Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Handmade Christmas

This Christmas I tried to make a few handmade Christmas gifts, and they were a big hit!

First, I crocheted a scarf, called the "Mirror Lake Scarf," from the Naturally Caron website.  I made it for my sister-in-law in a burgundy red.  It came out beautiful and she really liked it.  Turns out I made it in her favorite color!

Then, I knit a scarf for my Mom, called "The Flower Scarf," from a free pattern on Ravelry.  I knit it in an alpaca/pima cotton blend and it came out very soft.  I also used a button and bead instead of knitting a bead for the center of the flower.  Beautiful!

Finally, I didn't leave out our favorite four-footed family members, nephew dog and brother dog received the same cable-knit sweaters in the perfect colors and sizes for them.  Love it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!!!

Christmas is just around the corner, this year seems to have flown by!  This season is even more fun this year, since Little Man is really getting into the spirit of the season this year.  He only needs to hear a Christmas carol once or twice and then he knows it, right now it is a soundtrack of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," (it started out as Reindolph, but that phase has already ended ;o( ) and "Run, Run Rudolph."  I love it!

The day before Thanksgiving Little Man and I were so excited to find our local station playing Christmas music on the way to school.  We were a whole car full of "WooHoos!"  I thought, finally I have my little Christmas partner in crime, even more reason for my Hubby to get into the Christmas mood!

I've decorated the house, switched the iPod to the Holiday genre and I've enjoyed a few of my fave egg nog lattes at Starbucks, now for decorating my blog...

Friday, October 29, 2010

October Smoothie

So this month I found that adding a handful of spinach to a smoothie doesn't change the flavor much, but adds some great healthy greens to my Little Man's diet!

This month our favorite smoothie has been the:
Pinkalicious Smoothie
1 banana
1 cup mixed frozen fruit (mango, pineapple, peach, strawberry)
1 cup milk
handful of spinach (optional)

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September Smoothie

Over the summer Little Man and I have become addicted to smoothies with our lunch.  I find they are a great way to sneak fruits into his diet, since he can be kind of picky about that.  I'm going to try out a new one every month and see how he likes it, this is our favorite right now!

Bananablue Smoothie
 - 1 banana
 - 1 cup frozen blueberries
 - 1 cup milk of choice

Blend until consistency you like, the frozen blueberries help thicken the smoothie up while keeping it healthier than using ice cream!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Salem Falls" by Jodi Picoult

I just finished "Salem Falls" by Jodi Picoult, who is one of my favorite authors.  It takes place in the town of Salem Falls, New Hampshire.  The main character, Jack St. Bride, has just been freed from prison after spending 8 months there.  You come to find out that he was in prison after being falsely accused of sexually assaulting a minor.

It turns out that this comes back to haunt St. Bride in this new place he is hoping to call home.  The daughter of a man in town who has headed up a witch hunt against St. Bride comes forward accusing him of assaulting her.

This story is told from several different points of view, as is usually Picoult's style, always the perfect style book to become a movie.  

Some of my other faves by Picoult are: "Plain Truth," "Vanishing Acts," "The Pact," and another that was made into a movie last year, "My Sister's Keeper."

Monday, June 21, 2010

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

I just finished reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett and loved it!  It is the first book published by this author and I love the way she writes.  I heard that this is going to be made into a movie very soon and it is easy to see why.  

This book takes place in the early 1960's and was written as if from the point of view of three different women, one, Miss Skeeter, is a white woman who feels more out of place with the friends she grew up with that she would in a completely new place, two, Aibileen, a black woman who has accepted what she thinks is her place in life and that she is growing old and just can't change things and three, Minny, a younger black woman who thinks that change must be coming for the south.  "The Help" is set in the times of segregation when Martin Luther King, Jr. goes on his famous march and change is definitely taking place throughout the country.
I loved how well I got to know the three main characters and to see how close they grew and how many of the people in Jackson, Mississippi had intertwining stories in ways you didn't necessarily see coming.  Of course, since I know that this is going to be made into a movie I tried to picture who I thought would be perfect for the characters, here's what I think:

Miss Skeeter - Maggie Gyllenhaal
Aibileen - Oprah Winfrey
Minny - Monique
Leroy - Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Constantine - Holly Berry
Elizabeth Leefolt - Kirsten Dunst
Hilly Holbrook - Anna Kendrick
Stuart Witworth - Ryan Phillippe
Celia Foote - Scarlet Johannsen

Read it for yourself and see what you think!  It's a fast book and you won't want to put it down.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gaylyn's Designs on Etsy!

I've now set up my shop on Etsy, and just posted my first four items for sale.  My shop is called Gaylyn's Designs, of course and I specialize in sewn, knitted and crocheted pieces.

My first items are drawstring bags and zipper pouches.  I use drawstring bags while knitting and crocheting my other projects.  They are nice because they protect your work and they are easy to identify pick up and take-along anywhere.  I use my zipper pouches for taking along my craft notions, such as scissors, needles, stitch markers, tape measure and all.  This way my crafting tools are always handy!  I love the cute fabrics that help me remember which project is in which.

These can also make great reusable gift bags.  Those who receive them can use them for travel or their own crafting!

