Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gondor Hoodie!

We are seeing the midnight showing of the Hobbit next week, and I am stoked! I’m too pregnant to really dress up, but I surprised my hubby with this:

I made a stencil of the tree and used fabric paint on a regular old hoodie from Wal-mart. Feel that LOTR spirit!

Stencil Blanks (Michaels or Hobby Lobby)
Exacto Knife
White Fabric Paint (Michaels or Hobby Lobby)
Temporary Spray Adhesive (Walmart)
Plain Green Zip-up ($10 at Walmart!)
Sponge Brush
Thin Paint Brush

The first thing I did was print out the Tree of Gondor on a regular sheet of paper. I used the template found here, courtesy of Alley Cat Scratch. I taped the stencil blank over that. Make sure to tape it in several places so it stays secure.

Then using a mix of the scissors and exacto knife I cut out the tree. Keep in mind that what you want is a stencil. If you’re going to mess up or cut too far, do so on the inside of the tree, not the outside. You want that white “negative space” to be as pristine as possible.

Done! Just going to warn you right now, this took me about two hours to get perfect. Set aside some serious time for this part. The cut on the bottom root was purposeful in order to get my scissors in. If you do that, tape it shut when you start to paint.

Make sure to wash your hoodie beforehand. They put some sort of anti-stain chemical on new clothes that will hinder the fabric paint. I washed mine twice just in case.

You want to use the spray adhesive to temporarily attach the stencil to the sweater, so it doesn't move around too much and the paint has a harder time getting up underneath. The kind of adhesive I had can be permanent or temporary. I followed the instructions for temporary, which was to spray a light coat on the back of the stencil then wait about 4 minutes.

I’ve never stenciled onto clothes before so I got an old t-shirt to practice on. If this is your first time stenciling clothes I’d suggest you do the same because my first stencil attempt did NOT go so hot. But I practiced on both sides of the shirt and by my second try I had worked out the kinks in my technique.

So anyway, place a piece of cardboard inside the sweater. Apply the spray adhesive to the back of the stencil and wait the 4 minutes to adhere it to the front of the sweater. I used this time to pin the zipper flaps closed with tiny pins. Try to make the sweater, especially the zipper part, lay as flat as possible. Pin it down if you have to. Adhere the stencil onto the center of the sweater, so it is straddling the zipper. It should stick because of the adhesive but go ahead and tape it down too, just in case. Also, put tape on the edges that you want extra protection, like the bottom roots or top star, since they are so close to the edge.

Get a bit of paint on your sponge brush and start dabbing straight up and down. Start light and slowly build up the paint rather than slopping it on. This will lead to less mistakes. Too little paint is easy to fix, too much and it’s game over. Go slow and work in sections. Once you cover all the areas, do another coat starting in the same place you did the first time. Once that is finished, and it seems like the paint is evenly distributed, undo the tape. Do not wait for it to dry to remove the stencil. If you have messed up you want to know while it’s still wet. If it’s still wet it’s moderately fixable with a damp cloth and a lot of friction.

Slowly and carefully peel off the stencil. Work hard not to smudge your work. Give it a once over to make sure the paint hasn’t gone crazy on you or blotched up in weird places. Here is what mine looked like when I pulled the stencil off.

Now for the touch up phase. Using the fabric paint and the thin paint brush go over any areas that need help or extra definement. I also took this opportunity to connect the branches to the trunk since the fold of the zipper flaps prevented this in the stencil phase. 

Now let it sit flat to air dry about 2-4 hours. The fabric paint I used needs to heat set. I’d definitely suggest using a paint that needs to heat set as it lasts longer. After about 2-3 hours of air dry I turned the iron on steam setting. I held the iron about ½ inch above the tree and waited for the paint to texture and “puff up” a bit. The bottle told me to be careful not to over steam. I don’t know what happens when you do, but I assume the paint would look bubbly and over-processed. This part took about a minute.

