Thursday, January 31

Crochet-Along: Mary Jane Slippers

When Erica posted her crochet beanie from The Curious Pug's Crochet-Along, I had to check that out, OBVIOUSLY. I've always been a bit ADHD when it comes to crafts, especially crochet. I tend to be pretty hot and cold with my crochet hook... But lately all I want to do is turn yarn into stuff.

And being that I just made some crochet slippers of my own design, I was stoked to see that the crochet-along for January was some mary jane style slippers (a style I'd been wanting to try out). The pattern was from Good Knits, but I switched it up a bit.

All the slippers I designed myself used either bulky yarn or worsted weight yarn held double (two strands at once), while this pattern called for regular worsted weight using a size H hook. I like my crochet work tight, so I opted for a G hook instead. My feet also tend to be a bit on the narrow side, so the original pattern worked with an H hook was too wide for my foot. This way the number of stitches in the pattern (worked with a smaller hook) was perfect.

The only changes I made to the pattern in regard to the number of stitches/rows are as follows:
  • I did 22 stitches for the base rather than 23. I don't like my slippers to fit too much like socks, so I wanted more of my foot exposed.
  • I did 14 rows of 22dc for the base/sides of the slipper. 
  • For my final row, I did: 9sc, 1sc3tog, 10sc {the sc3tog forms a sort of mild "heel"}. I did a sc rather than a dc because the slipper almost fit over my foot with the 14 rows of dc. 
  • I do two rows of single-crochet for the edging, but on my second row I do [sc, sc, sc2tog] around to make the slippers a little more fitted to my foot... Keeps them from slipping off! 
  • For the straps, I chained 36 and then slip stitched down the length of the chain. I then sewed the straps on rather than incorporating them into the edging. 
When you work a pattern like this, it involves a lot of trial and error as you work. You need to continually check the slipper on your foot to see where you need to add/decrease stitches. Also remember that the yarn will stretch some when you first wear these. :)

The original pattern used one color for the slipper and a contrasting color for the edging and straps. I chose to do the toe in a bright pink and the rest of the slipper in white; I like the color-blocked look. I used a length of the pink yarn to sew my white buttons on the side for an additional little pop of color.

So what do you think of this slipper design? They are surprisingly comfy with the smaller stitches, to be honest. :)

It was so fun to have a prompt for crocheting something cute! I'm looking forward to the next crochet-along... Hop over to The Curious Pug to see the other slippers that were made this month!
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Monday, January 28

Double Dark Chocolate Donuts

I got a donut maker for Christmas. :)) I've been reading about the yummy DIY donut craze for months now, and I was super excited to try it out myself. Admittedly, these donuts are not as tasty as the deep fried beauties found at your local donut shop, but they are significantly healthier and still yummy. Mmm... 

I bought Jessica Segarra's book, Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes, on my Kindle Fire and have made a few of her recipes... This one was inspired by her Dark Chocolate Ganache donut recipe, but I lightened it up quite a bit. 

I spotted these cute little mini-heart sprinkles at Meijer this week and I couldn't resist... How cute would these be for a Valentine's Day treat? And a little different from cupcakes or chocolate covered strawberries. ;) 

Stuff You'll Need:
1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking powder
1/8 t salt
2 T liquid egg substitute (I used egg beaters)
1/4 c + 1 T sugar (seperated)
3/8 c fat-free milk
1 T canola oil
1 T plain fat-free greek yogurt
1/4 t vanilla
1 1/2 oz dark chocolate
2 T + 2 t fat-free half and half
1/2 T unsalted butter
makes 10-12 donuts (will vary depending on donut maker/pan used)
Weight Watchers Pts+: 2 per donut

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. If you don't have a sifter (I don't!), shake ingredients through a mesh strainer into a bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 c sugar and egg substitute. Add milk, oil, greek yogurt, and vanilla. Slowly mix in flour mixture and stir until combined. Slowly pour batter into donut maker/pan. Bake for 4 minutes, flip donuts and bake for another 3-4 minutes. (baking instructions may vary depending on machine) Move to cooling rack and let cool completely. 

