Life is Sweet!

My Mom's been having a really stressful time lately; her mother is very sick, and not showing very much improvement over the last 6 months. So, when she mentioned to me the last time I saw her, that she loved my birthday present to myself - my Betz White inspired cupcake pin cushion; I knew I had to make her one as well.

To make this one extra special I even added some fun ribbon trim, and a cherry on top! It's actually a felted bead, dyed with cherry watermelon Kool-Aid, and a fleece "mint leaf" - but it's all anchored to a silk pin, so it's totally removable, too!

An update on my broken heater - it's not broken anymore! My husband is so handy, he saved us a trip out from the HVAC guy! I guess it was just a valve or switch being flaky... or maybe it was a valve switch... I dunno, and I kinda don't care - because I'm not freezing anymore! LOL


White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Chambord sauce

White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Chambord SauceOh yes, it's as good as it looks and sounds! The only secret, is that it's SUPER easy to make! Seriously, this is the easiest dessert I've ever found for family get-togethers, or when you just want to spoil yourself with a restaurant style confection. The hardest part is pushing the raspberry sauce through a strainer, and I suppose I could've settled for less than every drop of liquid on this step. I'm a little weird, what can I say? LOL

Just another quickie note - normally I'd pour the just-mixed mousse to set up in whatever fancy container I was planning on serving it in (usually individual servings.) This time I let it set up in a different container (ie a bowl,) and tried to make it look smooth after adding it to my glass. As you can see, it doesn't look smooth on the surface, but if you make it right, this is the smoothest, lightest dessert ever!

Since berries are out of season here in Chicago, I'd also recommend serving more hardy fruit with the chocolate mousse, like sliced oranges in a sugar sauce (or Grand Marnier!)

For the mousse, you'll need:

1 2/3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
8 oz fine white chocolate (Lindt is best!)

For quicker results, chill large bowl & beaters in freezer for 30 minutes prior to start. Melt chocolate and 2/3 cup cream in double boiler or microwave. (For microwave, start with 1 minute on high, and add 30 seconds as necessary. Chopping the chocolate will help it melt quicker, as well.) Don't worry about a few tiny lumps, the heat from the rest of the chocolate will smooth everything out. Set aside for 30 minutes. This step is crucial, you may want to rush it, but be patient!

After a half an hour, take bowl & beaters out of freezer & whip remaining 1 cup cream til stiff peaks form. My original recipe calls for beating to soft peaks, but I think the whole thing sets up a little better when you beat just a little more than soft. If you've chilled the metal parts, it should take 3-4 minutes, if you haven't it can take more than 5. When you've achieved slightly stiff peaks, you can add the whipped cream to the cooled chocolate mixture, in 2 additions. The first will seem lumpy, but fold the cream as gently as possible, and the second addition should even things out a bit. Try not to over-mix these two, it'll be a much lighter mousse if it's done properly. Cover & chill, at least 2 hours. Serves 4-6

This recipe will also work with other chocolates, if you're not a fan of white. I've used both milk & dark chocolates with very good results!

For the sauce, you'll need:

2 cups fresh raspberries, washed
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup Chambord (raspberry flavored liquor)
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Puree all ingredients in food processor or blender. Pour through strainer, and discard seeds. Cover & keep in refrigerator. Makes 2 cups

On another, and on a much more horrible note, our heater broke sometime between last night and this morning. Yes, I live in Chicago... and yes it's the middle of winter. Oy. Cross your fingers it's not too long/expensive to fix! It's frickin' freezing at my house today!


Blogger Spotlight - Warm Fuzzies

I'd like to try something new this year, and spotlight other bloggers that I enjoy and admire. Some might not be all that new, there's so many superstars out here in Blogland! LOL I hope you'll find both the new and old fun and inspiring, and I'd love to hear what blogs you love, too!

First up is an amazingly talented friend of mine, Shirley from Warm Fuzzies. Her stuffies are absolutely adorable, and I love the quality of her photography. What I think really sets her apart though, is her stories - and how she writes them.