And you’re done. Hubby is super excited to wear this to the premiere. Here’s hoping baby Aurie waits a little longer for her arrival so we can see it. 38 weeks today!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

IloMilo Pocket Pals Crochet Pattern

These adorable thumb creatures are named Ilo and Milo, they are very pleased to meet you. They are from an amazing puzzle game that I played last year on Xbox 360. If you game at all I’d recommend it. It’s equal parts charming, challenging and adorable. Ilo and Milo are best friends who meet up in the park every day. However, each day the park gets harder to navigate. Maybe it rearranges itself each night or maybe their memory is just not that good. The point of the game is to help them find each other each day so they can be together and drink apple tea.
Last year I went on a trip to Seattle. It was also the first time my husband and I were separated since becoming man and wife so I made pocket sized IloMilo’s for us. I took Ilo to Seattle and left Milo with him. We kept them on us until we were back together and could “reunite” them. Totally sappy but it helped us feel connected while we were apart :)

So without further ado, here is the pattern for the IloMilo Pocket Pals! Each one is about 3 inches tall not counting the antennae. I think they would make cute key chains too. Here is a link to the pattern on Ravelry. 

Pocket IloMilo Amigurumi

Small amount of blue worsted weight yarn
Small amount of red worsted weight yarn
Small amount of tan worsted weight yarn
F Hook - 4.0 mm
E Hook – 3.5 mm
Black craft wire or pipe cleaner
Small amount of stuffing

Body – F Hook (For Milo use blue yarn, for Ilo use red yarn)
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2 sc in each stitch around (12)
R3: 2 sc then 1 sc around (18)
R4 - 11: Sc in each st around (18)
Sl st, finish off and sew in ends

Bottom – F Hook (Blue or red yarn)
Ch 7
R1: Sc in each st starting in 2nd ch from hook (6) ch 1, turn
R2: sc in each st (6) ch 1, turn
Finish off, leave long tail for sewing

Face Panel – E hook (Tan yarn)
Ch 6
R1: Sc in each st starting in 2nd Ch from hook (5) ch 1, turn
R2 – R4: Sc in each st (5) ch 1, turn
Finish off, leave long end to sew onto body

Arms and Legs – E Hook (Tan Yarn) - Make 4 for each
R1: Magic Circle 3
R2: 2sc, sc, 2sc, sc
Sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body. Stuff with the extra yarn from the magic circle.

Putting it together:
Sew on face panel. The bottom of the panel should be about 3 rows from the bottom of the body. Attach safety eyes low on the face panel. Attach arms on sides, about 3-4 rows from the bottom of the body. Now, thread the black craft wire through the bottom panel.

Twist wire around itself to secure.

Pop wire out through top magic circle.

Stuff all around the wire, Trying to keep it in the middle. Don’t over stuff. Whip stitch bottom panel on. Sew on feet. Twist craft wire into a swirl and snip off the excess. Meet your very own Ilo and Milo!

I'm still new to pattern making so if you have any trouble or find any mistakes please email me. Enjoy!

Watching the rainy day together.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicken Soup

This is what I make on chilly nights or when someone has the sniffles. It's  delicious and it only takes about 30 minutes. Here is the base recipe, with my favorite variations posted after. Feel free to change it as you like. Hubby and I eat ours with either rolls or crusty bread. The picture below is the creamy version. I'll post more/better picture as I make the different versions over the coming weeks.

Pro tip: The woman at the bakery said to put the crusty bread in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees right before you slice it. Do this, it is so worth it.

Feel Better Chicken Soup
3 Chicken Breasts - chopped
2 Carrots - chopped
1 Celery - chopped (optional - turns out hubby hates celery, oops)
1/2 Medium Onion - chopped
1 1/2 T Butter
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Basil
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
3 C Chicken Broth
2 T Cooking Wine
1/2 C Rice
Crusty Bread

Melt butter in a big pot, stir in Thyme, Basil, Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper. Add carrots, celery and onion, saute in the butter until the onion starts to get soft. Add chicken, brown on all sides. Once chicken is browned add the 2 T of cooking wine, stir. Add the chicken broth and the rice. Bring to a boil and then simmer until rice is cooked and carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Serve with Sister Shuberts or crusty bread. Yum!

Creamy Version: I take away 1 Cup of broth and add in a can of Cream o' Chicken soup. I also leave out the rice and serve with extra bread instead.