In a small saucepan, combine half and half, butter, and 1 T sugar. Bring to a boil. Place roughly chopped dark chocolate in a small bowl. Once cream mixture has boiled, pour over chocolate and let melt. Gently whisk together and let sit until the ganache has thickened. Place sprinkles in another small bowl. When donuts are cool and ganache is set up, dip tops of donuts in ganache and then in sprinkles. Place on a cooling rack over wax paper to catch drippings. Yum yum yum! Now try not to eat them all (not as easy as it sounds!).

These are really easy and relatively quick to whip up. I halved the recipe and made a lot of low-fat substitutions  but you could easy double it for more donuts as well. I just didn't want to have 20+ donuts in my apartment, begging me to eat them, ya dig? ;) 

How cute would these be for little valentine's gifts (if you do that sort of thing)? Have you made donuts before? Any recipe recommendations? 
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Tuesday, January 22

Just Pieces

sorting yarn on the floor // one of the very few decorated walls in my place // a granny blanket I started years ago // 10pm donut making // a colorful rug & handmade slippers

Most of my favorite bloggers do these "snapshot" posts of their lives and I always think to myself, "Wow, their lives look so beautiful! I wish my life was that pretty, geez." But as I've been wanting to take more photos anyway, I decided to look at this as a challenge... A challenge to find and capture the pretty in my life. Or to fake the pretty with clever cropping & photoshop... ;) 

These photos certainly aren't the prettiest and don't even compare to those stellar blogs with pseudo-professional photography, but you've gotta start somewhere, right? Now if I could just manage to clean my apartment I'd have a lot more things to photograph... Maybe this weekend. 
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Friday, January 18

Archive Gallery, Ohh Yeah

Well folks, I've been wanting to do this for quite some time now and it's FINALLY HERE! :) I made an archive gallery for my past DIY projects posted here on the blog. And actually, making this gallery made me realize that I haven't posted nearly as many crafty projects as I had thought! Gotta fix that ASAP. ;)
Right now I just have two categories: Crafts & Furniture. I'm hoping to add more with time, but for now this is good. :) 

Check it out here or click the "Archive Galley" link on the sidebar. Let me know what you think!
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Wednesday, January 16

Quickie Blog ReDesign

I've been wanting to redesign my little bloggy for a while now, and finally just took the plunge today. I figured since I'm melting into my couch anyway... May as well do something that requires little energy! ;)

I liked my previous colors and icons, but really, they weren't very me. Pastels? Not really a palette I incorporate into my life.

So I went with navy and black; a dark color scheme that I think will flow with my photos more naturally. I made social media icons! Not difficult, but when you're rusty, it takes some time...

I also redid my post signature. The heart is hand-drawn and my name is written in my sloppy, computer handwriting. 

Overall, I like it. :) I'd like to incorporate a "pin this" link soon as well, and I want to spruce up my sidebar. I really want to make category pages, but that seems like a daunting task at the moment. 

What do you think of the new design? 
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Tuesday, January 15

The Coziest Crochet Slippers

 I have never had much confidence in my accessory-making abilities. I don't know why, but I've always been more of a crochet-in-rounds kindda girl. But then my brother's girlfriend asked me to make her a crochet infinity scarf and matching ear warmer this Christmas... And I haven't stopped crocheting wearables since.

I posted my first pair of slippers, crocheted on a total whim, to my Instagram & Facebook page, and the response was not what I had anticipated! People seemed to love the slippers, so I crocheted more and more... Product development, I guess. 

