Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Hazy Shade of Winter



Time, time, time, see what's become of me 
While I looked around 
For my possibilities 
I was so hard to please 
But look around, leaves are brown 
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter 
-Simon & Garfunkle

This certainly has been a bizarre winter ... even I can tell and I'm a Floridian! One week it's freezing ... the next it's in the 60's even 70's and the week after that it's snowing! Even yesterday it was raining and in the 60's and today it was snowing! If anyone still doubts global warming ... Anyway, these photos were taken earlier this month while the weather was going through one of it's more mild temperaments and my little family went for a walk and some Saturday morning brunch. 

 So neat to see ice branches! 

 Taken outside a neat old building in downtown Whitesburg KY. We only live about a mile from downtown so we like to walk when we can.
 Local Bed and Breakfast

  Lovely Downtown Whitesburg!

 New Public Art!

 Mimosa! Yay for Brunch! 

Our town recently got a new bakery, "Here Comes the Bun." They specialize in cupcakes, donuts and sandwiches. Everything I have eaten here has been delicious! It's owned by 3 young entrepreneurs who are working their tails off so that it succeeds! Hats off to them!
 MMMMMM ... Chocolate Chocolate Cupcake ....

It was a nice little Saturday.
January was a good month. 
My little Baby turned 6 months old and had his first taste of "solid" food. I can tell already he is going to be a chow hound! Looking forward to making his baby food at home ... such an interesting new chapter ... but on the other hand we only have 6 more months of baby! Bittersweet ... 


Thirty



On January 19th I turned 30.  The last decade was pretty incredible. I traveled all over the world from Peru to Ethiopia to Samoa. I graduated college with a degree in Anthropology. I was able to practice archaeology. I met my best friends. I met my husband. I dedicated a year to helping my sister overcome bone cancer. I had a baby. Of course loads more happened but those are the highlights and they are pretty awesome.

Overall I am content. I live in sweet little home nestled in the back of a little hollow surrounded by little mountains with trees and little creatures. I have a husband I love. I have a beautiful and perfect little baby boy who I am fortunate to stay home with and smother with kisses. I am surrounded by interesting people in an interesting community with a variety of interesting things always going on. I am living a life I never saw for myself and it is nice.

 I do get frustrated with living in such a “rural” part of the country at times. No bookstores, no coffee shops, no craft stores, and only 5 restaurants. This may sound silly but you never realize how much you miss these things until they are gone. Most of the time this doesn't bother me, but occasionally I wish I could do something as simple as take a crochet class without needing to drive 1 ½ f hours to the nearest yarn shop or just go get some coffee and sit in a little cafĂ© with my son. Every now and then I catch myself celebrating mediocrity.  So it goes.

Most of all this year on my birthday I missed my friends and family. They live 14 hours away. The older I get the closer I want to be to them. The harder it becomes to form close friendships with new people. What can you do? Here I am, 30. 
The View of the Back of our Hollow
I did have a very nice and quiet weekend celebrating my birthday with my Husband and Son. We went back to Abingdon, Virginia. It snowed a couple days before but the sky was clear when we drove over. The sun was out and all the snow was glittering ... so beautiful! I love sunny snowy days. I had a FANTASTIC time and did everything I hoped to do that day. 

We started out at the local coffee shop Zazzy'Z, a must for me when I'm in Abingdon. After some yummy coffee and a breakfast sandwich we hit the yarn shop! Well, by "we" I mean Me. Q and E went off to have an adventure of their own.  This was my second visit to A Likely Yarn. The lovely Delita and Cassie were kind enough to knit/crochet with me for a couple hours. I was heavenly! I would probably stop in every Saturday if I lived even a little closer! 

After the yarn shop we were ready to eat. We went to a local farm to table restaurant called the Harvest Table. It was in a neat building with a little store attached. Even the bread was made on site. Love! After lunch we made our way to the cupcake store downtown. I chose three flavors: Wedding Cake, Chocolate with Chocolate Ganache, and my all time FAVORITE Chocolate with Peanut Butter icing. 

After a little window shopping we went to the local brewery Wolf Hills Brewery. I got the sampler ... YUMMMMMM. My favorite was their Dunkel Weiss.  We didn't stay long at the brewery  because the heat was out and poor little Ernie was turning into a popsicle!


Dinner time was at the awesome Bella's Pizza, I chose a white pizza after a recommendation from Cassie from the yarn shop - it was sooo delicous and hit the spot after the beer I had earlier. Finally we made our way to our hotel and settled in for the night. 

Q surprised me with my birthday gift. I am such a kid! Some people get jewelry for their 30th birthday ... not me! Video game, Legos, and a TARDIS mug were just what I wanted! Q even topped it off with a bag of Reese's (my favorite candy). I was surprised  by his thoughtfulness, especially after my purchases at the yarn shop. 

The next day we woke up and had an amazing brunch at the Wild Flour Bakery. This was seriously good. I can't wait to eat here again! 