Dumpling Version: Make the creamy version and then drop in small pieces biscuit dough in the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Chicken Noodle Version: Instead of rice use pasta. I use the little pasta stars. I call it "Star Soup". You can find them in the Hispanic section of the grocery store.

Pork-Apple Version: Use floured pork instead of chicken, add in a chopped apple and a touch of cinnamon while sauteing. I also replace a cup of the broth with apple cider. I always crave this one in early fall.

Whatever Version: When you don't have all the ingredients so you throw in whatever you want :) Take out the chicken and add different veggies and this could make a kick-butt vegetable soup.

Sauteing all the things

Note that the bread is soaking up the broth. That means delicious things will be happening around your taste buds.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homemade Japanese Chicken Curry in the Crock Pot. No Flavor Bricks or MSG!

One of my obsessions is Japanese Chicken Curry. It’s thick, creamy and magical. In the Asian section of grocery stores you can buy it in block form. You cook the chicken, potatoes and carrots in water and then melt the bricks in near the end. Buying the bricks is easy and delicious, but there is a downside.

I looked at the nutrition values… Box curry is not that good for you and has an insane amount of sodium and MSG. Therefore, my latest endeavor has been to make curry that tastes just as good without the blocks.

Through experimentation, it is abundantly clear that the best curry powder is S&B curry powder. It is specially made for Japanese curry. I got mine at the Nijiya market in San Francisco. I’m sure you could find it at most Asian markets though, just look in the spices.

Today I tried making it in the crock pot. It turned out wonderful :)

Here is what I did - The full recipe is posted at the bottom

1 lb Chicken Tenderloins, 3 Russet Potatoes, 1 White Onion, 1 C Baby Carrots (I prefer regular carrots but this is what I had on hand), 3 ½ Tb of S&B Curry Powder, 1 Tsp Salt, Pinch of Pepper, Pinch of Cayenne, Pinch of Instant Coffee, Pinch of Cinnamon, 2 Tb Flour, 3 ½ Tb Melted Butter, 1 Tb Katsu Sauce, 2 Tb Cooking Wine, 1 Tb Ketchup, ½ C Unsweetened Apple Sauce, 4 C Chicken Broth -- (Ignore the Worcestershire in the picture, I decided not to add it in the end)

First - Chop up your veggies! I don't cut up my chicken breasts when crock potting but you can chop it if you like. Lay the chicken and veggies in the crock pot, they can wait for a sec while you prepare the sauce. Cover it if you have nosy cats.

Mix your dry sauce ingredients. Curry powder, flour, cayenne, salt, pepper, cinnamon, instant coffee.

Start the broth boiling. Put the dry ingredients in a separate pan and heat on medium till aromatic. Do not overcook!

Add the melted butter, ketchup and katsu sauce.  Stir until it gets kind of crumbly.

Add about 1 Cup of broth to the spice mixture to liquefy it. Once smooth add the rest of the broth. Add in apple sauce and cooking wine. Bring to a boil then simmer until it thickens a bit.  Pour over other crock pot ingredients.

Close, cook on high for 4 1/2 hours.

Voila! Serve with white rice. (I use Jasmine because it’s my favorite) You know you want a bite.

Hubby and I enjoyed our dinner while we watched Return of the King in preparation for The Hobbit coming out in December :)

Homemade Crockpot Japanese Chicken Curry
1 lb Chicken Tenderloins
3 Russet Potatoes
1 White Onion
1 C Baby Carrots (I prefer regular carrots but this is what I had on hand)

For the Sauce:
3 ½ Tb of S&B Curry Powder
1 Tsp Salt
Pinch of Pepper
Pinch of Cayenne
Pinch of Instant Coffee
Pinch of Cinnamon
2 Tb Flour
3 ½ Tb Butter
1 Tb Katsu Sauce (Can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
2 Tb Cooking Wine
1 Tb Ketchup
½ C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
4 C Chicken Broth

Chop potatoes, carrots and onions and place in crock pot. Put chicken on top. For the sauce, boil the broth. In a separate pan combine dry ingredients – Curry Powder, cayenne, coffee, cinnamon, and flour. Heat until aromatic. Add melted butter, ketchup and katsu sauce. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture becomes slightly crumbly. Add in about a cup of the boiling broth and mix until smooth. Now add the rest of the broth and mix. Put in the apple sauce and white wine. Bring back to a boil, then simmer until the sauce thickens up a bit. Pour sauce over the ingredients in the crock pot. You can add in more broth if you want it more saucy (I added about a half cup more broth) just keep in mind that the chicken will release some of its juices as well while it cooks. Put crock pot on high for about 4 ½ hours. Serve over rice!

