Cherish Yesterday...Dream Tomorrow...Live Today

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bearded Hats and Chicken Taco Pizza

Hi everyone and happy almost New Year!  I love the new year because I can envision a clean slate on which to imagine myself doing everything I should be doing or all the things I always wanted to do.  Maybe one of these years I can make those things a reality-at least a few of them!

I want to begin this post by sharing a project I am pretty proud of.  I am a novice to crochet and I managed to take info from several places on the internet and make 7 of these beards.  My sons have the greatest group of buddies.  My husband and I feel fortunate that they are such good kids.  They tend to hang out in my husband's shop several nights a week watching movies and playing games.  They call themselves "bros" because they have been friends since grade school and are as close as brothers.  I wanted to make them official bro hats and I loved these lumberjack looking bearded hats I saw on various crochet blogs.  I didn't have time(or the skill) to make 7 hats too so I cheated and bought seven basic Winter hats at Target for a little over $3 a piece to start.  Then I bought 2 big skeins of basic dark brown yarn and a 9mm"N" crochet hook.  I had to fiddle with how many to chain on for a men's size because I saw alot of info for kids hats on line but I came up with chaining 24 loosely with two strands of yarn.  I had to keep my tension loose because I tend to knit and crochet pretty tightly.  The whole thing is done in half double crochet so you just do that for the first row then you chain 2 and turn.  Go into the second stitch and 1/2 dc 8 stitches then chain 4 for the mouth opening.  Skip 4 stitches on your project and continue 1/2 dc until the end.  The next row is all normal until you get to that chain 4,  then yo just 1/2 dc 4 times into the opening and finish the row like normal.  Now you taper off at each end by doing the first and last 2 stitches differently.  You yarn over and go into the first stitch you would normally do, but then you pick up the next stitch, yarn over again and go through all 4.  This may not make sense because I am not a true crocheter(is that a word?)  Maybe I should just say decrease each row at both ends the way you would normally.  I think they turned out cute and the whole gang of bros liked them.  I hear they keep your face really warn while shovelling snow!  We have gotten quite a bit of that lately!

     Here is my youngest son Christmas morning trying on a shirt he got for Christmas and being a good sport to model his bro hat.  I am amazed I got them all done in time for Christmas Eve but I am very happy I came up with the idea. 

On to a yummy idea my husband had.  Christmas Eve we usually have hot and hearty appetizers for the four of us.  We watch a Christmas movie or two and play games.  It is a very special tradition we enjoy.  This year, while discussing what we wanted to have, my husband came up with this pizza idea-chicken taco pizza.  I started with a Boboli pizza crust.  I mixed mild taco sauce and Ragu pizza sauce and spread that on the crust.  In a large frying pan, I heated the shredded breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, water and taco seasoning mix.  I cooked it until the water and seasoning mix really coated the chicken and became thick and bubbly.  I put the chicken all over the crust and sprinkled shredded Mexican blend cheese over the chicken.  I baked it according to the Boboli instructions.  Meanwhile, we chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce to put on top.  My oldest doesn't care for lettuce or tomatoes so we let everyone put on their own but you could pile that stuff on when the pizza comes out of the oven.  We served it with taco sauce and sour cream.  It was fantastic.  We will definitely have that again!  We also had Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip and we played Clue and Uno and Mario Cart on the Wii.  It was a great Christmas Eve.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  I can't believe how fast this vacation has gone.  I am not even close to being ready to go back to work this week!  Have a safe and happy New Year and take care.  I will talk to you next year!   Nancy    

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Last Minute Christmas Projects and Cookies!

