Fingerless Mitts – Craftsmas 2011 Project 2

First of all, I know I am waaay behind. I’ve been incredibly busy, and as much as I love crafting, there have been other priorities, so I’m going to extend my deadline to the end of the winter.

This next project is something that I also didn’t get from Pinterest, but trust me that you can find lots of these on the site. Fingerless mitts are wonderful in that they keep your hands warm but don’t limit your mobility. i.e., you can still type, text, dial the phone, etc. while having toasty warm hands. I got my Aunt Lynn’s name for our Christmas trade, and she is notorious for cold hands, so I decided to bust out my DPNs (double-pointed knitting needles) and whip up some of these. I just made up the pattern as I went, and I plan to get it written up and post it here just as soon as I can (which will definitely not be before January 16)

 

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Shhh…

It may seem I have fallen off of my craft horse, but fear not! There are projects in progress, but they are going to be Christmas gifts, so I’ve got to keep them on the down low until they have been gifted!

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More knitting!

Remember when I was so excited because my photo of my knitted gnome got some love on mochimochiland.com? Well I took it for a photo competition she hosts every year, and I made it into the semifinalists! Next step is getting lots o’love in the comments. If I get enough, I’ll be a finalist and be up for an official vote to win some awesome knitting loot!

I’d appreciate any help I can get!

http://mochimochiland.com/2011/12/semifinalists-11-group-two/

(I am LoveInIndy and my photo is called Tiny Gnome at the beach! And it looks like this)

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Illumination – Craftsmas 2011 Project 1

I have had my eyes open for some new lampshades or lamps for our bedroom for a while. We had one nice lamp and one lamp that was originally designed (by me) to be plugged into an outlet controlled by a light switch. There aren’t any of those in our room, so it was kind of awkward and the shade was always messed up.

I decided to do some lamp shade shopping on Black Friday, because, honestly, I feel like most places want an arm and a leg for a lamp shade. It’s not uncommon to find a lampshade I like at Kohl’s or JcPenney’s website and the price tag is a whopping $45. For one. That kind of price is just not in the budget, so I decided, on a whim, to check on Lowe’s website, and hallelujah. They had several shades that I loved, that matched my room and that were in my budget, at $12 and $15 apiece. It said they had some in stock at the Lowe’s that is conveniently one block from my house, so I hit the showers and headed out. They had both shades I particularly liked, but they were drastically different sizes (something that is hard to know when looking at a website.) I threw both in my cart and hit the spray paint aisle. If I was going to buy these shades, why not go all the way? While I wasn’t opposed to the mismatched look, I happened to have two matched lamps anyway.

If these look familiar, it’s because they once upon a time lived in my mom’s living room.

The shade I bought didn’t need a harp (the wire thing that holds up a lampshade), so I took those off and threw them away. Could I have kept them, just in case I ever needed them again? Yes. Do I need to do that? No. Probably won’t need them, and if I do I can just buy some new ones.

I gave the lamps a good dusting and then took a piece of sandpaper to them, just to rough the surface up a bit for the spray paint (per the spray paint can’s request.) Two quick coats later, and I had these lovely little lamps.

Per the spray paint can’s request, I let them sit for about an hour (the can only wanted 45 minutes, but I wanted to appease it so I gave it a little bit of extra time in the garage). They were dry to the touch, so I moved them to the porch and the Great Lampshade Decision began.

I loved this pattern, and kind of liked the slim look they gave the lamps:

But wondered if they were big enough.

Looks like a no. See how the light bulb sticks above the shade? I thought about getting a smaller bulb, but they are our reading lamps and I wanted to make sure they were plenty bright.

Bigger shades! I didn’t like these quite as much, but as much as I tried to believe otherwise, the other ones were too small.

The finished product

Color close up

New old reading lamps

Maybe that’s too many photos for a simple spray paint job, but I was pretty proud of them.

Total time: 3 hours (includes trip to Lowe’s, sanding, spray painting and dry-to-the-touch time. For good measure I let them sit on the porch for about 12 hours, but it was only 3 hours of being engaged in the project.)

Total costs:

Spray paint: about $6

Shades: $15 apiece

Already had the lightbulbs and sandpaper.

 

(I didn’t find this on pinterest, though I imagine there are similar upgrades)

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The 25 days of Craftsmas: An ode to Pinterest

If you have not yet discovered Pinterest.com, let me give you a quick rundown. Pinterest is an online bulletin board, where people attach links to things they love. It varies from pictures of attractive men to instructions for ingenious DIY children’s Halloween costumes. What you find there changes with the season and the closest holiday, and I love it. You can spend an hour there, you can spend 30 seconds there and you will be entertained either way. Some people choose to simply browse, other take a more proactive role and pin things they find there or add their own from the expanses of the internet. I am somewhere in the middle. I have several cork boards, including a knitting one, a food one, a home organization one and a home inspiration one. While I frequently repin things I find there, I rarely create my own. I haven’t a clue why I do it that way, it’s just the way I prefer. Another beauty of pinterest. Be as involved as you want to be.