And just for fun, I'm 28 weeks pregnant! December 19 is coming up fast!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roly Dog Crochet Pattern

Roly Dog Crochet Pattern

I think the Roly Poly Cats pattern by Nina Shimizu found here is super cute, but I wanted a dog version to make for boy babies. I took an evening and worked this pattern out, I like how it turned out. I also put a cat toy inside when I stuffed him so he rattles. :) Made two for both my cousins who had baby boys this year. Here is the link to the pattern on Ravelry:

I used an F hook and worsted weight yarn throughout.

This is worked in rounds, so don't join after each row. Just continue the spiral upwards. (Use a stitch marker if needed)

Eye Spot - Color B:

R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body

Head - Color A
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3:(sc 1, 2sc in next sc) around (18)
R4: (sc 2, 2sc in next sc) around (24)
R5: (sc 3, 2sc in next sc) around (30)
R6: (sc 4, 2sc in next sc) around(36)
R7: (sc 5, 2sc in next sc) around (42)
R8-15: Sc in each st around (42)
R16: (sc 5, sc2tog) around (36)
R17: (sc 4, sc2tog) around (30)
R18: (sc 3, sc2tog) around (24) - This is where I attached the eyes and started to fill with stuffing. I also added a cat toy as a rattle in the center. *Note* Make sure the safety eye goes through the Eye Spot before attaching to the head.
R19: (sc 2, sc2tog) repeat (18)
R20: (sc 1, sc2tog) around (12)
R21: Sc2tog around (6st) Cut yarn and sew up hole.

Nose - Color A:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3: 2sc, sc 5, 2sc, sc 5 (14)
R4: Sc each st around
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body, stuff
I used black yarn and a yarn needle to make a big black spot here for the nose.

Feet (4) - Color A:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3: In BLO sc in each st around (12)
R4-5: Working both loops from now on sc each st around (12)
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body, stuff

Ears (2) Color B:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2: 2sc in each st around (12)
R3-12: sc each st around (12)
R13: sc 6, leaving 6 unworked
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body. The ears are tubes but flatten them out so they are more like dog ears. Don't stuff this part!

Tail - Color B:
R1: 6 sc in magic ring
R2-4: sc each st around (6)
sl st, finish off, leave long end to sew onto body
Sew it all together, you can use my picture for help with placement. Also I've never written out a pattern before so I apologize in advance for any mistakes. Email me if you find any :)

How to Soften Red Heart Super Saver Yarn

*Please note!* if you are crocheting/knitting for hospitals or preemie babies this may not be a good method. They prefer no product has been used on yarn of donated hospital items.

This week I crocheted a Nyan Cat themed lovey for my impending baby. Unfortunately, trying to make something rainbow takes a lot of colors, and buying all 7 ROYGBIV plus the grey, pink and tan is a lot of yarn money. I bought Red Heart Super Saver thinking it couldn't be THAT bad.

I worked up the blanket part and it is bad - it would be scratchy and coarse for a baby at least. After getting depressed and dramatically declaring that my cute blankey idea was a failure (hey im pregnant, it happens) my husband suggested I look for ways to soften the yarn and save my project. At least someone was using their brain haha.

After a day or so of research and experimentation the blanket actually came out super soft :) It also had wonderful drape which I did not expect. There was much rejoicing. I'm not going to tell you it rivals the expensive high-end yarns but it does come pretty dang close. Now I can save money by buying cheapy yarn and softening them for the projects that require a lot of colors.

Take note that I had already finished the blanket part when I started this process, I don't know if this would work on the yarn itself before it's been worked up.