They're never too sweet for me, (I hate super-sweet all the time, I like balanced sweet.) She puts so much personality into her finished objects, through her words; I really admire her ability, and aspire to it myself! I hope you enjoy perusing her blog, it's filled with fun things to be inspired by, and great tutorials!

I think we've all felt this way about a project or two...
But the evil side of my conscience says, "But he was your first intarsia project, he sings the doom song, *and* he can dance. Plus, he can make bacon soap. And he's pink. Just look at him, he's so comfy on your bed already..." And I snapped. I just had to have him. Shame on me.
No shame, Shirley... we really feel you! (Especially because the second of almost anything I make is just a little bit better! LOL) Maybe not so much about that bacon soap, though.... ha!


Craft: Zine Goodies!

Craft: Zine T-shirt & Button

Craft: Magazine (Vol 1 & 2)
Well, last week I received my issue of Craft: vol 2, as well as a Craft: t-shirt and button! I entered the Etsy Craft: contest, and although I didn't win, the staff of Craft: was nice enough to send all of the participants t-shirts & buttons. (Okay, I photoshopped my button instead of taking another picture - there was glare!) LOL I think I probably should have asked for a medium, though, because it's a fitted tee, and the small looks like it could be a little too small.

Craft: SkirtOh well, maybe one of these days it'll be warm enough to wear my Craft: skirt out, it's been hanging in my closet since August! And I even got around to making a silk slip to go underneath! LOL I can be really lazy to get around to things that might make life a little easier, (like a snow-blower for these Chicago winters!) And organizing my craft room! LOL I'll be the first to admit I can be very stubborn sometimes, but it does come back to bite me in the butt every now and again.

On a totally different note, I'm a little suprised by how happy I am with my new year's crafting. I'm much more satisfied with where I'm at with my Etsy store, and my personal crafting hasn't suffered from neglect as much this year! Yeay! How are your new year's goals/plans going? Those damn resolutions can be so hard to keep up with! :D


WIP Wednesday - Wristlets!

Here's a work in progress shot of my latest wristlets - in multiples! As I mentioned yesterday, I've picked up some really fun ribbons lately, as well as some vibrant cashmere (in quarter yds.) It's a little thicker than I thought originally, but very soft - and such fun colors! Yummy! LOL

Work-in-Progress Wristlets

These will all go into my Etsy store, although I'm a little unsure of pricing. They take a lot more work than my other accessories, but I don't want to price them so high they don't sell. I think pricing my work has been one of the hardest tasks I've tackled in the last year, although I'm far from finished. It seems an ongoing task, especially when I keep coming up with new ideas for products! LOL

At least I'm not alone in my uncertainty, it seems as if it's pretty unknown territory for a lot of sellers. Check out this awesome Whip Up post on Pricing Your Work. Any thoughts on how you price your work? Or about my prices? I'd really love to hear them! I'm just starting to get into a fun groove with all of the work on the store lately, but I'm super excited to see where it'll take me!

Another sneaky tidbit - I'm planning on adding Tree Branch Earrings to my store, but my focus this month has been trying to promote my tsumami kanzashi flower snaps. Look for them towards the end of February, or feel free to contact me for custom designs!


Sneak(er) Peek!

New Puma Sneakers!Hahaha! I made a pun! (I'm know, I'm a little weird! LOL) Anyhoo, I went shoe shopping yesterday, (I had a coupon that expired soon, so I thought I'd use it,) and found the cutest Puma sneakers - on sale! And with my extra 10$ off, they were only 27$! I saw the same shoes with a different accent color for full price of 59.95$, so I was very pleased with myself!

Cashmere Ribbon WristletOn another happy note, I've got a store sneak peek for you, my new Cashmere Ribbon Wristlets! I used pinking shears for a fun edge, and I've found some really awesome ribbon lately. It took me a while to get sizing worked out, and I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have! I'll be making 3 sizes for the store, small, medium & large, (at 6", 7" and 8", respectively.)

