Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When I first found out that Deanna was having a baby girl (and even before their nursery had been decorated top to bottom in nursery rhyme and vintage toy decor), I knew that THIS was the afghan that I wanted to make for baby Lexi

Deanna is quite the accomplished gardener, and these "pretty maids all in a row" just seemed to fit the bill for her baby girl.

The free crochet pattern can be found at Crochet Mary Ellen's or Ravelry. I used the pattern for the 12" square and made nine of them using Vanna's Choice yarn in Soft Pink, Pink Poodle, and Berrylicious.

I joined the squares using the method described in the free tutorial found at Carina's Craft Blog or Ravelry. And I finished with another row of Raspberry and a picot border in Radiant Lime:

Round 1: Hdc around the entire blanket working 3 hdc into each corner stitch. If changing yarn colors for picot, cut yarn and weave in ends. 

Round 2: Continue with this pattern or join second color yarn using a slip stitch:  *sc in the next three stitches, ch 3, hdc in the first chain* around. Cut yarn and weave in ends.

To complete the set, I added a sweater and a hat, both sized for 6 months, as new moms are often deluged with newborn and 3-month size clothing when babies are first born.

The free crochet pattern for the hat can be found at Red Heart or Ravelry

Rather than using the flower with the hat pattern, I used another pattern that looked similar to the flower on the afghan. That free pattern can be found at B. Hooked Crochet or Ravelry

I added two leaves to the flower with Radiant Lime from this free pattern that can be found at Red Heart.

The free crochet pattern for the sweater can be found at the Moogly Blog or Ravelry. The only modifications I made to the sweater were to stop the sleeve repeats after the first row to make it a cap sleeved sweater.

I added more vintage buttons from my stash that I acquired last December for my Christmas tree garland project. If I had to guess, I would say these buttons are probably circa 1950s.

And this 6-month set should tide Miss Lexi over until I see her again in the fall!

Angel Wings and Espadrilles

Saturday, July 19, 2014

If you've been following the blog for a while, I'm sure you know that the newest addition to the family is baby Lexi. Well, I certainly couldn't let this occasion pass without seeing what I could whip up with my trusty crochet hook, so I set off to find some patterns that might fit the bill. This is one set that we gave her recently.

The dress is a free pattern called Angel Wings Pinafore. You can find it at Bev's Country Cottage or at Ravelry. The original pattern is written as a traditional pinafore with a slit up the back. I only made two changes to the pattern. I joined at round 7 and continue working the pattern in the round to create a dress, and I added the same pattern repeat around the arm openings. 

I finished this piece with a vintage brass button from the vintage button stash that I acquired last December for my crocheted Christmas tree garland project. A crown button for a little princess is pretty perfect wouldn't you say?

The espadrilles are actually a modified Mary Jane pattern. The pattern that I originally modified is no longer available for sale, but the way in which I modified the pattern to make it look like an espadrille should work for any Mary Jane pattern. 

If you have a Mary Jane pattern that you've used before and like, begin with that. If not, this free pattern can be found at Tampa Bay Crochet and Ravelry and looks similar to the one that I used.

I modified the pattern that I used in the following ways. First, start with a tan colored yarn to create the sole of the shoe. Use two strands of yarn to create a thicker sole. Slip stitch around sole before finishing off. 

Join white yarn in slip stitch row and finish the remainder of the shoe. Rather than crocheting a strap as specified, slip stitch around to the back of the shoe, and single crochet three stitches in the center back of the shoe for nine rows. Finish off and leave a long tail of yarn. Fold down the strip this creates and use the long tail of yarn to sew the top of the strip to the base, creating a loop. Weave in all ends. 

Cut a piece of white grosgrain ribbon that is long enough to fit around the baby's ankle and tie into a bow. Use a yarn needle to pull the grosgrain ribbon through the loop. Tie the grosgrain ribbon in a bow as shown below. Repeat for other shoe.

And one final piece for this set was a diaper cover. I used this free pattern from Crotiques and Ravelry.  