Step 1: Rinse in cold water

Step 2: Shampoo thoroughly, rinse twice

Step 3: Working in sections, saturate entire piece with hair conditioner

Step 4: Let sit in cool water for over an hour

Step 5: Rinse thoroughly

Step 6: Run it through the lightest wash cycle your washer machine can accomplish. Detergent is ok here as long as it is a small amount

Step 7: Put it in the dryer. You can use dryer sheets if you want. Dry until slightly damp. Take out and lay flat to let air dry the rest of the way.

That's it, you're done! You'll be surprised by how soft and pleasant this yarn can become. I've also heard that the more you wash it, the softer it gets.

I used cheapo shampoo and conditioner because that's what I had on hand, so don't worry if you don't have fancy hair stuff.

Finished product! It turned out bigger than I intended but still very cute. I may post the pattern at some point so keep an eye out if you're interested.

Update: The pattern is now available in my Etsy store for $2.40.

Owl Themed Gender Reveal Party

The moment I found out I was pregnant I planned on doing a reveal party, it's just too cute a concept to pass up. You get to know you are having but still feel surprised. Also, parties!

If you are not familiar with the concept, here is what we did: At the 20 week ultrasound we asked the technician to secretly write down the sex of the baby and seal it in an envelope. Then we made a deal with a local baker to make us a cake that had either blue or pink coloring in the center depending on the gender and gave her the envelope. A few days later we had all our friends over for brunch and hubby and I cut open the cake and we all found out together what we were having. This is just one way of doing it, I have seen people fill pinatas with colored candy or open boxes full of colored balloons. I really want to do the pinata for our next baby.

love planning parties and I love DIY anything so that led to this reveal party that I had way too much fun with. I'd like to say right off the bat that Pinterest is responsible for many of these ideas. If you aren't on Pinterest, you need to be.

The theme was Owls and the colors were Green, Lavender and Brown. The pennants are made from green tissue paper, twine, staples and painted owls I stenciled on with an adorbs stencil I found at Hobby Lobby. 

I crocheted the owl family myself using this pattern by Sarah Zimmerman and Vanna's choice yarns. The pattern's owls are much smaller (the baby in my centerpieces is actually about the size of the daddy in the pattern) so I doubled the sizes. Took me way longer to make two centerpieces than I expected but the result was well worth it.

The "chalk board" is actually just a black poster board. Chalk worked surprising well on it so I just bordered it in burlap ribbon and cute buttons on the corners. The idea was for the guests to mark their vote on the board and then wear the pin showing off their vote. The pins are just ribbons hot glued to safety pins with buttons on the front. The guests loved it and it made for friendly competition. We also put up our top 5 baby names in each category and let people vote for their favorites. The vote winners were Eli and Ashlyn. (Update: We ended up naming her Aurie!)

The party was a brunch so the drinks were milk, OJ and Starbucks Mocha Fraps. Cute glass bottles are surprisingly hard to locate on their own but luckily Starbucks sells their cold fraps in adorable bottles. Costco had a deal this past weekend for $0.88 each - plus they were filled with the mocha fraps we were planning on serving. Score! All we did was peel off the sticker and use a little elbow grease and steel wool and they cleaned up easily. Even the expiration date came off, I didn't expect that. We got the carafes at Target. In retrospect we should have labeled the carafes because everyone thought that the coffee mocha was chocolate milk at first.
Note the purple paper straws because according to Pinterest, you just can't have a classy party without paper straws. :)

Food! Brunch happens to be one of my favorite meals ever. Though I also would like to be a hobbit and do second breakfast, elevensies and tea time.

The menu consisted of hashbrown-egg-ham casserole (cheesy and non-cheesy versions), french toast, bacon skewers, cinnamon rolls and and fruit cups. The fruit is in those plastic wine glasses with removable bottoms, we served the syrup for the french toast on the table in shot glasses. Party City probably thought I was throwing a drinking party. Also the owl stencil returns on the burlap table cloths.

Finally, the cake. The baker did such a good job on this, especially with how thick the frosting was. I printed the Owl pictures out on card stock and hot glued them to the extra straws to bring the theme around. (unfortunately the bakeries that actually do themed cakes were either booked up or ridiculous price-wise)

It's a girl!!! :) So excited. No wonder I'd been craving sweets like crazy!
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