The weekend was capped off with my birthday cake. Q baked the cake and made the vanilla icing from scratch. I decorated it, which was fun! I am completely obsessed with Dr. Who so I decided I wanted a TARDIS cake. The local bakery in our town wouldn't make it, so I did my best to create it! It turned out pretty good ... not a lot of detail and the color is off ... but pretty good considering Ernie was NOT pleased with my attentions being turned away from him while I was trying to decorate. It tasted great!

Well, that's about it for my birthday post! I have one more thing to show you ... my favorite present from my wonderful loving Mother - a Yarn BOX! It's so wonderful ... I totally LOVE IT! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Crocheted Ewok!

     One of my biggest New Years resolutions this year was to really start trying to selling my creations. I have always been hesitant to really put myself out there, as many of you other crafters can identify with, I wasn't sure if what I was creating was "good" enough. Well, after a lot of pushing from friends and family, and some success at small festivals, I have decided to go for it! I mean if I LOVE my stuff other folks most likely will right?

     Well, I have been wanting to try my hand at few "Star Wars" inspired toys for awhile now but needed a little push. A friend of mine and local southeastern Kentucky photographer of Lind Multimedia, asked if I would mind crocheting an Ewok for her son's birthday. He is a huge Star Wars fan and such a sweet little boy, how could I really say no? Besides, this was my first customer of the new year! Hooray!

     This was the first "Large" crocheted toy I have ever made and I am officially HOOKED! I have been making small/medium toys for over a year now, so I felt pretty comfortable creating one on a larger scale. I had the BEST time making this little Ewok. I already have several orders for more! I am also currently working on the pattern that I plan on selling at my soon to exist Etsy shop (along with the finished product). I'm hoping to have a number of things ready when I begin my shop so I will keep you all posted when I do! I'm aiming for sometime in February!

Anyway .... here he is in all his splendor!
 This little Ewok is pretty soft and very very snuggly! His "furry" face, ears and tummy are nice and fluffy! You can see his ruffly belly! 
 Relaxing here in his native habitat ... the forest!
                         His hat is removable, so I wanted to share a few shots of the Ewok in the buff!

I can't really express how much fun it was making this guy ... He was very, Very, VERY difficult to part with! I can attest to his cuddle factor as I caught myself snuggling him like a teddy bear more than once!
I do have several more to make so I'll be seeing some of his brothers and sisters soon!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Simple Mangosteen Crochet Pattern



A Mangosteen is a type of fruit I first tasted in Southeast Asia. It seems to have received a lot of attention the past decade as an ingredient in “health” drinks and supplements. I can’t say how true the claims that mangosteen is “good” for your health, but it is a fruit and it is delicious so it’s got that going for it.  There is a pretty comprehensive website about mangosteens if you want to learn more. www.mangosteen.com

I was fortunate enough to travel as a teenager with my Father, a botanist, to Southeast Asia. Those trips were some of the most influential in my life and are what drove me to pursue a degree in Anthropology and continued world travel my whole life. The mangosteen is one of my favorite fruits ever! It is so delicious! They have made their way into Asian and even some Hispanic grocery markets here in the U.S. I usually find them in refrigerated department. I have even spotted mangosteen at the Whole Foods store! Of course, the ones you get the in store don’t really compare to those you can by in the fruit markets of Southeast Asia, but can’t that be said for most store bought tropical fruit?

Well, my father and I have always shared our love for mangosteen, and he has a birthday coming up - so I thought I would whip him up a crocheted Mangosteen! The pattern below is very simple, but the stem may be a bit tricky for beginners.

 

Materials:
  • Worsted weight yarn – purples (body) & greens (stem) – I went with very bright purple and green … obviously not the most realistic of colors – but hey – it’s a crocheted fruit – give me a break! Anyway, any colors you pick in those families will do just nicely. 
  • Hook - G/4.00mm
  • Stitch Maker (I like to use safety pins)
  • Fiber filling (I use polyfil)
  • Needle for stitching and darning

Stitches & Techniques you need to know:
  • Magic Ring
  • Crocheting in Continuous Rounds (Amigurumi style)
  • Slip Stitch  (SLST)
  • Single Crochet (SC)
  • Half Double Crochet (HDC)
  • Double Crochet (DC)
  • Single Crochet 2 Together (SC2TOG)
  • Repeat Between **

THE BODY:

USING YOUR PURPLE YARN MAKE MAGIC CIRCLE, THEN CH1

ROUND 1: SC 6 INTO CIRCLE, PULL TIGHT

ROUND 2: SC 2 IN EACH SC (you are now crocheting in the round, you do not need to slip stitch in the first stitch from the first round – you simply start the next round in that stitch, get it?) Use your stitch marker after you have made your first SC so you know where your next round will begin. 
ROUND 3: *SC 2 IN FIRST SC, THEN SC IN NEXT*
ROUND 4: *SC 2 IN FIRST SC, THEN SC IN NEXT 2*
ROUND 5: *SC 2 IN FIRST SC, THEN SC IN NEXT 3*
ROUND 6: *SC 2 IN FIRST SC, THEN SC IN NEXT 4*
ROUND 7: *SC 2 IN FIRST SC, THEN SC IN NEXT 5*
ROUND 8: *SC 2 IN FIRST SC, THEN SC IN NEXT 6*
ROUND 9-12: SC IN EACH STITCH
ROUND 13: *SC2TOG, SC IN 6*
ROUND 14: *SC2TOG, SC IN 5*
ROUND 15: *SC2TOG, SC IN 4*
ROUND 16: *SC2TOG, SC IN 3*
ROUND 17: *SC2TOG, SC IN 2*
ROUND 18: SC2TO, SC*
ROUND 19: SC2TOG
FINISHING THE BODY: LEAVE A LONG TAIL!!! THREAD THROUGH REMAINING STITCHES AND PULL TIGHT. WITH THE REMAINING TAIL PUSH YOUR NEEDLE THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE BODY UP THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE FIRST ROUND (SMALL HOLE). PULL THE YARN TIGHT SO IT CREATES A SORT OF INDENTION IN THE BOTTOM OF THE BODY. THIS WILL ALLOW THE FRUIT TO SIT FLATLY ON A SURFACE AND NOT TOPPLE OVER. WHEN FINISHED TIE OFF AND WEAVE IN ENDS.

STEM:
MAKE MAGIC CIRCLE, CH 1
ROUND1: CROCHET 4 SC LOOSELY IN MAGIC RING, PULL RIGHT TIGHT
ROUND2-4: SC IN EACH SC
ROUND 5: CROCHET THROUGH FRONT LOOP ONLY!
YOU ARE NOW MAKING THE "PETALS" AT THE BASE OF THE STEM. EACH OF THE 4 SC WILL BECOME A “PETAL."

IN FIRST SC: SLST, HDC, DC, DC, HDC, SC
IN SECOND SC: SLST, HDC, DC, DC, HDC, SC                  
IN THIRD SC: SLST, HDC, DC, DC, HDC, SC
IN FOURTH SC: SLST, HDC, DC, DC, HDC, SC – SLST IN THE FIRST PETAL AND TIGHT OFF … LEAVE LONG TAIL FOR SEWING.
FINISHING THE STEM: SEW THE STEM TO THE TOP OF THE BODY. WITH THE REMAINING GREEN THREAD PUSH YOUR NEEDLE DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE  FRUIT AND EMBROIDER A LITTLE BOTTOM.

VIOLA!

Hope you found my pattern easy! It shouldn't take very long to make one of these. What I like about this pattern is that it can be a base for so many other types of things! You are pretty much making a ball for the body. Change the colors and you could make a tomato, pumpkin ...etc. 

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions at all, I would also love to see your finished mangosteen if you have one to share! 

** I will add that I hope to make another Mangosteen that has been opened to show off the white pulpy deliciousness that is inside! **



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Crafting!

I am always a little happy and a little sad when Christmastime is over. This past December was one of the busiest (and best) Christmases I have ever had! We were here, there, and everywhere! Which made my plan to make all my gifts a bit of challenge... Mainly because I learned a very valuable lesson about handmade gifts, START EARLY! I was crafting my little fingers to the bone leading up to the last minute and still didn't get a chance to make all the things I was hoping for! I was able to snap a few photos of some of the gifts before I wrapped them … all crocheted of course! I apologize for the quality of a few of the photos, they were taken in a bit of a frenzy before wrapping - not my best work! Still, I wanted to do a little show and tell!

 

Left to Right: Granny Coasters, Decorated Frame, Holly Pins

Bloom Flower Pillow 


These are just a few of the gifts I made this year! You can see the craziness bordering this photo! Ha! I also made a stack of scarves and my first pair of mittens ever. The mittens turned out great, I'm really sad I didn't photograph them, but I'm planning on making them again. I had so much fun making gifts, I'm hoping to instill a tradition of handmade gift giving in my family. 

As always I have my little assistant! 





Noel!

Well, I'm back! December was a CRAZY month! It was also a wonderful month for my little family. We were able to visit family in both Florida and Ohio and celebrate Christmas! I had a great time in both places! I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun with BOTH our families, it was really wonderful. Good for the soul really. Plus Baby just makes life so much richer.
Florida Family Tree
Ohio Family Tree

     Since we were travelling so much this season we kept our Christmas decor simple here in the Enchanted Holler, just some lights wrapped around a tomato cage from our summer garden.   Both our families decorate their homes from from wall to wall so we had plenty of spirit and cheer everywhere we went. I absolutely love Christmastime! We were all so spoiled this year, especially Ernie, what a lucky bunch we are!
Cattle in the snow ... such a lovely sight! 

My little slice of heaven ... rocking by the fire with my sweet  little  baby.