I added ribbon to the top because, quite frankly, I have no idea whether these would actually stay on a baby without something to hold them up! ;-) This photo also shows an overhead view of the shoes and the construction of the loop described above.

My Week in Pictures: July 18, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Another Friday, another "My Week in Pictures".  This summer sure is flying by.  You've heard the saying- the days are long, but the years are fast.  Oh my, it sure is true.  We are loving our first summer with baby Lexi.  Here is how we spent this past week. 

Friday nights are date nights for us.  They always have been.  Of course, our "dates" now include this sweet little girl, and we were so glad to introduce her to our favorite Mexican restaurant for the first time last Friday night.  We know the owners and most of the staff there, and they were all stopping by one by one to meet our little Lex.  It was a fun time, and Lexi did great. 

After dinner, it was a stroll through Downtown Franklin, and a stop for ice cream. 

The weekend brought a visit to the Farmer's Market.  You can see below how busy it was.  It's always that way.  You have to get there when they open to casually stroll it anymore, and that's just not gonna happen, so we braved the crowds in search of corn and melons. 

I instantly spied these lovelies for sale, and got all excited thinking of how pretty they would look in the kitchen.  That is until John reminded me that we wouldn't be home for a while, and they probably wouldn't make it for hours in the hot car.  Alas, my dreams were dashed...  But they sure were pretty. 

No worries though.  I found my melon, and the corn, as well as some good looking summer squash. 

We also bought homemade pasta at the farmers market, and cooked it up later in the weekend.  We added our own homemade pasta sauce using the peppers and tomatoes from my garden.  And our focaccia bread finished out this wonderful meal. 

In other news, it would seem that we live at Walmart these days, hunting for a never ending supply of diapers and formula.  Honestly, they do have the best prices, so I suck it up and go, even though I would rather do almost anything else.  In any case, I left Little Miss with John while I hunted for a couple of things, and came back to find this.  Apparently, she started fussing so John proudly found her a soft place to chill out.  Although I was horrified to see that she was apparently reduced to a mere $2.65 while I was shopping.  I snapped her right up before someone else tried to cash in on that deal. 

In Izzie news, she got her hair did this week.  Isn't she lovely?

Babydoll has been sleeping through the night for almost a month now.  It's amazing and wonderful.  We are so lucky.  She's just such an easy baby.  She will fall asleep on her own if you leave her in her crib, or in your arms if you rock her a little.  I think she inherited my love for sleep.  

And the weather has been unseasonably comfortable here all week.  We took advantage of it, and ate pizza out on the patio at the Mellow Mushroom last night in Downtown Franklin.

The band played "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" from the square as John snapped this photo.  Lexi was having so much fun, she decided to stick her tongue out!  Love that girl!!

So that's what we've been up to this week.  And here we are looking ahead to another fun-filled weekend.  Hope your's is looking good too!  Enjoy!

Focaccia Bread

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

This recipe for Focaccia bread comes straight from Tuscany.  We learned how to make it when we were there last summer; it was one of our favorites then, and still is today.    It is a traditional Italian flatbread.  Give it a try.  You won't be disappointed, I promise!!

Focaccia Bread
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2/3 cup warm water
2/3 cup warm milk
16 oz all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

  1. Proof yeast in warm water (approx 100-110 degrees F).  Mix together with the rest of the ingredients.  Knead dough until smooth.  Put a little olive oil in a bowl, and roll your dough in it to coat evenly. 
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, drape with a clean dish cloth and set aside in a warm location (70-80 degrees F).  Let rise for 1 1/2 hours. 
  3. When doubled in size, punch down and spread out on a well oiled (olive oil) cookie sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap and towel and let rise again for about 30 minutes. 
  4. Poke dimples all over the top of the dough, then drizzle with up to 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Top with course sea salt and desired toppings including: dried olives, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, parmesan cheese, sundried or freshly sliced tomatoes. 
  5. Bake for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
For this recipe, we used 8 oz bread flour and 8 oz all purpose flour, but we have made it both ways with success. 