They also feature velcro closures, so the sizes are adjustable about 1 1/2" larger/smaller either way. I made the small so small, partially because it's my wrist size, and also so I could market to younger girls as well.
Cashmere Ribbon Wristlet
I picked up cashmere in light & dark pink, aqua, green & lavender, so watch out for lots of fun new styles! (I'm soooo keeping this one for myself... Can you blame me? It's pink-ness is so yummy! LOL)

Also, I apologize for some link problems with the store button to the side. I'm not quite sure how to fix it since I use Firefox (and didn't even see it myself - thanks again, June!) But, here's a plain 'ol link to - My Etsy Store. Thanks for looking, and I really appreciate comments and/or suggestions!


Sakura Pincushion

Sakura Pin Cushion

Another evening post for me today... I've been doing so much hand sewing lately, I thought to myself, "Why not make another pincushion?" You know, because I don't have enough pincushions, already! LOL Anyhoo, I've seen these guys around the Blog-O-Sphere, and wanted to make my own, and it was super easy-peasy! Watch out for mor store updates, over the weekend, and into next week! Thanks for stopping by!



Another late post for me, although it's because I've been working very hard on my Etsy store this week. I'd really appreciate some feedback, so if you have a minute, would you click through (via the Etsy link to the side,) and let me know what you think? I've really tried to bump up the quality of my photography, although some colors are still very tough for me to capture well. (Like this vintage blue Robert Kaufman print.)

I'm also planning on adding tsumami kanzashi flower sets to the store, but I wanted to get some ala carte items up first. I have a bunch of fun stuff in the works, soon; and I'm super excited! LOL I only hope other people like my tsumami flowers & accessories as much as I do! Hahaha! :)


WIP Wednesday - Seaweed Squiggle Shawl

Squiggle Shawl Detail

I received some really awesome yarn for Christmas this year, and I've already put some of it to use! When I saw the
pattern on MagKnits, I knew I wanted to make one of my own, it looked so pretty, and easy; and it's knitting up very quickly. I'm only using 2 yarns for my shawl, the original pattern calls for a main color, and 2 contrast yarns. But, I love both of them, and didn't want another in the mix, competing for my attention!

Squiggle Shawl

The yarns I'm using are
Knit Picks Suri Dream in ocean, and Araucania's Quellón in their #3 colorway, gold topaz & mint. The Suri Dream is an alpaca wool blend with some nylon; and the Quellón is a viscose cotton blend chenille. When my Mom mentioned that some of my Christmas yarn hadn't shown up on time, and that it was chenille, I got very nervous… See, I'm a tight knitter, or rather, I was a tight knitter. With my new knitting needles, I've really evened my tension problems out. I've also tried to crochet with chenille, and couldn't even find the loops of my foundation chain to make a small flower!

Anyway, when it finally did show up, I knew immediately it had to become a squiggle shawl. The colors remind me of seaweed, and the texture…. is soooooo soft! I wish I could let you feel it, it's incredibly, velvety soft! My Mom got 3 skeins for me, and I'm alternating with 2 of them for the squiggle shawl; so I'm hoping to have enough left over for another fun project. My husband and I have a Hawaiian cruise booked for the fall, so I'm totally excited and dreaming of all the wonderful handmade items I'll get to take along, (knit and sewn!)

Araucania Quellon Yarn

Word of caution though, about the chenille yarn… It does break very, very easily. Originally I used it for my cast on edge, and then broke it trying to stretch the edge out, just a bit! I went back and used the Suri Dream, and a simplified cast on, for my second start. Looking back, I probably could have used the chenille with the different cast on, but I'm not going back & redoing all of it now!


My Favorite Monday!

Well, Monday isn't my favorite day of the week, but I couldn't resist the alliteration! I've often wondered about the details of other bloggers lives, so I thought I'd share a few of mine!

My favorite color is Tiffany or robin's egg blue, vibrant blue with just a hint of green to it.

My favorite food is pizza; sometimes thin & crispy, and sometimes thick Chicago style!

My favorite snack is French fries. My favorite restaurant, The Capital Grille (in Lombard) makes the best - parmesan truffle fries!

