Free Pattern :: Crochet Christmas Stocking

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He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

I don't know about you, but my favorite bit about opening Christmas presents was always the Christmas stocking.  Great things come in Little Packages -right?!!  I enjoy it even more now that I get to play Santa Claus to my daughter.  One needs a Christmas stocking to fill with all those fabulous tiny presents.   This is an easy crochet pattern and will take an average of two weekends to make.  

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Christmas in July :: Inspiration

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I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~Charles Dickens

It is already the end of July. How are your Christmas preparations coming along?  Now don't laugh.  I am not kidding.  Christmas comes close on the heals of Thanksgiving, which gives one very little time to craft and prepare.  Rather than stress out, I am suggesting that we, meaning you and  me, learn from my mother who started her preparations in July.  Running a catering business as a single parent kept her extremely busy from the 1st of November though New Years, but she was not about to lose out on any of the fun.  She had a room she designated her wrapping room.  When Mom passed away in October, 2008, we found gifts for us already wrapped.  I couldn't' stop crying at the time, but I was so grateful to have that one last present to tuck under my tree.

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Free Pattern :: Crochet Christmas Coasters

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Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.--- Norman Vincent Peale

There are only 177 days until Christmas.  After years of being the family scrooge, I've decided to follow in  my mother's footsteps.  She started preparing for Christmas in July.  This was partly due to nostalgia.  Christmas was her favorite holiday and the one with the happiest memories.  She also started in July as she owned a catering company and she was working 12/7 from The week before Thanksgiving until the week after New Year's.  She didn't have time to go shopping or prepare the homemade crafts in December, so she got started in July when her business was slower.  

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Crochet Roundup :: Easter Cuteness!

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Easter is the demonstration of God that life is essentially spiritual and timeless.  ~Charles M. Crowe

Easter is early this year, landing on Sunday March 27, not in usual April.  So if you want to add some crochet fun to your Easter goodies line up.  It's time to get started.  Here are a few fun patterns I found.  They are free, so please respect the designers, by not making the items and selling them as your own, even if it is for your Church fundraiser. 

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The Heart Truth: Wear RED!

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February is without a doubt one of my favorite months. It is the shortest of the winter months which is a big deal to a gal who craves spring and summer.  But most of all February reminds us to tell those we love that we do love them and even to go and give them a smooch.  Pink and red are two of my favorite color schemes.  Throw in a bit of lace and swoon!

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Free Patterns :: New Projects Using Smoothfoam for Valentine's Day

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Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. ~Albert Einstein

I love Valentine's Day.  It is my favorite holiday.  What's not to love about pink, red, lace, chocolate and smooches???
Here are a small selection of fun Valentine Crafts from the design team for Smoothfoam.  

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Last minute Knit Gifts!

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What is bought is cheaper than a gift.  ~Portuguese Proverb

I have an adorable high energy neice who refers to herself as a fashionista.  She is a seriously silly little girl.  And as my favorite and only neice, I wanted to make her a special handmade gift for Christmas.  A few years ago I made her a pink and purple hat with her name embroidered on it.  Given that she is still into pink and purple, I decided on making her a hot pink cowl that tucks into her jacket and keeps the winter chill out. It's also nice to wear indoors with a t-shirt.  

You will need:

#8 circular knitting needle
1 ball of worsted yarn, approx 200yds (I used Red Heart Soft)
tapestry needle
scissors

Let's Create!

Terms:

4x4 rib (knit 4, purl 4 and repeat

Guage: 4 sts to the inch in stockinette on an 8.  For a firmer rib, go down a needle size or two.

Cast on 120 stitches and work in a a 4x4 rib for 10 inches.  Bind off in pattern.  Sew in all ends.  Done! This took me approximately one evening to make, so not the very last minute of vey last minute gifts to make, but doable before December 25 given that today is December 18.  And really is there anything more fun to give than something handmade and from the heart?

This would be equally cute for a boy in a tweedy brown, grey or forest green.

 


DIY Quick Knit Gift / DIY Spa Gift

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The only gift is a portion of thyself.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh my goodness! Christmas is in just three weeks!  What to make? What to make?  You want it to be a nice gift with a sense of thought put into it, no problem.  What about a spa package! WHAT?! Those are impossibly expensive.  Not if you make it yourself.

I've become addicted to making dish cloths and face cloths.  I have to admit, I didn't get the craze for these tiny knit treasures when they first started appearing on Ravelry and such until  I received one as a gift from a student.  A worsted cotton knit up into a wash cloth is super absorbent and extra soft and add that it is handmade, it's the ultra luxury item.  Add it with a delicious smelling soap or bath salt, and you have fabulous spa gift.  

