Friday, October 28, 2011

Third Time A Charm

Ugh... It is good to be posting.  Me posting means that I am home from traveling and that I am back to work at my cube.  Justin and I traveled to Vegas last Friday for the CPCU conferment.  I recently obtained my Charter Property and Casualty Underwriter designation, which is kind of a big deal in the insurance industry. Of all the insurance nerds, I am towards the most nerdish end of the spectrum.  However, Nerdish or not, my CPCU did score me a Dooney & Burke Purse and free trip to Vegas with Justin.  So nerdy can be good.  Justin came back on Tuesday, and I flew straight to Ft. Lauderdale.  So being gone for that long and all the moving around makes for a long week, and I have missed my blog and my projects.  So I am back. 
I am a bit behind in my projects.  I didn’t get much knitting or crocheting done on my trips.  And the little that I did get done, I don’t want to post on here.   It is a reader’s gift and I don’t want them to see it before they receive it.  However, I will have some like it available at the Christmas Festival on December 3rd.  Nice plug, right?
So let me show you some of the other stuff I have been working on.  Justin and I were in Michaels yesterday, and he found this pattern book and encouraged me to buy it.  He is a sucker for animals.  He didn’t even fuss, when I explained that I would also have to buy some yarn to complete the lion pattern.  So I jumped at the opportunity for new patterns and new yarns. 

Now, I have tried to make animals before.  I bought the yarn and started a monkey for Justin’s little brother.  I didn’t finish it.  Actually gave up before I even completed half the body.   That was awhile back, though.  And I was certain that I would finish an animal the next time around.  I started on an elephant.  I wanted to make a cute little stuffed elephant for my couch during football season, but the body ended up looking a gas tank, and the legs were too short, and the head was looking kind of square, so I quit that as well.  But they say, “Third time is a charm”.  And I have tried again.  Here is my little lion.  I still need to put some legs and ears on him, but he is almost done.  I think he is pretty dang cute.  He is tiny enough to fit in your hand.  The pattern book that Justin picked out has ten different tiny little animals.

I am getting things ready for the Yarn Fairies booth in December, so expect to see quite a few projects this month.
Just before I left, I finished this little guy.  I love him.  I call him Louis, named after the main character in the Interview with the Vampire.

Have a good weekend, and be sure to check back in Monday for some interesting creations and costumes....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Purpose

It is chilly here in Atlanta.  It is in the fifties, and the wind is blowing.  So it feels chillier than what it really is.  And in the corner of the office in which my window cube exists, there seems to be a small problem.  We CANNOT get the temperature right.  Some days I am sweating and trying to figure out just how many clothes I can remove before I am “inappropriate” for the office environment.  And then there are other times, when I am freezing.  Today happens to be a freezing day.  So cold, that I am still wearing my scarf.  This brings me to the purpose of this post.
Here is my scarf.  I untangled it from my neck briefly to take this pic and then quickly put it back on.   This scarf is special to me.  Yes, it looks like an ordinary furry scarf.  Yes, I make scarves like this all the time. Yes,  I actually have a much more complicated scarf on my needles at home that I have briefly mentioned before.  But this one is special.
 It was made by a friend of mine, Cindy Clark.  She was one of my first friends in the yarn world.  On the day she gave me this scarf, she also gave me a ton of her own stash yarn.  Which in case you are not familiar, it is kind of like giving away a favorite blouse or favorite piece of jewelry.  Let me try to explain this better.  Yarn crafters choose yarn carefully.  We buy yarn that stands out to us.  We look for colors and textures that we like.  We look for yarn that reminds of us people or things.  So the yarn in a crafter’s stash is not just a bunch of string, as most people (read: my husband) would believe.  With this explanation you can see Cindy’s generosity; she gave a ton of her yarn away to a small group of new knitters and crocheters.    Cindy had to greatly reduce her stash, because she and her family have been called to the mission field in the Philippines to fill a great purpose.
So while I am in my cube freezing, and I feel this scarf on my neck and I am filled with warmth.  As a knitter/crocheter, I know the time and effort that goes into creating something.  I am reminded of Cindy and how much I miss her and her family.  And I often think of her generosity as I look through my yarn stash and see parts of Cindy’s stash. 
So all of that thinking led me to this...
I hope the receivers of my gifts feel the same way I do today.  Chances are if you care enough to read this blog, I have made you something in past or will make you something in the future. 
When you open that present from me, I want you to remember that the item was made specifically for you.  I chose the pattern or project with care.  I chose yarn that reminds me of you or yarn that I thought would compliment you.  I spent my time, sometimes, many hours on making this item for you. 
When you wear it or use it, I want you to know that it was made with love.  I want you to think of my gift as a symbol of how much I care for you.  And I hope that knowing that someone cares for you and loves you, makes you feel good, because that was my whole purpose to begin with.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend of Creations

Do you know those weekends, when you have loose plans but not any definite plans?  Yes, you have errands that need to be ran, projects that need to be finished, a house that needs to be cleaned, but nothing really pressing.  That is how our weekend was, and it was very nice.  It was a laid-back, go with the flow, kind of weekend.  And with Justin and I being the creative people we are, creations happened. 
 And here were the results:
Hummus – IF you have been following my blog, then you will know that I have recently made this.  When I made this last weekend, it was good, but not quite right.  I have tried again.  I used the recipe below which I think got me a little closer to the end result I was looking for.  I also added some ground red pepper.  It is really close to be exactly what I want, so I will keep working on it.   I served it with cucumbers and crackers.  When I get it just right, then I will spring for the warm pita bread!

