Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And now a word from our sponsors....

Here's some cool stuff I've found that I want to share with everyone!

First, Wonder Soil! Every previous year I've started seeds directly in my garden. Living in CA it's warm enough to do that pretty early. The first year, they did pretty well. And then the bunnies came. Somehow they figured out how to get past the rabbit proof fence. They would eat my seedlings before they even had a chance (especially the sunflowers). So this year, I'm starting my seeds indoors so they will at least have a fighting chance against the bunnies! (The bunnies don't have a huge impact on mature plants.) I'm getting a grow light from my dad and a seed warmer mat that I bought with birthday money from my mil. I have peat pots and even little plastic greenhouses. Now all I need is seed starting mix. I live in an apartment, and I really don't relish the idea of trying to store a bag of DIRT in here somewhere. That's where Wonder Soil comes to the rescue! A 1 lb. tube holds the equivalent of 15 lbs of potting soil! And each wafer expands to fill a 5in. pot which should be ample for my seed starting needs. I got a deal on 2 tubes and I figure they will last me until we move, about 2 years from now!

Speaking of seed starting, check out this new variety of cherry tomato; Black Pearl. Makes me think of "Pirates of the Caribbean". Anyway, I was very intrigued by the description, so I bought a seed packet. At $5 a packet, they are not cheap but the plants sell for $10! Maybe I'll start a bunch and make a killing selling them for $5 a plant! I wonder if there's a way to collect the seeds from tomato plants. They probably wouldn't produce the same fruit as the parent plant. Oh well. I wonder if these tomatoes would make good jam.

And speaking of jam, here's a no cook freezer jam pectin that I love! I used it today to make strawberry freezer jam with my two boys. It is soooo easy! My older ds helped me cut up and mash the strawberries, then both boys helped me stir in the sugar (only 1 1/2 cups, much less than other pectins). Then after we let the sugar dissolve, my older ds gradually poured the pectin in while I stirred. Then we took turns stirring for 3 minutes, let it sit for 5 minutes and ladled it into jam jars. I ladled and my ds told me when it was full, moved the funnel to the next jar, and put the lid on the full jar. Then we put them in the freezer! So easy, yet so fun. And you can't beat strawberry freezer jam. MMmmmm.... The hard part is keeping it around for any amount of time! My boys especially love it.

Speaking of my boys, we've decided to sign up for Upromise. Basically, when you buy certain products affiliated with Upromise, they put a certain amount in a savings account to use for college. It's not a lot, but it's more than nothing! It's kind of like a rewards card, without the extra card. You register your credit cards and any store cards you want to use online. You can also earn when you shop at certain online retailers. Then you choose the students you want to save for, in our case our two boys. I think you can add as many as you want. And family and friends can sign up to contribute you your students as well! So if any of you would like to contribute, or just open an account for yourselves, I'll send you an email. But only if you want me to, I don't want to spam anyone!

Sorry if this post sounds like a commercial break! It's not meant to be.

And now back to our program!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Christmas: The Final Chapter

My last two Christmas projects are made with the same yarn, Chenille Sensations. First, the bitty bear. The pattern is here and is super quick to make, though a little fiddly since it is so small. The finished size is maybe 2.5 inches tall. Sorry about the fuzzy pic, my camera doesn't do close ups well! My older ds gave the bear to his best friend, a little neighbor girl.

And last, but probably my favorite project this year (the elephant was a close second), a baby girl's 'snow queen' dress with headband and booties (that I designed myself). I got the pattern for the dress and headband from Crochet! magazine and have been dying to make it, but never had the opportunity until now. I ran into trouble when I discovered the yarn it called for had been discontinued! But thankfully I was able find someone at crochetville that had some in their stash and was willing to swap! The yarn wasn't the color called for in the pattern (a dark purple), but personally I like it better in this color. It was made for my newest niece, who was only 2 months old. The pattern is for a 6mo, so it was a little big, but she'll grow into it!

And that's it for my Christmas projects! More coming in a year!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Christmas part 3: Blankets

I made two afghans for Christmas presents this year; the pink, purple, and green one for my bil's mother using this pattern and the blue one for my dad from this pattern book. I used a Q hook for both of them so they were quick and easy, a must when making afghans! Last year I made a blanket for my mother with a much smaller hook and a more complex pattern. It took forever! I almost didn't get it done in time. My hand started cramping up at the end as I rushed to finish it. It looked beautiful but I learned my lesson. Unless I have a whole year to make it and take my time, use a Q hook!

Make you Christmas afghan requests now!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Christmas continued: Girls Ponchos

Lion Boucle ponchos! I gave these to two of my nieces; my brothers just over 3yo daughter and my sil's just under 3yo daughter. They both looked adorable in them! (Since I have no girls, I have to crochet all the cute girl stuff for my nieces.) The ponchos are simple to make and work up very fast, so they're perfect for Christmas giving. I used the recommended yarns for these, which I do not do very often! But no one else can match the vibrant colors of this yarn.

More to come.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Christmas Projects Revealed! part 1: Pink Elephants

Hi all! Did you miss me? Now that Christmas is over I can share all the projects I completed as presents. First, a pink elephant! This was made for my niece who is not quite 3yo. It was made with yarn that I got from my husband's mother's husband's first wife's yarn stash that I inherited. It is my first attempt at crocheting a stuffed animal. I was quite pleased with the result and I think my niece liked it too! Here's a link to the pattern I used. I did the eyes differently, used a scarf instead of a bow, and didn't add any of the extra details, but I didn't alter the basic shape.

To be continued......
Alberta Young