I pin and pin and pin, and yet I have to actually make one of the projects from Pinterest. Granted, some things I won’t be able to accomplish until I actually own a house, but a lot of them don’t have any such caveats. So I’m setting myself a challenge. This Christmas season, I am going to make some of those pins a reality.

Now, I won’t pretend like I think I can make 25 crafts in December, because I would definitely get behind, so my goal is going to be 15. Also, they will not all be Christmas projects, because I just think I would get a little tired of that and then I would have to put all of my heard work away in January. Budget will be a big factor, with an emphasis on reusing and recycling things I already have. Also, I am just going to start now. There’s the challenge with some fast and loose rules.

And, while we’re at it, if anyone wants to join me in this challenge, please do! Comment on this post with your goal for number of projects and any other rules you’ve set for yourself, and I’ll feature you and your projects on the blog!

Happy crafting!

 

p.s. if you’re curious: http://pinterest.com/loveinindy/

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Apple Butter Season

For a few years now, I have made a tradition of making homemade apple butter each fall.

This year’s batch turned out especially delicious, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you all. The recipe is from a canning kit I got Paul for his birthday a couple years ago, with a slight modification.

First things first, we upgraded this year from a paring knife to this lovely contraption…

For $25, we peeled and cored 5 lbs of apples in less than 30 minutes. Worth the investment? I think so! It can also peel potatoes. Mashed potatoes, anyone?

In just 12 short hours (of a house smelling of delicious tart apples drowning in cinnamon and cider) this…

became this…

Then Paul put it in jars.

And we canned them!

They all canned properly, which was really exciting for it being both of our first attempt.

Here’s the recipe:

5 lbs. of apples, peeled and cored

1 cup of apple cider (We used apple cider purchased at the orchard where we got the apples. We chose their option without preservatives)

3 cups of sugar

1 tsp of cinnamon

The recipe called for cooking it really hard several times, but I opted for the slow cooked method. I put it in the crock pot for 1 hour on high and then about 11 hours on low. Time can be adjusted based on how thick and dark you want it to be.

Some other fall highlights in our household:

Our Jack o'Lanterns - Paul carves Yoda and I carved the sheep

Tucker loves the leaves! (Because people have asked before what is on his nose, I thought I'd mention that he isn't wearing a muzzle. It's called a gentle leader, and makes it easier to control him when he is on a leash. It also keeps him from choking himself out, which is good. Apparently a mother dog would gently bite her puppy on the nose when he is misbehaving, so this device sort of mimcs that. I highly recommend it if you have a dog who wants to go a million miles an hour on the leash, like Tucker. It doesn't inhibit his ability to bark, eat, drink or pant. Sometimes Tucker has a little trouble with the panting due to the combination of his massive cheeks and the gentle leader, but if that is the case we just take a quick break from the gentle leader so he can cool down.)

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Chipotle chicken burritos

We love making salmon tacos but we’re always left with half a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Last time we made them, I also had some chicken thighs in the freezer that needed to hit the road and decided that burritos sounded like a great idea. I looked some for a recipe on allrecipes.com, but in the end came up with my own recipe. Here goes!

Slow cooked chipotle chicken

3 chicken thighs
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tequila
2 tbsp lime juice
2 large chipotle peppers in adobo, plus sauce
2 tbsp fresh cilantro

Throw them all in a crock pot and cook on low until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and falls off the bone. Note: This takes a little while. I think I left it in there for about 5 hours, stirring every once in a while.

(Sorry I somehow end up with a lot of photos of raw chicken on this blog)

When the chicken was ready, I sauteed some green peppers and onions.

Next, I added the chicken and some quartered fresh cherry tomatoes to the skillet just until the tomatoes were heated.

Then we layered rice, black beans I had whipped up in the pressure cooker and the chicken/pepper mixture on a tortilla that had been steamed slightly in our rice cooker. Microwaving for a few seconds would work, too. Heating the tortillas makes them stick to themselves a bit better, so when you roll up your burrito, it stays that way.

After we rolled the burrito, we smothered them in green chile sauce and cheese and microwaved them just long enough to melt the cheese.

Then we added a couple dollops of sour cream, some jalapenos and a few more fresh tomatoes, poured ourselves a couple of margaritas, and enjoyed! They were awesome, if I do say so myself. (Paul agreed)

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Living room revamp

I’ve been dreaming for a while now about updating the chairs in our living room. The ones we had weren’t a matching pair, but they were the right color for my living-room-color-scheme and I thought they worked well enough for the room. Especially since we already had them.

