Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Ode to Vinegar

OK, it's not really an "ode."  I gave up writing bad poetry years ago.

But I do have an almost abnormal love for vinegar.  Besides being a super cheap cleaning alternative, and tons of fun when you throw some baking soda into it, I love the taste of it.  No, I don't drink it out of the jug.  I do realize that would be crazy.

When I was pregnant the last two times, I was obsessed with any vinegar-y food.  I had to have fries for lunch every day, just so I could justify eating ketchup by the bowl.  I craved it.  It's the only real craving I ever had.  I still love it, but it's not that bad anymore.  In fact, I hardly touch ketchup anymore.  But mustard, banana peppers, salt & vinegar chips.... love it.

Anyway, I made something for dinner tonight that was just about the most perfect food ever.  There are two recipes that I had found recently and wanted to try:

The Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes

Salt & Vinegar Broiled Fingerling Potatoes

Now, usually, I'm not adventurous in the kitchen.  I take a recipe and follow it to a T.  But I just couldn't stop thinking that I could combine these two.  The S&V dish requires you to boil your potatoes in vinegar.  So why  not make the Crash Potatoes, but boil the potatoes in vinegar?  So I did it.  Much to my children's dismay.  The house still smells pretty vinegar-y.  Sorry, kids.

But after that, I followed the Crash Potato recipe.  

Holy moly.  If you like salt & vinegar potato chips, you will love these.  I know no one else here will eat it, so I may never get the chance to make it again.  Which is pure tragedy, let me tell you.  

It was so good.

Anyway, on to a different topic....

I have made a decision.  I'm not going to try to sell my sock monkey hat patterns.  Instead, I'm going to post them here, for free.  In fact, I think next week will be known as Sock Monkey Week!  Which is pretty much the coolest week you can ever have, really.  

We will have the Original Sock Monkey..... The Sassy Sock Monkey.... The Punk Monkey.... The Pirate Monkey.... and to round out the week, I might come up with a new monkey.  We'll see if I can brainstorm something.  So be sure to stay tuned.

I don't care what the calendar says...


... Summer officially starts on Memorial Day.  Not June 20something.  It was a toasty 90 degrees here in Arkansas yesterday.  I really don't like that high of a number, but I'm determined to spend as much time outdoors as I can this summer.  I intend to overdose on Vitamin D by the start of school in August.  I've made a list of supplies we need for summer... including water bottles, a picnic blanket, sunscreen.  All to be kept in a bag ready to go every day when I get home from work.  I am not going to spend 10 weeks sitting on the couch, watching Spongebob and listening to the girls beg for snacks.  It's just not happening.

Since the man was working today (he doesn't get holidays off unless they just so happen to fall on his usual days off) and we didn't make any plans with the family, the girls and I decided to venture out to the park.  The begged for the rocket park, and it wasn't busy, so that's where we went. 

What is she so excited about?

Climbing up there.

Freaks ME out.   But it's nothing, Mother. 

Poor Dodo
Poor Littlest Bug.  She kept getting left behind.

It's sooooo hot.  (Better get used to it, girls.)

The girls lasted about 30 minutes.  Normally I'm the one wilting away first, but they beat me to it and started asking to go to the store.  They don't care what store.  They just love going to the store.  Basically anywhere with AC that might have something that they can talk me into buying for them.

And I know this is a day late, but all of us in our little house give thanks to everyone who laid down their life to give us the freedom we take for granted most other days of the year.

Happy Memorial Day
Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

Now that Babette is finished, I'm itching to start on another afghan.   This one will be for Zoe and I tried to get her to help me pick out a pattern, but she pretty much wanted everything.  I wanted some kind of flower granny square.  I had two in particular that I had decided that I would make test squares of and then decide from there.