My favorite drink is a French martini, Chambord liquor + vodka + pineapple juice = tasty! (Sometimes at bars they add a touch of champagne, too!)

My favorite outfit is a ribbed tank and yoga pants, and I'm lucky enough to wear them to work - at home!

My favorite singer is Nina Simone, and (currently) my favorite song is Trouble In Mind.

My favorite movie is The Fifth Element, and my favorite scene is when the Chinese food vendor bets Bruce Willis lunch saying, "Great Father say, it never rain everyday; this is good news, guaranteed. I bet you lunch!" A very close second is I, Robot. I loved Alan Tudyk as Sonny, and find the paradox of what makes us human, and could a machine posses whatever that is(?) very fascinating. Thirdly, (only because it's the newest,) is Serenity. I loved it even more after I watched the TV series, Firefly.

My favorite book is Dreaming Metal, by Melissa Scott. And my favorite genre of books is hard Sci-Fi (hard refers to the use of real, or theoretically real science; instead of made up.) I also have an affinity for strong heroines, and prefer books set in the near or far future.

My favorite show is The Mythbusters. I'm fond of large explosions, and they have the best! I often think they have the best jobs on tv! LOL Close second goes to Mind of Mencia, on Comedy Central. My husband and I went to a late show of his (Carlos Mencia,) and he was bold and hilarious; two qualities not often seen combined these days!

I'd really love to read more about you, too! Add a comment, or a link to your blog!


Migraines suck...

I had a nice post all planned out for today; but unfortunately I lost a whole day of work yesterday to a migraine. I was actually on my way home from lunch with my Mom, when it hit. The first thing that I noticed was a visual aura, which let me tell you, is a little disturbing when you're driving on the tollway at 70 mph. Basically, part of my field of vision in one, or both of my eyes, becomes distorted. It's like tv static, except it starts at the point of focus and spreads until it's past my peripheral vision. (It usually takes 20-40 minutes to grow, and I know I need to be in quiet darkness after the aura's gone, because pain is close behind.) It's normally a C-shape, so I can still see, but when it's in my focus point, it's very difficult.

Why didn't I just stop you ask? Well, because when I get migraines I need to lay down in the dark, and rest. Not really possible in the middle of the day on the side of the highway. So, I was really freaked out, and just made it home before the pain came on in waves. It starts with a stiff neck, but overwhelmingly takes over my whole body. They usually come with nausea, sensitivity to light & sound; and sometimes I'll get chills, or sweat.

Headaches aren't really anything new for me, I've had them frequently since I was younger. But migraines croppped up in my early 20's, and although I have a handle on them most of the time, I still get stress-triggered migraines. More and more I think I should get treated for them, because when I have one, it completely takes over my life. Like yesterday... I was hoping to get a bunch of accessories done for my store; and all I could do was try and sleep. Meh...


WIP Wednesday - Felted Fun!

Late post today, but I've been playing around with felting beads today - and having SO much fun with it! I made a bunch of round ones, and a rope which I cut into coin shaped beads (not pictured.) The tips I found in a Knitty article really helped, it's a simple process; but can be quite tricky to achieve consistent results.

Felt Beads

I also decided to whip up some quickie melt-and-pour soaps to felt; I didn't have anything small enough around. So, aqua jasmine minis, will be felted soaps (after dinner!) Quick craft projects can be so satisfying! I just can't wait till all of the beads dry, so I can make stuff with them! More on that later!


FO - Quilted Patchwork Purse

Ok, so I'm more than a year behind everyone else on this, but when I saw the tutorial on Autum's blog, Creative Little Daisy, I knew I had to make one myself. This was actually a belated Christmas present for my Mother, who is understanding enough to not make me feel too bad about it's timing. I found the ribbon on the handle first, and just loved the combo of pink, purple and orange. Then I found the purple minky fabric, and knew what I was going to turn it all into.