We topped our bread with olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh sliced tomatoes, and sea salt.  However you choose to top your bread, don't omit the olive oil and sea salt.  It is what makes this recipe so special!

For a crispy bottom, bake your bread on the lowest shelf in your oven.  

Nutella Banana Swirl Bread

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This is another tried and true recipe that will help you use up all of those finicky bananas that seem to go bad before you've had a chance to eat them! And, hey, it's got Nutella in it, so what's not to like?

Nutella Banana Swirl Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 bananas)
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup Nutella

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, milk, and vanilla. Beat mixture until blended.
  4. Add flour mixture. Beat at low speed until flour is incorporated, making sure not to over mix.
  5. Spoon Nutella into a small dish and heat in microwave for 15 seconds. Add 1 cup of batter to the Nutella and stir until incorporated.
  6. Spoon 1/2 of batter into prepared pan, followed by 1/2 of Nutella batter, and repeat. Swirl batters together with a knife.
  7. Bake 60 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool for at least another 10 minutes.
The Nutella swirls in the bread may seem slightly "gooey" in the center, but I've found that cooking it longer than stated above makes for a drier bread.

This bread is delicious as is, but if you are a "slatherer," you might want to try frosting your slice of bread with a little more Nutella or even peanut butter.

Superhero Crazy Hair DIY

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I purchased some colored hairspray last year after Halloween on clearance. I thought it might be fun for the boys to try for Spirit Week "Crazy Hair Days."

Well, lo and behold, Jaxon decided that he wanted to also use them this summer at his soccer games. No big deal to me - it certainly made him a lot easier to pick out on the soccer field when the players are all dressed alike, they're all the same height, and they're all running around like crazies. ;-)

Our conversation started like this approximately five minutes before we were scheduled to leave for a game:

Me: So, what do you want, Jaxon? 
Jaxon: I want Captain America!
Me: Ok, so some red, blue, and silver?
Jaxon: No, I want the shield!
Me: [silence] [silence] Hmmm. That's going to take some doing. Can we do that next week?
Jaxon: OK!

I had bought myself a week to figure this out. But you can create this look with this handy tutorial:

Sturdy paper
Craft punches (3.5 inch, 2.5 inch)
Colored hairspray (red, silver, blue)
Hair gel

First, you'll need some sturdy paper. I dug around in the recycle bin until I found a direct mail piece that looked pretty sturdy. I think a cereal box would work nicely too.

Next, you'll need to practice drawing your pattern. Whatever you're drawing will be the part that you cut out and will form the hole that you spray the colored hairspray through. Because this should be a fun and quick project, I recommend picking symmetrical objects. Thankfully, Captain America's shield is made of circles and a star (all symmetrical). I will give directions for how to recreate this look, but these directions can be used to create other looks, as you'll see in my Spiderman example below.

I started by drawing a star that was about the size that I wanted to use on the paper.

Because a star is symmetrical, I then folded the paper vertically on its axis.

And cut around the half that was showing. After unfolding the paper, you'll see how unsymmetrical your original drawing was, BUT the star that you cut out will be symmetrical, and that's what matters!

Now, Captain America's shield is made of a few concentric circles with a star in the middle. So, I actually used this first star as a practice star to make sure I could cut a straight one (it was too big for my circle punch holes). I also left off the last two circles to simplify the design. 

To cut the circles, I used two craft punches: a 2.5 inch and a 3.5 inch. You'll need to cut one, 3.5 inch circle and save the "hole" (labeled red in the photo below).

You'll need to cut two, 2.5 inch circles. The pieces you'll need to save from these are one "hole" (labeled blue in the photo below), one intact circle (shown below inside the 3.5 inch hole), and the other circle, which you will need to draw and cut a star out of the center of using the directions above (shown below sprayed silver). Remember when cutting a star out of the center of the circle to not cut all the way to the edges, or you will cut away the part that you actually need! 