The first one is a little daisy granny, which was almost exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted a yellow and white daisy with a colored background.  I love the look of colorful flowers on white, but I just don't think I would handle it very well if the girls spilled stuff on it.  Anyway, this is the inspiration:

The other idea was the Fantasy Garden afghan from the book I have.  I did not really love the afghan in the book, especially the color scheme, but I felt it had potential.  =) 

So I crocheted up a square of each to see which I liked better, if I liked either one.  Here is what I came  up with:

Decisions, decisions
Daisy on the left, Fantasy Garden on the right

The Daisy square is cute, but it's really small.  About 3".  Which means about 280 squares to make a 42"x48"  afghan.  Eek.  I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  Granted, they take like no time to work up, but still.  It's intimidating. 

Overall, I like the Fantasy Garden better.  Instead of a solid color flower in the center, I made the first row in yellow and the next two in white.  It looks so much better to me that way.  I even messed up and made 13 petals instead of 12, and was able to make it work.  It's about 5.5"... almost 4 of the other squares. 

I showed them to Zoe to get her opinion and when she saw the Fantasy Garden square, she gasped and proclaimed it "perpect!"

Test - Fantasy Garden
So Fantasy Garden it is.

I'm tempted to do it all pink, but I'll be so sick of pink when I'm done.  And having 3 little girls, it's best not to get sick of  pink.  I found some pretty light blue and light green today.  Maybe get some lavender...  Oh, the decisions never end...

But first, I must concentrate on sock monkeys!

Punky Monkey

My first new sock monkey variation is complete... the Punky Monkey.  Pretty much just a sock monkey hat with a mohawk instead of a pompom on top.  I would have gone more punkish with it, but this might be a gift and I'm not sure they'd really be into that.

Punky Monkey
It looks like she's making chicken arms, but they're actually monkey arms.

Normally, I make mohawks with super bulky yarn and tie it directly to the hat.  However, I did not have any super bulky red yarn and when I started tying worsted weight on, I realized very quickly it wouldn't look right.  I thought and thought and finally decided I would learn loop stitch to make the mohawk.  Then I learned that I hold my yarn way differently than any of the tutorials I found online and I had to adapt it to my weirdo way of doing things.  It took me a while to get the hang of it, but once I did, it was kind of fun.  I need to work on longer loops, but it works fine here.

Punkey Monkey - side view

I also tried stuffing the mouth this time.  The way I make the mouth lends quite well to poofing it out like that, so it made me very happy.  I also made the mouth one peice... before I've made a tan mouth with a smaller red one sewn on top.  I like it as just one piece better.  It's more true to a real sock monkey... and that's what I'm going for.  A lot of sock monkey hats don't look very sock monkey-ish to me.  And I'm very dedicated to being as true a real sock monkey as possible.  I don't even like sock monkeys made out of socks other than Rockford Red Heels.  I can't help it, I'm a sock monkey purist.  ;)  I also did the ears differently.  I hate making ears and what I tried this time was so much easier.  They could stand to be just a tad bigger, but that's OK.

Punky Monkey
She's an angry monkey.

I'm very happy with my Punky Monkey.  Next will be the Pirate Monkey.  I might have two versions of that itself.  The twins that are getting these hats are having a pirate themed party, so I'm thinking maybe two different Pirate Monkeys are in order.  Stay tuned....

Tutorial for Basic Sock Monkey here

Tutorial for Mowhawk variation here and here

Shamelessly self-promoting here:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Guess what I finished....

Need a hint?

Babette detail

Yes.  That's Babette.  1.5 skeins of white, 1.5 skeins of light gray, 2+ skeins of gray, and 2.5 skeins of black.  She's lumpy and imperfect and I love every stitch of her.  Hopefully I've learned enough making her to make my next afghan much nicer. 

Finished Babette

I checked my project details on Ravelry, and I finished this 5 months to the day after I finished it.  


I'm so ready to start a new afghan now.  I can't quite decide on a pattern yet, but it will be for Zoe.  She doesn't have a twin-sized quilt from my sister yet, so I thought I'd start with her.  Babette is mine though.  All mine.  Ok, I'll share her just a little, I guess...