Quilted Patchwork Purse

Well as it turns out, the minky doesn't quilt well, so I decided to leave those panels blank. Originally, I was planning on alternating the quilting thread color on each panel, but when I decided to leave the purple blank, I knew that would be the right choice for the quilting. I also decided mid-project to add cording between the outer body and the lining, although I kept it very petite.

Quilted Patchwork Purse - DetailThe orange stretch twill I used came from a remnant, and it had "Sample" marks all over it, so I didn't have enough to do the lining out of it. It worked well for the cording, and I used more of the pink stretch twill for the lining. It was a little thick, but I used a scrap of the purple minky for a gathered patch pocket, and so I think it all worked out well. I'm meeting my Mom for lunch on Thursday, and I hope she likes it!

The handle is 1" nylon webbing with minky fabric over it, and ribbon sewn on top. I was worried my machine might not sew through the webbing, but I actually had more problems with the final top-stitching at the side seams than anything else. I sewed the magnestic closures and the tops of the pocket to the lining for extra strength (by hand.) If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


The Best Laid Plans...

... of mice and men often go awry. Or so they say... I've decided to postpone my Sampler contribution a month. With the holidays just over, I didn't have enough time to get everything I wanted to together (which isn't really that surprising.) I was somehow hoping to get everything done, and I guess that's the lesson here; I can't do everything. I think a lot of women struggle with that issue, and it was definitely a hard realization for me to finally come to.

The hard truth is this; I have 6 flower snaps in my store, and 2 accessories. I have 4 dozen almost finished, but they need photographing and retouching. I only finished 3 flower snaps with hair barrettes, and was planning on donating 25+ to the Sampler this month. I also have plans for several new accessories, but they're only concepts & materials right now. I'll need to prototype something I'm happy with, before I make multiples to sell.

Also, I just finished tearing my craft room apart & re-organizing it; so it was really wishful thinking that I'd be able to finish everything. Oh well, it seems silly to get worked up over what I couldn't get done, when there's always more to be done! This year, I'm going to try and put more time & energy into my Etsy store, as well as learning how to use my new serger! There's a lot more that I want to accomplish this year, but I thought it might end up making me feel overwhelmed if I tried to list everything on my To Do... list! (Another one of my goals this year is to sweat the small stuff less! LOL)


My New & Improved Craft Room!

Whew! I knew a few weeks ago, when I decided to add another wall of shelving to my craft room, that my timing wasn't great - being Christmas & all. I went ahead with it anyway, if you know me, you shouldn't be surprised, I'm a stubborn ass sometimes! And here's the outcome! I'm super pleased with myself, I need order in my craft room; chaos drives me crazy! LOL

Craft room

It's basically just hang tracks on the wall, with adjustable brackets & shelving. To that, I added lots of clear bins, large & small, rolling carts and my sewing machine (which is on a rolling desk.) I moved the pegboard section out from the closet, where it's much more functional. That also opened up a ton of space in the closet, which also has hang tracks and adjustable shelves. I'm really happy with the outcome, it's such a tiny room at 10ft by 10ft, so I really have to keep things clean, or it starts looking cluttered so fast!

Oh yes, I almost forgot! I got a serger for my birthday! Woooo Hoooo! Can you tell I'm excited? LOL It's a 5/4/3/2, so it'll do just about any stitch I need - that is when I figure out how to thread it! Now I just need to get some thread and practice! I've been wanting to make a convertible Infinity dress for a while, but sewing stretch fabrics on my sewing machine was always tricky. I'm looking forward to mastering it, but I'm also nervous, (I seem to always feel this way before I dive into something daunting!)

I'm still rearranging things; before cleaning it, I had just thrown things into bins without much thought to keeping anything together. So I'm still consolidating like items together, and I find the more I do that, the more space I actually have! It's a nice feeling, I know I have plenty of extra storage room, for all of the craft supplies that will be going into it this new year! It was super tough to get a good shot of the whole room, it's so small! Hopefully, I'll have the details all cleaned up so I can post closer up pics. (I'm still clearing out some holiday suprises!)