Hi everyone and happy Sunday.  I have been very busy these past few days doing my last few handmade projects for Christmas.  I made this felt Ninja lip balm holder for my great niece as a package tie on for her gift.  I think it turned out cute.  She can attach it to her backpack and it will go everywhere with her.  I love that you can personalize it by choosing felt colors the little girl likes.  Riley likes pink and purple.  I found the pattern and instructions in the new magazine Make it Yourself .  It is a Better Homes and Gardens publication.  There are a lot of great projects in the magazine.  It was a first issue. 
I also made a loyalty card wallet to put a gift card in as a gift.  These loyalty card wallets are fun to make and easy. I just thought it was way nicer to present a gift card this way instead of just keeping it in that cardboard card they come in.  This way it's two gifts in one!

I wanted to share my favorite traditional Christmas Spritz cookie recipe.  I have made these every year since I was on my own.  My Mom made them every year when I was growing up.  They are so delicious and festive too.  Cream 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup softened real butter.  Add 3/4 cup sugar and 1 egg.  Blend and add 2 1/4 cup sifted flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon almond extract and green food coloring.  Blend until a fairly stiff batter comes together.  Fill a cookie press fitted with a tree disc.  Form the trees on an ungreased cookie sheet, decorate with colored sugars and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack.  I use the old-fashioned metal Mirro press my Mom got me as a Christmas gift my first Christmas in my apartment at 18 years of age.  It was just like hers and I love it.  It brings back such memories.  Traditions are my favorite part of the holidays. 

  I haven't shared a picture of Mickey in a while so I thought I would throw this one in!  She was sprawled over my husband's lap as he sat and talked to me in my craft room.  Don't you love her Christmas collar?  She was sound asleep and when I was about to snap this picture, she awoke just enough to give me a dirty look for disturbing her!  Here she is, five years old, and she acts like a kitten with the Christmas tree.  We can't put the skirt under the tree because she runs and bunches it up under the tree.  We got tired of fixing it.  She is also chewing on the tree(and it is an artificial one!) and makes it move when she hides under it.  Hopefully she won't tip it over. 

I wanted to thank all of you who dropped me a line hoping I was feeling better.  I am feeling better, thank you.  I am working on a fun project for some of my son's friends.  It involves crochet and it is a lot of fun-more on that later.  Well, have a wonderful week and take care.   Nancy   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ornament Swap and Some Amazing Sweets

 Hi everyone.  I am officially struggling with yet another upper respiratory infection, a severe one, or so the Urgent Care doctor said.  So, I am benched from going to work for the next two days.  I have lost my voice due to the lovely tickle cough making my throat raw so I am being picked on by the men in my house.  They are calling me "squeeky" and asking me to repeat things as they snicker.  I am trying to hold on to my sense of humor.  So far, so good! 

On to my crafty adventure of the week.  I joined an ornament swap hosted by the Natural Nester sisters.  My partner is an avid runner.  I asked her what she collects and she said running shoes!   We could either make or buy an ornament.  I felt it was important to make one so I set out to make a running shoe.  You know how I am without a pattern.  I stressed about it a little and then I got a photo-like picture off the web of a good running shoe.  I was trying to figure how to translate that into felt when a friend suggested I use a clip art picture instead.  That worked out much better-thanks Nicole!  So I was off and running-no pun intended!  I think it turned out kind of cute.  I used pinking shears for the tread and embroidery floss for the laces.  I lightly stuffed it with fiberfill and sewed everything by hand.  I hope she likes it.  It was fun when I headed in the right direction. 