Babette fans

Friday, May 27, 2011

I heart Sock Monkeys

 I love sock monkeys.  I love sock monkey hats.  I've made a ton of them.  I sell two different versions of them in my Zibbet shop.  I bought a pattern for the first one and have modified it considerably to make it the way I like it.  Kind of like this, but it's evolved from here even:

The mouth is different now... more sock-like.

I have made a few different variations on the whole idea, too.  One is super cute...

She's my Sassy Sock Monkey

And one is really creepy...  Can you imagine someone knocking over a liquor store in this? 

It was for my brother-in-law.  He doesn't knock over liquor stores.  That I know of, anyway.

And one was just kind of disturbing.  I was going to make several of them for our Mud Run team and wanted them to each be different.  I stopped after this one:
Yeah, it has legs and a tail.

I got kind of sick of making sock monkey hats for a while (any hats for that matter) but I saw a picture of a pirate sock monkey hat on Pinterest and I'm inspired again.  My cousin's twins are turning 5 next month and I think I'm going to make them sock monkey hats for their birthday.  A pirate and a punk rocker (mashing together my mohawk hat with a sock monkey... ).

I was also thinking about posting patterns for my hats.  The Sassy Sock Monkey is all mine, but the original is a super modified version of someone else's pattern.  How modified does it need to be for me to call it my own?  And I'm not sure if I want to actually sell them or if I should post them as free patterns.  I don't think I've ever seen a free sock monkey hat pattern (surely if I had I wouldn't have paid for one).  I guess I'll stew about it while I'm working on the Pirate and the Punk.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I have nothing crafty to show.  Babette and I watched TV tonight.  I'm sooooo close to finishing all the squares for the last section.  I need more yarn to finish her, though.  I must make a trip to Hobby Lobby soon, I guess.  I'm having withdrawals anyway.  It's been weeks.  What?  I'm trying to be good.

I just spent 15 minutes deleting strange blurry pictures off of my phone.  My 3 year old has figured out how to turn the camera on.  I feel somewhat dumbfounded that my 3 year old can work my phone.  Kids these days are just too smart. 

I'm brainstorming tonight.  The in-laws all live way out of state, and we have 2 nieces and a nephew in NY.  It's become a bit of a tradition for me to make something to send them each summer since we don't get to visit hardly ever.  They're 9, 10, and 11.  I could make the girls some fun skirts, but it's too difficult to make something much more complicated without good measurements or someone their size to try it on.  And I'm always clueless about the boy.  I'm always clueless about any boy, any age.  I have girls.  I have only sisters.  Even my cousins my age are all girls.  I have always had a serious lack of exposure to testosterone.  Little boys are a little easier.  Trucks, dinosaurs, monsters.  But an 11 year old?  What do 11 year old boys do?  We'll see what suggestions my sister-in-law comes up with.

I seem to have created a new workout routine the past two days.  The girls rediscovered their wagon.  Yesterday, they were pulling each other up and down the driveway and I decided to get off of the swing and pull them myself.  They begged me to take them down the road, so I did.  Wow.  I didn't realize how hilly our road is until I was dragging 120 lbs behind me.  They loved it though.  Each one of them came up to me and said "Thank you for taking us for a walk, Mommy."  So when they asked this afternoon to do it again, how could I say no?  We explored a few more streets in the neighborhood, found more hills.  The kids still weigh about 120 lbs collectively.  Whew.  They tell me where to turn, critique everyone's yard (boy, they are their father's children), ask me if I'm OK when I'm practically crawling up the hills, and beg me not to take them home just yet.  It's fun, though.  I'm sure we'll be putting a lot of miles on that wagon this summer. 

And, because I hate to leave without a picture, here are a few pics from our picnic on Saturday....

 This was actually before we ever got there.  Sleepy little Dodo.
 My muddy little tomboy.