Directions for Using the Templates to Create the Captain America Shield
  1. Use your non-dominant hand to hold both the 3.5 inch hole and the intact 2.5 inch circle as shown above against your child's head. Make sure to center the 2.5 inch circle inside the 3.5 inch hole. Spray with red hairspray, remove the templates, and allow to dry. (You may need to reposition your non-dominant hand while spraying so as not to cover your hand in red hairspray. If so, make sure to realign your templates before spraying again.) This will leave a red ring with a blank space of hair for you to spray blue in the step below.
  2. Then place the 2.5 inch hole template (labeled blue above) over the blank space of hair. Spray with blue hairspray, remove the template and allow to dry thoroughly. You will have a red ring with a blue circle inside.
  3. Finally place the circle with star template over the blue circle you just sprayed. Carefully spray with silver hairspray. (Make sure not to overspray the edge of the template.)
  4. Finish by creating a faux hawk with hair gel and spraying it with coordinating colors. 

Here's what the shield looked like after a half of soccer play:

And here's Aidyn at that same game. He opted for just a few simple stars from our practice template:

And remember our talk about symmetry and Spiderman? Here's Jaxon sporting a hand drawn Spiderman logo (which also happens to be symmetrical, so simple enough to draw and cut using our method described above):

And since these colors happen to be patriotic, we also added some red, white, and blue to the boys' hair for the Fourth of July. We topped the designs off with a star on the backs of their heads. When we ate lunch at the local Jason's Deli, the manager was so impressed with their schmancy hairdos, that he paraded the boys around to the staff and gave them free cookies!

So, these templated hair designs clearly has their benefits! Let us know if you give this method a try. It has certainly been a hit for us this summer!

My Week in Pictures: July 11, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy Friday, Everyone!  It's that time again- time for another "My Week in Pictures", so let's get started. 

This week began with a wonderfully long holiday weekend.  We spent it in Southern Indiana with John's parents.  Here we are on the 4th posing for a family picture.  This was actually someone's house.  They decked it all out for the holiday so we "borrowed" their front porch to grab a few pics.  :)

As you can see, Lexi was passed out here.  We were out riding on the golf cart, and she just went out like a light.  Hmmm, I'm thinking we need our own golf cart now.  There is just something about riding around in that fresh air that really seems to agree with her.  

When Lexi decided to wake, we jumped on the opportunity to take a few festive photos of her.  Here she is in Grammie and P-pa's decked out wagon.  

And we couldn't leave out our other baby.  Here is Izzie getting in on the action.  

And since they were both being so agreeable, we got a few pictures of the girls together.  Ahhh, babies and puppies- does the heart good.  

And Little Miss got a special treat last weekend.  She got to sleep in her daddy's old crib all weekend long.  John's parents hung onto it all these years, and now the grandkids get to use it when they come to visit.  You can see below who got as close as she could without hopping in herself.  Although, I'm sure she would have, but mercifully, she didn't figure out how. 

We spent a little time doing some window shopping.  This little book caught my eye.  Has anyone read it before?  It claims to be an international bestseller...

We also seem to have perfected our margarita recipe.  Here's our bartender hard at work.  Actually, there wasn't a lot of work involved here.  This margarita machine pretty much does everything for you but slice the limes.  Good thing it belongs to John's mom.  Otherwise, we might be making up a batch every night!

And in other news, it would seem that our garden decided to flood us with a bounty of veggies this week.  This was my first harvest early in the week.  I have since plucked a ton more tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.  I think we are going to have to work on a few recipes this weekend to use some of it up.  I have already had a tomato sandwich for lunch every day this week, and I'm not even making a dent.  

And to leave you with a daily dose of cuteness, here is our little cutie patootie hamming it up for the camera.  We found that little vintage bonnet last weekend at an antique shop, and snapped it up.  Of course, I immediately tried it on and it fit!  Looks like Mommy was a little happier with that bonnet than Baby was.  In any case, she's just so dang adorable.

So that's it for this week.  We have a HOT, HOT, HOT weekend ahead, with no concrete plans.  I'm thinking spending some time at home in the AC sounds good to me.  I hope your weekend is full of fun and relaxation- just the way they are meant to be.