I've made a few different styles, but this is definitely my favorite thus far. They're crazy comfy and crazy soft. I made them from a wool blend yarn, and I couldn't be happier with the result. I'm selling them in my Etsy shop now, but am thinking of sharing the pattern here on the blog as well. I'm all about DIY, so it seems hypocritical to keep others from DIYing something that I would totally DIY... But if you like them and don't crochet, check out my shop {link at the top}. :) 

Also, I bought a pom pom maker (!!!) this week and have been making pom poms to pass the time while I fight this nasty cold. ;) :) 

Sunday, January 13

Glitter Jars DIY

I. LOVE. GLITTER. Who doesn't, right? Probably most men. But I love it! So when I wanted to craft some containers for my kitchen I knew I wanted to go with GLITTER. ;)

Those of you who follow me on Instagram saw a peek of these already. But now you can make your own!

Cute, crafty kitchen containers are pretty common I think. I've toyed with buying some kitchen containers for a while... I've kept my flour and sugar and whatever in ziploc bags for a longggg time {not cute!}.

So I made a plethora of jars! You know they sell mason jars at the dollar store? True story. I got some bigger jars at Target too though. I have more large containers to decorate, but I'll do that later. And sure, these containers aren't necessarily large enough to hold all of each thing {sugar, salt, flour, cornmeal}, but they make each thing accessible and they're cute enough that I'll actually keep them out rather than shoved in a cupboard out of sight and out of reach.

Right now I have them on the bookshelf that boyfriend DIYed for my kitchen this Christmas. I'm thinking of moving the mixer, installing some wall shelves above the actual bookshelf, and moving the jars to the shelves then. But we'll see. 

Stuff you'll need: 
Clean & dry glass jars, Elmer's glue, extra fine glitter, clear acrylic sealer (spray), paint brushes
**To contain my mess, I also used a wax paper lined baking sheet, a large cardboard box, an unused foam brush, and paper towels!**

What you'll do:
  1. "Paint" a design on your jar with the glue. -- I tried taping designs and using contact paper, but really, free-handing the patterns worked best. If your design gets sloppy or you change your mind, wipe off the glue while it's still wet with a paper towel.
  2. Holding your jar over a wax paper baking sheet, sprinkle glitter over the wet glue generously
  3. Gently shake the excess glitter off your jar and onto the wax paper. When you're done glittering, you can roll up the wax paper and use it as a "funnel" to pour the glitter back into the container it came in. 
  4. Let the glue dry for at least an hour or so. Then, using a dry foam brush or a paper towel gently brush the excess glitter (all around your design) from your jar. 
  5. Once the design has fully dried and all excess glitter has been brushed off the jar, spray your jar with acrylic sealer. I used a large cardboard box to spray into since it's freezing outside, just make sure you crack a window or two to vent out the fumes. Put a rolled piece of paper into your jar to keep the sealer from getting inside your jar. 
  6. Follow the directions on your can of sealer, and apply 1 - 3 more coats of sealer, inspecting the jar between coats. 
The sealer makes the jars washable, but only hand washable  And you still don't want to "wash" the glitter parts... Just the inside. 

This one ^^ is one of my favorites. And I did use painters tape to guide the straight line for this one, but the line was pretty sloppy when I peeled off the tape, so I cleaned it up with paper towel before applying the glitter.

These would also make really cute storage jars for pretty craft supplies like embroidery floss, buttons, or rhinestones... Or maybe a pencil cup for your desk! :)

**I used basic Elmer's school glue, Recollections Extra Fine Glitter in Champagne from Michaels, and Krylon Acrylic Clear Coat Sealer.**
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Saturday, January 12

On Blogging

I confess, I am still a pretty new blog-reader. And an even newer blogger. It's like I discovered this whole new world when I started reading blogs. A world that I had no idea existed but was everything I love about writing and reading and the internet... I am addicted to blog world, without question.