And, of course, Miss Sassypants

Monday, May 23, 2011

I can't believe I'm going to say this...

I am so ready for summer.

I'm not really a summer kind of person.  I hate, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart, being hot.  I was born and raised here in Arkansas and you would think I'd be used to it by now, but I can't handle it.  I don't really care for being cold, but I'll take it over 90* any day.  The sun wears me out.  I can remember being little and my mom telling my older sister not to keep me outside too long in the heat because she was afraid I'd get heat stroke.  Our AC was out at work today and I was the most miserable and whiny person.  Maintenance brought over some fans and I commandeered one to blow right on me and no one else.  No one complained.  It shut me up.

I hated summers when I was in school.  I actually enjoyed going to school (nerd), and we lived out in the boonies and I didn't have anyone but my sisters to play with during the summer.  Who wants to play with their sister?  Well, I like them now, but growing up, that was torture.


Spring sucks this year.  It's usually my favorite season, but Mother Nature is just on my list this year.  Winter was never-ending and then we got teased with a few days of nice weather, just to be cold again for a week.  The pretty spring colors seemed to come and go in about a week... very disappointing.  It seems like every time we have a storm move through, it's the worst storm we've seen in decades.  I spent the better part of a week staying up late looking at a radar on the computer.  I don't get paid as much as a meteorologist, I'm sure, so that's just not cool.  We've had floods and tornados and I'm just done with Spring this year.  Just go away.

On top of that, we are having the never-ending school year.  I think this was supposed to be our last week of school, originally.  Now we're going until June 9th.  Ugh!  It's normal for a few days to be tacked on for snow days, but they missed more than usual this year.  And then they just added two more days because they had to shut the schools down due to flooding.  I told you, Mother Nature and I are not on good terms.  Aside from postponing any fun summer plans I might come up with, it prolongs the afternoons spent sitting in the car-rider line waiting for Olivia while Isabelle and Zoe try to kill each other out of boredom.  Can I sign Olivia up to ride the bus for the last 12 days of school, please?  (That would be a big NO from ex-bus mechanic Daddy)

So, I'm just chomping at the bit, ready for summer now.  I'm ready to come home from work, stuff some kids in the van (hopefully I'll grab my own), and have picnic dinners, play at the water park, get overdosed on Vitamin D, and just have fun.  Maybe Mother Nature will even repent for her past sins by giving us a mild summer and spare me the heat stroke.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  I think she might be feeling sorry.... I found this in my flower bed today...

ready to explode

Don't ask me what they are, we planted several things and then we ended up just scattering a wildflower mix everywhere so I don't even know what to weed and what is actually going to bloom.  It's my first try at a flower bed ever, and I really don't know a pansy from a morning glory, so it'll be a surprise!  It looks like it all about to just explode in there, several little buds waiting to get big enough to open up, so I'm going to get a nice dose of Summer color soon.  Take that Spring.  Who needs you?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Impromptu Fashion Show

I have a ton of bandanas.  I don't have a thing for bandanas, I don't collect them, yet I have a whole bunch of them.  Some of them I bought when a friend of mine was trying to get me to sell bandana dresses at the Memphis Flea Market.  Some of them I bought to make a rainbow dress that never materialized.  They've just piled up in my stash. 

Since it's summer, I thought it was time to throw together some quick little bandana projects.  Zoe had on her pink bandana dress today and I got inspired.  I want to sew, but I don't want to really think about it much and there's no hemming or seam finishing involved.

The girls were invading my bedroom earlier and I pulled out my pile of bandanas and they started telling me what they wanted me to do with them and wanting me to put them on their heads.  Eventually they each had a little outfit on made up of tied-together bandanas.  They wanted a fashion show.  So I got my camera and obliged. 

Forgive the sad quality of the shots.... the girls broke my ceiling fan light so all I had was my flash and a lamp and a teensy bit of daylight left. 