WIP Wednesday

WIP Cable Experiment

Admittedly, I started my husband's Christmas present much too late to have it done on time. So, I'm still working on it. I don't knit very fast, although the new needles have definitely improved my pace. I'm trying to get things going though, I'd like to get a garment on the needles for myself soon.

It'll probably be the Blue Sky Alpacas mini skirt; my sister helped me get the right gauge before the holidays got really busy. I'm also contemplating having another go at the Razor cami, and Interweave Knits Prairie Tunic is also on my list to do. Don't even get me started with shrugs & wraps, though - I want to knit a Lady Eleanor, a Squiggle shawl, a turtleneck shrug/scarf and a One Skein wonder (with long sleeves!) Oh, and of course, there's the Clapotis! Oy… that's a lot of knitting, and I'm really trying to focus on my store this year!

WIP Cable Experiment (w/ flash)

Anyway, this scarf is just 10 cables without the border treatment, so they meld together to form this nice rippled texture. It was just sort of an experiment gone right, but I love it when that happens! It reminds me of a manly Clapotis, although maybe that's just my imagination! LOL! I also got a lovely new knitting tote from my husband (for my birthday,) the color is perfect, and it's just perfect for projects in progress.

The second pic was taken with a flash, and it shows the cables well. The texture they create makes seeing each line of them difficult. Oops! I almost forgot to mention, this is just 2 balls of Lion brand Microspun. I just added the second ball, so I'm about midway through.


Crafty Goodness!

Goodies from Shirley!

I received some awesome gifts this holiday season, and had to share! Shirley sent me a beautiful hat, gorgeous crochet earrings, an adorable tape measure and a to-DIE-for skein of Fiesta La Luz Multi silk yarn (in Alaska colorway, a lovely blend of purples and turquoise.) She also sent some chocolate goodies and some fruit leather; thanks again Shirley!

Birthday & Christmas roving!

From my sister came a set of Knit Picks Options interchangeable circular knitting needles. I LOVE these! They've sped up my knitting considerably! She also picked up a couple of the chunkier needles and a larger cable. She also gave me a copy of Scarf Style, by Pam Allen. I love the turtleneck shrug/scarf on the cover, it's so funky & fun! It has the Lady Eleanor wrap pattern, too; which I've been itching to try for a few weeks!

Malabrigo bag

She also got me 1/2 lb of roving; half from Fun With Yarn in awesome jewel tones. The second 4 oz is a pretty pastel blue, and I love them both! Thanks Jenn! She also spoiled me with a killer felted bag for my birthday - out of Malabrigo! It's a wide bag, so I'll need to add a little support to the sides to keep them from flopping in or out. I have a few ideas, I'm just working out what will be the most subtle option.

Books & other fun stuff

My Mom gave me a bunch of knitting magazines, Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting and SelvEDGE; as well as an awesome Japanese beading book, and pretty aqua beads! She also gave me 5 balls of Knit Picks Suri Dream (in Ocean,) which I'm planning on using for a Squiggle shawl. Some non-crafty gifts included a pair of lovely Christmas ornaments, a super-soft (& strangely thin) scarf, and a lovely journal. Thanks Mom!


New Year's Sweets - Rice Krispy Treats!

Happy New Year! I still can't believe it's 2007 already! Anyhoo, I've been wanting to add recipes to my blog for a while; and these are my favorite treats! Be careful though, I can never eat only one, so they go super fast! LOL

You'll need:

6 cups Rice Krispy Cereal
1 pkg Marshmallows (16oz)
3 Tbs Butter
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

Divide cereal in half, put one in large bowl (the other can be any size.) Grease pan (either 13x9 or 9x9.) Melt butter, peanut butter & marshmallows in microwave (or stovetop,) til just melted. Add vanilla & stir thoroughly. Pour onto cereal in large bowl, then add remaining cereal. Stir until cereal is evenly coated, this takes some muscle! When it's all mixed, pour into pan and flatten. You can use a roller or the back of a spoon, but be sure to grease it too, or it'll stick! Wait until they cool to cut, and enjoy!


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