those words as that information means that those adorable little hats I just told you about all have to be shelved and our heads completely bare. I get it guys, I’m pretty bummed about it too. Seriously though, I’ve got us covered, and if you just stay calm and try not to panic, we’ll get through this unfortunate warm snap in both a stylish and adorable manner.

I’ve been working on a circular baby blanket for a baby to be (look out for updates June 2011!) and it’s been the absolute bane of my existence. I needed a break, and was concerned with the warming taking place across the globe lately, and its effect on my and Olive’s headwear. So I made these!

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And might I just say that I can do ANYTHING with a glue gun.

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Cute little barrettes! A perfect solution to the serious lack of hats, and just look how lovely they look on our model.

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You might notice that he looks mad. That’s because he is! Before I put barrettes in his hair and made him pose for pictures, he had been doing this:

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Yes, that is a video game controller.

Anyway, that’s what I have this week. I think with these adorable additions to our head wear we can make it out of this heatwave alive and adorably adorned even without our beloved winter hats. Stay adorable guys!

Note: If you want any, seriously just let me know. They take literally ten minutes to make and I have a huuuuuge yarn stash.

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