I don't know if I mentioned that I found out recently that I am allergic to chocolate.  It really upsets my stomach so I stopped eating it.  It has been several months.  I went for a check up and my doctor mentioned that I had lost weight and he wanted to know if it was intentional.  I kind of thought about it and said it must be the chocolate and explained it to him.  Well, I better keep the stuff you see above out of my house or I will be gaining weight and will have some explaining to do!  That amazing stuff in the jars is crock pot dulce de leche from Your Homebased Mom.  She mentions that you will probably eat it by the spoon right out of the jar and she was tragically right!  It is amazing.  I made the three jars as a trial run because I want to give some as gift add ons for Christmas.   I think I should make a disclaimer and put it with the jars to warn the people who I give the jars to so they will be aware of the danger!  It really is that good.  Seriously there are recipes to make with it, mine just never made it that far! 
My husband enjoys using my Babycakes appliances from time to time to make some goodies.  He recently made maple-glazed donuts  from Making Memories.  They were awesome.  My maple extract is way darker than the extract used in the original recipe.  It almost looks chocolate.  I think we made way too much frosting but better too much than not enough!  I am a frosting girl for sure. 
I have asked for the cupcake maker from Babycakes for Christmas.  I have liked all the other Babycakes makers I have so I am sure the cupcake one should be fun.  It is like the Easy bake oven for grown-ups!  I LOVED my Easy bake oven when I was little.  I used it every weekend! 
I hope everyone has a great week.  Are you finished with your shopping?  I am almost done.  I have a few things to make yet and I have get togethers starting this week to exchange gifts.  I also have to come up with what to make for Christmas Eve here with my own family and what to bring for my husband's family gathering Christmas day.  We usually have elaborate appetizers and hot dips Christmas Eve.  I'm thinking homemade pizza and chicken wing dip.  Stay healthy and take care. Nancy

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Handmade Gift Exchange and Cooking with Leftover Pumpkin

Happy Sunday everyone.  December is here and now time will literally fly until Christmas.  My mother always used to say that the older she got time just flew by, and as a youngster thinking Christmas would never get here, I didn't really believe her.  Now I do!   

I participated in Craftaholics Anonymous's Handmade Gift Exchange for the third year and had alot of fun making my partners gifts.  I asked what the colors of her dining room were and I made her a really cool 4 fat quarter apron.   I enjoyed making this and will probably make myself one when things die down after the holidays.  You know what a collector of fat quarters I am!

 I also made her a loyalty card wallet because I loved mine so much.  I really loved the fabric I used for this.  Mostly it came from a charm pack I won in a giveaway from my Friday Night Sew In and I also threw in scraps from fat quarters.  I finished it by using my machine to embroider her name on a ribbon so it is uniquely hers. 
I enjoy doing this gift swap.  It is alot of fun trying to really make something personalized toward your partner. 

Now onto my leftover pumpkin dilemma.  I bought a ginormous can of pure pumpkin this year.  I am not sure why except to say that in years past all of my local stores sold out before Thanksgiving and I had to use the preseasoned pumpkin pie filling.  Anyway, I decided to make the Impossible Pumpkin pie this year from Bisquick.  That left me with some serious pumpkin left.  I hate to waste food and, besides that my husband loves pumpkin so I set out to find other recipes to use it up.  Here we go...

We have the pumpkin cream cheese braid.  It was delicious and amazing.  I like to have breakfast for dinner once a week so I really fancy it up and make sure I have either a coffee cake or danish to go with the savory foods.  This was perfect.  It was gobbled up very fast! 

I also made pumpkin muffins.  They were super easy and I ate them for breakfast for a couple of days as well as the fact they served as our bread course for Thanksgiving dinner.  Blend 1/2 cup pumpkin, 1/2 cup milk and 1 egg with a fork in a bowl.  Stir in 2 cups Bisquick, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ginger until just moistened.  Fill 12 muffin cups 2/3 full and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  By the way, please don't judge the amount of spread on them in the picture.  That is I Can't Believe it's not Butter- not the real thing!

Last, but definitely not least, is my pumpkin pudding.  You won't believe how easy this is.  Combine in a large bowl: 1 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 small package instant vanilla pudding and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.  Whisk all the ingredients until thickened.  Stir in 1 cup pumpkin.  Chill and eat.  It is amazing.  It seems like it would be much more complicated but it is easy. 

We put up our Christmas decorations yesterday and I discovered some areas lacking so I am going to start working on making what I need to fill the gaps.  I could use some real Christmas tree skirts on a couple of my small trees that have fabric puddled at the base.  Also, I need to make two place mats for my kitchen table.  I have a couple of contenders so I better decide and get going!  I hope everyone has a great week.  Take care.               Nancy