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You will need:

1 skein of Sugar-n-Cream
#8 knitting needles
scissors
Tapestry needle.

This pattern is for a basic bias face cloth which is knit from one corner to the next.  

Cast on 4 stitches.

Knit one row.

*Turn and K2, YO, knit across the rest of the stitches*. Repeat from * to* until you have 5o stitches on the needle and what looks like half a triangle.  if you want it bigger, that's fine Keep going until desired width is achieved.

Next row* K1, K2tog YO, K2tog, Knit across the rest of the stitches.* Repeat from * to * until you are back to just 4 stitches.  You will end up back at just 4 stitches.  Bind off final 4 sititches.  

Weave in tails.

Click here to download the pattern. -  Download Bias Knit Dish or Face Cloth

For Bath salts,

Epsom-salt

Buy a bag of plain epsom salts.  For every cup of salt mix in 4 drops of your favorite essential oil. I like lavender and rosemary mixed together, stir thoroughly. Use a glass or stainless steel bowl as plastic may absorb the essential oils.  Package the salts in a pretty bag or jar.   

 

For Soaps, 

Check your local craft store for a soap making kit or get plain glycerine and melt it down in your microwave and pour into a cute ice cube tray of heart shapes.  Allow to cool and then pop out.  Wrap them in saran wrap or in a cute plastic holiday treat bag.  For more explicit directions, take a look at this website.


Christmas DIY Holiday Decorations Part Two

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Christmas is a time when you get homesick — even when you're home. ~Carol Nelson

More holiday inspiration!  The needle felted tree takes some time, but the rest are 2-3 hour projects.  For the snowman puppet pencil topper, use the the toe of an old sock as the hat rather than knit one by hand, unless of course you want to knit or crochet it.  It turns a pencil into a bit of magic and makes the minutes at school move a little faster.  The spice ball ornament smells fabulous and I hang it in my closet throughout the year.

Paper Christmas Tree

Needle Felted Christmas Tree

Snowman Pencil Topper

Spice Ball Ornament


Recipes :: Chocolate - Is it healthy?

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All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt. - Charles M. Schulz

My diet has become quite restricted since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.  I'm okay with it, but some things I truly love and one of those items is CHOCOLATE!  According to the Mayo Clinic website, the following guidelines are given on the healthy benefits of chocolate:

In addition, some research has linked chocolate consumption to reduced risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. One caveat: More research is needed to confirm these results.

In the meantime, if you want to add chocolate to your diet, do so in moderation. Why? Most commercial chocolate has ingredients that add fat, sugar and calories. And too much can contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

We'll, I've always preferred good quality very dark chocolate.  Now that I'm on a low sugar diet, I get the stuff that is 75% or more dark.  That may be considered too bitter for many of you, but I love it!

The following recipe comes from Mary K. Lawrie, a friend and long time vegan. She calls it the Fudge Single Lady Brownie.  It looks unbelievably delicious.  There is one "weird" ingredient in it. It calls for mashed avocado.  This is second or third recipe that calls for avocado mixed with chocolate that I've seen. I've yet to try it, but given Mary's recipes are always good, I've got to give it a try.  If you decide to do so also, let me know how it goes for you. I'll report back in a few days after I've tried it.

With my rheumatoid arthritis, I've also jumped on the gluten-ffree band wagon.  It helps to keep my inflammation to a minimum in my joints.  Anyway, sometimes I don't always have time to cook from scratch, so I've looked at a few gluten-free brownie mixes, and I like the Namaste Foods Brownie Mix.  For the oil, I use organic coconut oil. Though I prefer sugars that are lower on the glycemic scale which cane sugar is not, but these don't have much sugar in them.  The mix is a tad expensive at $7.00 or so a box, but well worth it. The price helps set the brownies at the level of a treat, so you don't over indulge!  Even my daughter likes them, and she's picky having attended a French Pastry School.

And of course, there is always my favorite -Bissengers.  I've been frequenting this business since childhood. I figure if it was good enough for Napoleon (he bought their chocolates when the business was still in France), then good enough for me. Every penny I saved went toward molasses chocolate lollipops.  I can't have those now, but when I stopped by there the other day and told them about my low sugar restriction, they were happy to steer me toward their dark chocolates with nuts  and coconut. YUM! They even have a dark chocolate with Quinoa crunch.  Super delish!