WolfPack Chili - Don’t go looking for this on, because you aren’t going to find it.  Justin has wanted to make a chili for some time.   So in Publix, we poured over the beans, the seasoning, and the meat.  At home, Justin worked busily combining all the ingredients.  And telling me, “Hurry, write this down before I forget it”.   So I have it documented, the official chili of the Broderway household.  I can’t release the official recipe but I can tell you it has two different kinds of beans, Top Sirloin Steak, Wild Turkey bourbon, and a bit of Miller Lite in it.  And it is pretty amazing. .

Sergeant Frog - I knit/crochet things all the time.  And 98% of the time, I make things for girls. Girl’s items are so cute.  And it is a million times easier to make a flower, than to knit a boat or a train.   So I was working on another animal hat, and Justin wanted this to be a boy hat.  Not only did he want me to use boy colors, but he also wanted me to make a sergeant patch to put on the earflap.  Since I rarely make boy items, I conceded.  So I now have a Sergeant Frog. 
Although he is now finished, he is pictured here unfinished, because:
1.      I needed to see if I put the first eye in the right place.
2.      This picture proves the statement in my last post, about one eyed hats looking demented, true.
3.      Justin is making a goofy face.
4.      Saving the finished version for the Holiday in Smokerise Christmas Festival on December 3rd.
5.      This overall picture cracks me up.

I am whipping out these animal hats, so if you have any ideas of what animals to try next please let me know.  I think I have decided to work on a blue bird hat next, but that shouldn’t take long at all.  I apologize for the photography in this post.  I know it is pretty bad, but you get the picture, right?
PS - I also apologize for the dirty socks in the background.  Oops...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I may be a Hooker

I have a secret.  This post is not going to have much to do with homemaking, but this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want to.  So there.  I have two vaguely related topics to share with you today.  One of them is a secret, the other is an observation.  I should probably start at the beginning.
I learned to knit first.  I love knitting.  I follow the normal knitting blogs.  I take knitting classes.  I enjoy the knitting magazines with all the cool new gadgets.  I think knitting is an incredible craft, and the things that it can produce are just amazing.  I think the precision of design and color that can be incorporated into knitting is unmatched by any other yarn craft.   Look at this pic for an example.

I did not make this, but this was worked one stitch at a time to create this amazing pillow.  Knitting is amazing.  But recently, I have developed a new love.
Holly and I were at Rue 21 last Tuesday.  Holly being the very cool teenager that she is, she was immediately drawn to these animal hats.  These knitted animal hats.  And like every other teenager I know, she says, “I am gonna make Mom buy this for me”.   I had a small conniption fit and replied, “The hell you are!  There is no way you are going to spend $15 on a hat that I could make for free”.    It was pretty dramatic.  I took a closer look at the knitted hat, and decided that I would CROCHET one that looked similar.  Knitting the hat never crossed my mind, not while I was in the store, not while I was brainstorming, not while I was getting ideas on Ravelry.  

Prior to this revelation, I would knit several things and then get an itch to crochet.  I would whip out a scarf or something like that and return to knitting.  But recently, I have crocheted a huge blanket, a scarf, and now two animal hats while my knitted scarf is still unfinished.  I don’t know if this is permanent.  I am definitely not extremely proud of this.  I thought I was a knitter, who occastionally crochet.  But, I may be a hooker.
Now that the secret is out, while I was crocheting these hats I had this thought.  They are so cute when they are finished.  See below and believe.  But while these are working up, they are so ugly.  I am serious!  When you finish just the plain hat with earflaps, it looks like something Cousin Ed would wear.  But as the yarn artist chooses what color yarn to accent with, what expression the face will hold, what techniques to use, you start to see something really cute develop.  When your owl only has one eye and one ear, he looks pretty demented, but add the others and he is as cute as a button.  
It led me to think that we are a lot like these hats.  Parts of us are not pretty.  In fact, sometimes we can look pretty demented.  But it is a process.  We are not finished becoming our finished product.  And although at times, we may not like what we see in the mirror.  We need to remember that we are not finished yet. Every day through experiences and relationships, we are being worked on and molded to become the person that we were meant to be.   The artist still has some work to do.  And when we are finished, we will be just as planned.  And that flaw you saw before will just be the unique characteristic that makes us who we are. 
This is the owl hat that I made as a replica of the one in the store, but I kind of think mine is cuter.