Our mismatched-already-had-them living room chairs, very early in our living room set up

They also were comfortable, though we honestly rarely sat in them. We mostly just sat on the couch, and after we got the rug I started to sit on the floor more.

I had kind of been drooling over this guy for a while, but the price tag stopped me from pursuing it. It’s Crate & Barrel’s Klyne collection (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/furniture/chairs/klyne-chair-and-a-half/s237445) The plan was to try to find a similar chair and a half in a similar color. I have been trying to incorporate a burnt orange into the room for a while but haven’t found anything quite right. I also love the couch with chaise in this collection in a lovely gray color, so maybe it’ll stay on the list for future major-living-room-upgrade some time in the future when we can afford to spend money on things like awesome furniture. (Greer and I actually went to Crate and Barrel a while back to check if the thing is actually comfortable, partially in hopes that it wouldn’t be so I could stop pining for it. It’s amazingly comfortable. So now I want it more.)

When Paul’s grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, we went to Wichita. The day after the funeral, we went to his home with a U-Haul and our three families (My parents-in-law, Paul and I and Paul’s brother Keith and his wife Emily) with the goal of taking home a few momentos. While we were there I kind of fell in love with this green velvety chair in his living room, and Emily and I decided it definitely needed to be in my craft room. Turns out, it had a mate in another room, and so one chair that made me happy turned into a total revamp of 4 (yes, 4) rooms in our house.

Most of those rooms are still not ready. In two cases, time is the problem. In the third, I’m just not coming up with a great way to rearrange the furniture that is in there, but I’ll talk more about those later.

For now, here are some shots of our new-and-improved living room.

Changes:

New-to-us green chairs replaced mismatched brown and tan chairs, while also adding a really awesome pop of color which is something I have been craving for quite a while. We already had those brown throw pillows (Mom gave them to us, she had relocated them to her basement then passed them along when they matched our living room.) The brown ottomans came in a set with the longer brown ottoman that used to sit under the window(also from Mom, a Christmas gift). The chairs are in great shape and are really comfortable, especially with an ottoman to prop your feet on! I am thinking about relocating that sewing machine cabinet and plant, but haven’t decided for sure yet. I think the plant for sure has to go elsewhere, just because it is too crowded. We also plan to hang a clock or a shelf with a clock on it above the sewing machine cabinet. My search for a clock has not gone well. I’ve actually been searching for months and haven’t come up with anything quite right.

That art on the left wall is also something we brought from Wichita. It was done by a Wichita-local artist and has a whole list of shows that it has been in on the back, but we haven’t done much research on the artist herself. The green blanket on the couch is actually a shawl, but it’s the right color.

That radio cabinet (in front of the window, between the green chairs) is also something we brought with us from Wichita. It’s very cool and everything still works, it has a turntable and a radio. Paul and I did a little bit of radio-surgery to fix the tuner, which didn’t work when we brought it home. The string that made the tuner work had broken, and it took a few tries, but we were able to replace it. (We ended up using light blue embroidery thread. The light blue makes no different, the embroidery thread seemed like it would be strong and hold up well. Also, I already had it.)

On top of the radio are a couple of other neat mementos/heirlooms. On the right there is an old handguide for Electrical Engineers (which is what Paul is) that we found in his grandfather’s bookshelf, and on top of it is a tiny spy-cam that we found in a closet. On the left is another very cool old camera. Still not sure if they work.

The vase of flowers is actually something I am very proud of. Those artificial yellow glads were hanging on the posts around the dance floor at our wedding, and I’ve had them in a bag upstairs ever since, hoping to find a good use for them. I thought they would look great in a tall vase, but wasn’t sure where to put them. Once we put that radio under the window I knew that was where I wanted them to go. The vase was a wedding gift from Paul’s aunt and uncle who live near Wichita. The glads were a little too tall, so I cut them down to size and filled the vase with glass marbles (mostly white and clear with a few yellow ones mixed in) so it wouldn’t tip over.

That ottoman that was under the window is now next to the TV(the entrance to the living room is just to the left). The wreath hanging above it was a gift from my parents in memory of Paul’s grandpa. I also added the tiny basket with the yellow liner to the right to wrangle Netflix DVDs and library movies. Also to add some more yellow to the room, since that is supposed to be one of the room’s accent colors and it wasn’t around much.

This is what it looks like standing in the kitchen looking into the living room.
Paul’s grandfather also had some awesome old suitcases in his basement, and they were also in just the right color.

That round white one on top? Guess what it really is.

Think of something crazier


It’s a hairdryer!