First up we have Miss Olivia, sporting a pink bandana head wrap, orange top, and a funky mis-matched skirt made out of a blue floral bandana and a green traditional bandana.


Next is Miss Isabelle, excuse me... Miss Greenie.  She is decked out in a blue head wrap, blue floral bandana, and a purple gingham print bandana skirt.


The always sweet Miss Zoe is showing off a beautifully colored star bandana skirt, red bandana top, and yellow bandana head wrap.


Let's hear it for our always fashionable, always adorable models!


Tonight some skirts are going to be made out of their outfits.  I'll try to get some pictures for some quick, simple tutorials.

Three and a half years

Girls by Silvertears1275
Girls, a photo by Silvertears1275 on Flickr.

I have probably a hundred photos of my kids together (probably more), but every time I try, they never really cooperate. Someone isn't looking, or acting goofy, or something.

I saw a photo on Pinterest... if you are on there, you've seen it too, I'm sure. It's three little girls wrapped up in a pretty green sheet. I've been in love with it since I first saw it and I was determined to imitate it. And I did.

I didn't intend for it to be such a tight shot, but I took it about 6 times, and every time, the sheet had slid down Isabelle, showing more than I wanted to show. So I decided to just crop it, because I am not a photoshopper and couldn't fix it any other way. I still love it. It will be on my wall as soon as I can order it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I have a thing for....

.... stick men.

It all started back in high school when my friends and I decorated my room in pipe cleaner chenille stick (they were called pipe cleaners back in the stone ages, OK?) stick men.  I carried some to college with me.  I had one that lived on the mini-blinds.  The maintenance man knocked him out of the window one day when he was fixing our AC and we had a funeral for him.  The stick man.  Not the maintenance man.

This is what I'm talking about.

I don't know exactly what it is about stick men that makes me so happy.  I just think they're adorable.  So much so that about a year and a half ago, I got this:

Sorry if the fresh tattoo redness grosses you out... I've never gotten another pic.  Kind of hard to photograph the back of your own neck.

I get asked all the time what it means.... I say "Believe and Happiness."  Then they ask what the stick man means.  It just is a stick man.  No hidden meaning, no inside joke.  It's just a stick man.

I reconnected with one of my old high school friends about a year ago and she had sent me a bunch of crafty stuff that I won in a contest on her blog, so I decided to make her a present.  She was one of my stick man makers, so I wanted something to remind her of the good ol' days.  This is what I made (I made 4 of them - three for her and her kids and one for me):

Wow.. I didn't notice how out of focus this was until I went to post it.

A stuffed stick man.  I made it out of some fake fur fabric - to give it the feel of a giant pipe cleaner chenille stick.   Pain. in. the. behind.  I can't believe I made 4 of them.  I doubt I'll ever make any more, even though I still have quite a bit of the fur left over.  Come to think of it, it might make a really fun little skirt for the girls.  And a pillow.  I bought way too much fake fur.

Now, do you remember this picture I posted a while back... a little preview of something I was working on?

sneak peak

Can you see where we're going now?

I'm pretty excited.

Let me introduce you to my new friend:

Amigurumi Stick Man!

I really wanted to do the head differently, but I couldn't really figure out how to make a circle like I wanted.  Maybe I'll figure it out, maybe I'll just leave him a bubble -head like he is.  He's pretty darn awesome, if you ask me.
BFFs =)

I'm going to write up the pattern for him if I can decipher my notes and make another one.  Olivia has asked for a pink one, which would make for better pictures for a tutorial.  Black is my absolute least favorite color to do amigurumi with... mostly because I need a lamp in my little corner... so I'll be happy to oblige her.   So, stay tuned!


Today was the year-end Family Picnic for Zoe's class at Mother's Day Out.  It's a couple of hours of sunshine, games, water-fun, sand, and all other sorts of fun.


Zoe jumped around from activity to activity until she discovered the water colors.


She found a stamp and started to paint it.