This is my DaphCoop hat.  I used my cats as an inspiration.  I chose the dark grayish color for Cooper.  I love his color.  And the pink nose and pink ears are from my baby girl, Daphne.   Isn’t Justin such a good sport?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

I like to think of myself of a laid-back, fly by the seat of her pants, kind of girl.  I like to do things on a whim.  I am flexible, and I am usually up for anything.  Probably a year ago, a good friend and I were talking about meal plans.  She planned out her meals for the entire week, and I thought this was strange.  I could ask her on Friday, what she was having for dinner next Wednesday and she could tell me.  I secretly smiled at myself, although I didn’t have to do it in secret.  She and I only talk via emails and IMs, so she couldn’t see me smile anyway.  I smiled at my own spontaneity.  I smiled because I didn’t know what I was having for lunch that day, much less dinner next Wednesday.   But I think I have realized something...
My current meal plan usually consists of me sitting at my desk at work wondering what we are going to have for dinner that night.  If I can’t think of anything that I am particularly in the mood for, then I browse until I find something that strikes my fancy.  And then I send a text to Justin, saying the first one off of works needs to go by the grocery store and get these items, so I can make the recipe that I had in mind.   In the past couple weeks; I realized that there are a few problems with this plan. 
1.       I hate making several special trips to the grocery store.
2.      Our pantry shelf is full of food, but somehow I rarely cook from it.
3.      Our grocery shopping has no direction.  We just buy things that we think we will eat.  Which is probably how we end up with a pantry shelf full of food.
4.      Justin knows that If he has to go to grocery store for special items, then it is a probably a new recipe night.  And for some reason, Justin gets a little skittish around new recipes.
5.      We end up just ditching dinner altogether, and just going out to eat. 
6.      And there was this one night, where Justin and I ate an entire bag of barbeque chips.  My tummy hurt so much, and to this day I can’t eat barbeque chips.

As you can see, we need a new plan.  So for the first time, a meal plan has been made for the Broderway household.  I asked Justin for any meals, that he wanted to make the list this week.  He had two requests, and I have incorporated them.  Here is what we have.

Friday – Chicken Casserole (A recipe from the 101 Things to do with Chicken Cookbook) It is so good, I should post that recipe in the future.
Saturday – We are attending the Taste of Tucker on Saturday, but we will need a snack for Bama vs. Vandy. I have decided I want to make Hummus.
Sunday – Tacos  Justin loves tacos. 
Monday – Hamburger Helper, Justin’s other request.  And a Garden Salad
Wednesday – Pork Chops, Rice, and Field Peas.
Friday – Slower Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Saturday - A lentil soup or chili.  I am still looking for just the right recipe.

Not only do I have a meal plan, I also have a grocery lists that reflects the meal plan.  I have it all planned out.  I know exactly what I am having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner next week.  I thought when this moment came, I would feel a little of my spontaneity slip away.  But to be honest, I feel good.  I feel excited about the yummy food in my future.  I feel more like a grown-up.  Never thought I would say this, but I feel relieved that I already know what I am having for dinner next Wednesday night.  I also feel like Lindsay is reading this, and secretly smiling that I have come around to her ways.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Camping We Will Go

What a fabulous weekend I have had.  I had the privilege to spend some time with the best homemaker I know, my mom.  Justin and my dad were there, too!  Thursday night we had dinner with another homemaker in training like me, my sister.  Here are the broad strokes of my weekend, with concentration of the great meals we ate.
Thursday night, we had dinner with my sister and JB, her boyfriend of just over a year. If you are randomly reading this, my sister is a chef, no, I mean like a real chef.  I was watching her cook dinner, specifically the rice.  She had all the ingredients out in cute little bowls.  I saw peppers and onions.  And I thought to myself, “She knows that I don’t like peppers and onions, What is she doing?”  She continued to throw more stuff into the rice.  And I was doubtful, real doubtful.  But I thought about my motto when it comes to food, “I will try anything once.”  I tried the rice, and it was AMAZING.  Not only did I eat mine, but I ate Justin’s as well.  You snooze, you lose, honey! (Becky sidenote: Let’s make that rice for Thanksgiving, and you can teach me how to make it.)
Justin’s birthday is quickly approaching, and my sister went through an extreme amount of effort to make him a birthday cake.   Justin saw it, and was in love.  The label is cracked in the pic, but it was an awesome cake.

Friday, just as I imagined, we were up at the crack of dawn headed to the campsite.  Justin and I both love to camp with my parents, but we have never been camping together.  We camped at Open Pond south of Andalusia.  Now, my parents do not rough it.  Yes, they sleep in a tent.  But my parents bring everything they could ever need.  Yes, even a refrigerator!  And they also bring lots of food, good food, too!
The first night, my mom and Justin made Hobo Packets.  The link provides a general idea, but there are many variations. 
We used steak, potatoes, onions, butter, and some seasoning. 
Mix it up.

Wrap it up.

Throw it on the Grill.

So Good! 

Saturday night, while we were listening to the Alabama game on the radio, we made smores!  It was a little chilly and perfect weather for roasting marshmallows by the fire.  We had the original version and the peanutty version.

In spite of the marshmallow fires, they were delicious but so sweet.  In fact, after two smores each, we didn’t want anymore.
We had a great weekend, just spending time with family.  What a great way to kick off what FEELS like the official start of Fall!