This lamp is also something kind of fun that Paul really wanted from his grandpa’s house. It’s actually meant to be hanging, but we couldn’t decide on a good place to hang it, and while we were standing in the living room with Paul holding it up, a light went on! (har har)

Ok. If we’re totally honest I wasn’t completely sold on it at first. But it does look great when it’s lit up (I had only ever seen it off) and he really wanted it. So what was I to do? Part of what was also throwing me was coming up with a place to hang it. In the end, this looks pretty cool, the shelf look pretty awful beforehand and we didn’t have to screw 5 holes in the ceiling to find a stud! (like we did with the pot rack in the kitchen) I would definitely like to have it hanging over an armchair in a cozy little corner someday, but said cozy little corner doesn’t exist in this particular house. Someday! Someday the lamp will have a perfect home, and we’ll be glad to have a little piece of LaVerne around.

An overview of the other half of the room:

So that’s how one room has shaped up! Three more are in the works, including what I was afraid was going to be a super daunting project. Luckily, that project worked out easier than I thought it would, but more on that later!

In the meantime:

Tucker in a t-shirt! (Sorry it's blurry)

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Zoom zoom

Despite my hopes of getting some pictures up here of our (awesome) house switcharoos, the true fact of the matter is that the house has gone backwards this week, looking even more like we just moved in and have not in reality been living there for 8+ months. But sometimes things get worse before they get better, right?

This weekend we don’t have many plans, other than heading into Broad Ripple to enjoy the first Colts game of the season at some or the other bar, so I’m hoping to get things straightened up and get some nice pictures for you.

In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a quick update about a very exciting occurrence in our life!

On August 27, Paul and I became the proud owners of a Mazdaspeed3 (Yes, I’m pretty sure it is supposed to be all one word like that. Yes, I also think it is weird) This is the first major purchase we have made as a married couple! It’s a 2011, but gently used, and still has the new car smell. We’re pretty sure it got repossessed, which is a bummer for someone out there, but we’re glad to have it. This particular car is only made in Japan, so they have been in short supply since the earthquake/tsunami, and we were lucky to get our hands on one. I also think it’s kind of neat that it came over on a long boat ride, but I’m also kind of a dork.

When we started looking for dreaming about buying a car, Paul and I were on pretty different pages about what we wanted. There wasn’t anything wrong with the Grand Am, I was just ready for a change. I wanted something practical, Paul wanted something fun. We started by looking at cars that kind of fit both bills, such as the VW Golf GTI and the Subaru WRX (though we weren’t actually able to find a WRX to test drive as they sell faster than they can be made, and people who want them want them to have the least number of miles possible so dealerships won’t let you test drive them anyway. Apparently they are pretty awesome.) Both of us were super psyched up about the VW Golf GTI, and were both let down pretty hard. Not that it isn’t a great car, but it definitely didn’t make us want to take it home. right. now. (Though I was a big fan of the plaid seats!)

What I had more in mind was a crossover (an SUV on a car chassis) and we only ended up driving one, but we couldn’t imagine a single thing we would change about it, and are actually pretty sure that if we someday find that we need more people/stuff hauling space, we’re just going to get one of them. It was the Subaru Forester and we loved it. Tons of space, smooth ride, quiet ride, minimal rolling in the turns (for an SUV type thing). After we drove the Forester, we decided to check out the used car dealership nearby (they actually told us they had a Mazdaspeed3 coming in, which is why we went. It turned out to be a Mazda 3, which isn’t what we were looking for. More on what the “speed” means later.)

At the used car dealership, they just happened to have a MiniCooper on display, and it was yellow, so naturally I had to drive it. It was SO much fun, and that put me in a “I’m young. I don’t have kids. Maybe I need something fun” mode. After that, I was pretty much sold on el yellow Mini, but felt like the wisest thing to do would be to do a bit more research, see how much other similar Minis went for, etc. We were pretty much in a “Let’s do it” mindset, when Paul suggested that we go to the Mazda dealership and just try a Speed3. It had been on his list of “super awesome fun cars” since the start, and we hadn’t actually ever driven one.

My first thought driving it was “It’s so fun!” It was as fun as the Mini to drive, and at least 100 times more practical. It is 4 doors (which was on my original list of “musts”), it was fun to drive, it had a hatch big enough for the dog to ride comfortably in. But this brought up a whole different decision. The Mini had so much personality and pizazz, and was just a fun car. In the end, the combo of practical and fun won out, and I’m so happy we made the decision we did. The Speed3 also has personality, and it’s kind of fun driving around in it and thinking “This car is turbo charged and crazy quick and it’s disguised as a hatchback!”

The Speed3 (not the regular 3) has a manual transmission and a turbo charger, so it’s really fast and a lot of fun to drive. Paul could probably give you a better description, but this will have to do for now.

More about the house to come this weekend!

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Happy Labor Day!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day! Today Paul and I are taking things apart with the purpose of putting them back together in a better way. So what that means for us is that we’re doing lots of work and the house looks like we just moved in. It also means several new exciting things to blog about! More to come later this week.

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