Showin' off my current favorite winter accessories on Instagram

That being said... Blogging is hard! I had read other bloggers' posts about the surprising time-commitment and the photography challenges and the struggles with creating content. Despite all that, I thought I would be fine. I used to take photos, good photos, all the time. I've always excelled at writing, and shoot, I craft all the time as is. But let me tell you... Blogging is friggin' hard! Sure, I make crafts, but now I have to think about creating and capturing attractive process photos, planning when to take those photos with good lighting, editing those photos, and laying out a post. I love writing, but really struggled to find my "voice" in the blog-world for some reason, and have felt quite awkward at times in my posts. I used to take photos, but to say I'm rusty is an understatement. I struggle with framing for God's sake, a problem I never remember having ever.

I went into blogging with all these expectations of myself. Post often. Post quality, editorial content focused on particular subjects (crafts, DIY, decor, food). Document with quality photos. Write professionally, but with a relatable voice.

I have not met those standards, in my personal opinion. I've realized, in my still-new blogging career, that not every post needs to be about something. This is my blog! I can post simple life updates. Simple observations. Photos taken on my phone (realistically, the way I take most photos). And really, I like blogs that are more about the author than they are about content. Yeah, I love editorial blogs too, but only if they stay relatively personal in nature. It feels good to feel like you know the author in a sense... To feel connected to the person behind the words.

And so, I am taking some pressure off myself. I am going to try and post more regularly, without feeling like I have to have a new craft to share. Because realistically, I am the kind of girl, the kind of crafter, who often starts a project on a whim, puts it down, and finishes it three months later. Ya know what I mean? ;)

I think I have finally found my voice here. I feel like I can write as me... As I would if I were texting a friend... Without feeling like I have to be too "appropriate" or "professional." I'm just me. I'm the kind of girl who overuses emoticons and sometimes shortens words so that they look the way they sound (going = goin'). Years ago, a friend told me that she can always understand exactly what I mean in my texts because I write them as if I were saying the words in person. To this day I think of that as an enormous compliment, and I want that to be true of my blog posts as well.

In other news, I'm no good at formal "new years resolutions," but I have some ideas for goals for the coming months... Hopefully I'll flesh those out soon and I can post about those. I'm also SICK! Yuck. But at least it's giving me lots of time to cozy up with my yarn and crochet needle. :)
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Wednesday, January 2

A Fresh Start

In the past few days, I've seen a zillion posts about looking back and looking ahead, and this one isn't going to be much different. 

2011 was a great year for me overall. I fell in love. I transferred to a college that is much more me than my previous school. I discovered a passion for health education. I lost over 25 pounds doing Weight Watchers with my mom. I aced my classes. I moved out my parent's house and out of the dorms, into a house with my cousin. I was generally a really happy girl in 2011. 

Unfortunately the end of 2011 was not so kind: My grandfather passed away rather suddenly a few days before Thanksgiving. My uncle had a massive heart "thing" during which he was airlifted to a hospital for emergency surgery. The aunt and uncle I am closest to and have always admired separated. 

I was still optimistic at that year's end; I was determined to keep on keepin' on. I tend to do that though, ignore things thinking that will keep any problems from developing only to have it all fall apart later with me totally unprepared. All these family issues I mentioned set me up for a pretty rough and rocky year. 

In 2012, my weight loss that I was so proud of and encouraged by was completed derailed by grandpa's death coupled with the holiday season, and I just could not get back on track. My relationship with my cousin/roommate grew strained and eventually fell apart. I freaked out and broke up with my loving boyfriend because of all my unresolved issues. I spent too much money. I floundered in a few classes, succeeded in others. And I gained back more than half of the weight I'd lost in 2011. 

2012 was generally kind of sucky. Granted, I did move into my first solo apartment, strengthened my relationship with the boy I am hopelessly in love with, rediscovered who I am and want to be, switched my major back to a real passion of mine, and started this bloggy-blog.

2012... Kind of a wash. 2013 is going to be better. I have big, beautiful, exciting plans for this year, intimidating as they may be. I am graduating college (!!!), planning to get a new place with Scotty when my lease is up, making my creative passions a priority, budgetting my money and my calories, and working towards a healthier life.

Here's to the future, a fresh start. 

What are you goals for the new year?
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