She was very meticulous about it, too.  It's not that surprising... she can sit down with crayons and a coloring book and be content for hours. 


It's rare treat to just sit back and observe just one of my kids for any length of time.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Joyous Square aka Cross-eyed Square

It's pretty obvious just looking at the picture in the book that this is not going to be some mindless project that you can do in your sleep.  It's tagged as an "Intermediate" pattern.  I'm going to say that it's not hard at all... once you figure out what you are doing.  The pattern is a beast to read.  You're crossing over rounds and the technical directions are crazy.  As you go on, the directions for each seem to get longer and longer and it's really easy to get lost.  It's just so detailed.  The first 4 rounds are easy.  Round 5 is where you go cross-eyed, which, since you are making a cross is kind of appropriate.  But then you get to Round 8 and it's easy-peasy again.  Here is my finished square:

joyous square test
Not loving the color combo here.

I would probably stick with the colors in the pattern, myself.  But I was just using what I had.... and it was Caron Simply Soft instead of the suggested Red Heart.  The only issue with that was that the chains I made for the green X in the middle were too long... they're pulled tight from the back for the picture, but I would have to adjust the length of the chain if I were to use Caron for the real afghan.  It never says how big your finished square should be, just the first 2 rows.  But the finished afghan is supposed to be 48" wide with 5 squares across, so I'm going to go with approximately 9 inches.  My square is 7", using thinner yarn and smaller hook.  It took me about 2 hours, total.

I would say that it's a pretty intimidating pattern jumping in, but once you get the hang of what's going on, you could probably do it in your sleep after the first few squares.  But it's impressive-looking, for sure. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Upside down frown

My kids woke me up at 3am this morning.  It's not been a good day.  At one point at work, I looked at my coworker and said "I think everything is out to tick me off today."  Only not so PG.  But I got home and had about 20 minutes to take a catnap before rounding up the kiddos (I have to go home to switch out vehicles), and little dozing naps are like the best sleep ever. 

When I got Zoe, her teacher had made her a little yearbook.  It was a-dor-a-ble.  Especially the last two pages.

I love this even if she thinks I look like a monkey
I guess looking like a monkey is OK as long as I'm pretty as everything =)

Jingle Bells.  ROFL
It was a good thing the van was in park when I read this.

I am in a far, far better mood now.  My kids are simply awesome.  Except at 3am.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ooooh, it's so pretty!

I got a little bored watching Little Bear with the girls before bedtime, so I thought I'd try out a square on one of the afghans I want to make.  I picked the Rose Lattice afghan because it only called for three colors and I really wanted to try it out since I couldn't find a finished project anywhere online.  It calls for a roll stitch, and it took a few stitches for me to get the hang of it.  It took me about 2 hours to complete, but that's with a few interruptions and figuring out the pattern as I went.  It's an "Experienced" level, so I'm pretty proud of myself.  There were a few parts where I was like "huh?" but when I worked it, it made perfect sense.  That's pretty normal with me and patterns though. 

The pattern was written for Red Heart... I used Caron Simply Soft, which is a slightly thinner yarn (but still considered worsted...) and it called for an I hook, which I replaced with a G hook because it was handy, so obviously my gauge was way off.  My square turned out 6.5" where it should have been 8", but I was just playing around, so it's not big deal.  I probably wouldn't use Caron Simply Soft for a full afghan... it tends to split alot (surely I'm not the only one who has that problem) which is a pain with the roll stitch.

Rose Lattice Square
ooooooh..... ahhhhhhhhh

I am in love with this square.  It's going to stay up on my wall for a while.  I don't think I would do the actual afghan in white like that, but it's tempting.  I love the lattice work on the corners and I really like the center.  Now that I have the roll stitch down, the next one will be more uniform.  I will definitely use this pattern to make something, if not a full afghan.

I'm going to make test squares of all 4 of the patterns I'm considering before I commit.  I might make Joyous Squares next.  I need to see if I have enough coordinating colors to make it look right.


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