Check out my shop, I will be posting more for sale in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"South of Broad" by Pat Conroy

I just finished "South of Broad," the first book I've read by Pat Conroy.  I loved it!  It takes place in Charleston, SC, hence the name, referring to Broad Street in the city itself.  I chose this book because we were taking a trip to Charleston this past month and reading a book referring to many of the places there made me feel like I knew the city already myself.  

This was a sweeping novel that takes place over a 20 year time period starting in the summer of 1969.  You come to know a group of misfit high school seniors as told from the perspective of one of them, Leo King.  Leo is an endearing every man type of character that allows all readers to relate to him and see how he can have such varying relationships with his group of very close friends.  This story involves many story-lines crucial to time itself, ie racial integration and the AIDS epidemic.  The story itself ends in the summer of 1989 when Hurricane Hugo ravaged Charleston and it becomes a key part of the novel. 

I would highly recommend this book, I can guarantee you will be hooked within the first few pages and it has many twists and turns which you won't even see coming.  You will get to know the characters so well it will be a story you don't want to end.  I think I've found a new favorite author!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Knit, Charleston, South Carolina

A couple of weeks ago, Hubby, Little Man and I took our first family trip that was just us and not to visit family.  We decided to go to Charleston, South Carolina, and stayed in the historic district.  It was beautiful and awesome to think about such an old city and all that had happened there...

Of course, I had to do a search and see if there was a knit shop in the area, then try to see how I could sneak in a trip.  Not too hard though, Hubby is very supportive of my hobby and Little Man always wants to make new friends.  I found "Knit" in the historic area on Wentworth Street and it was a very large shop. As with all shops it had its pros and cons.

First, what I loved about the shop.  They have a great sitting area, in the midst of patterns, so you can sit, work, chat or be inspired to create something new.  The yarn is a plenty, you can find yarns of any type, color, you dream.  The owner was on site the day I shopped, not sure if that is always the case, but it is nice to know who that is.  Prices seemed very good, on both patterns and yarn.  I walked out with a Classic Elite Yarns Gallery premiere book.  I also bought Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima yarn, one word, beautiful!!

Now, for what I wasn't so crazy about.  They don't wind your yarn, if you would like it wound (which is really necessary for some hanks of yarn if you don't want a huge knotted mess) they point you in the direction and you must do it yourself.  Kind of shocking since I was the only customer when I was checking out and the owner had another helpful salesperson working.  Plus, I hadn't used a yarn swift on my own before.  The owner set me up with two hanks on the swift which proceeded to get knotted in the midst of winding.  Ugghhh!!  Luckily the helpful salesperson was nearby and I asked for help before the mess got much worst.  She was also more helpful at getting me started on the next hank, one at a time.
Another downside was that, as much as I like dogs, there were 2 schnauzers on hand, so not the best situation for those with any animal allergies, like Hubby, who suffered through it, or those who don't want dog hair in their work.  Some ended up in my yarn when the salesgirl helped wind the mess.   (Hubby pointed it out later on, he pays attention to every detail.)

So, if I was in town I would go again, but I would probably pick a yarn that was in a nice ball and didn't require winding... or maybe someone will read this and decide winding yarn would be faster done by them and a nice service to offer to customers.  ;o)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Trying Crochet, Round by Round

This year I've decided to take on becoming a crocheter as well as a knitter! Perfect for me too since I like to have multiple projects going at once and you can only have so much on your needles.

Of course, I never pick easy things, so I'm working on the "Moorish Mosaic Afghan" first fromInterweave Crochet magazine. My afghan will be in purples blues and cream, and it varies in color as it is crocheted into the different shapes that make up the afghan. There are octagons, triangles and squares. Overall there will be 30 octagons, so I started there.

Check out these pictures of the making of one octagon round by round!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saving $$$$, Little by Little...

Recently I was over at a friend's home for a playdate and saw that she had a great soap dispenser. It created foaming handsoap, which is great for little one's hands, out of liquid soap and water. I checked it out and saw that there was a fill line for soap and a fill line for water, then the pump did the work. So I started thinking any foaming handsoap dispenser should really work the same way, and I since I always have a couple around I gave it a try. Check it out for yourself, it's an awesome money saver since little hands would waste a lot of regular handsoap...

Take an empty foaming handsoap dispenser and fill it 1/6 with regular liquid handsoap. Then fill almost to the top with water, it may foam a bit. Put in the foaming pump and ta-da, you have created foaming handsoap. This is a great trick since a refill bottle of soap is usually about $5, a single bottle should last for about 2 years at least depending on how many people are in your household.

Just something I wanted to share...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Bamboo Wrap

I finally finished my bamboo wrap just in time for some beautiful spring weather! I love it! It is made out of a natural bamboo blend yarn and is one of my favorite colors since I tend to go for sea blues. The "Pleated Wrap" pattern was by the infamous Debbie Bliss and although I have so much I want to make that is by her, this is my first finished product. I learned a useful technique with the pleating that I know I will come back to.

Check out the pattern in the Debbie Bliss Spring 2009 magazine (it is featured on the cover).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Trying to Sneak in Some Veggies!

This week I decided to attempt to sneak more veggies in Little Man's diet. Something that can be a little hard to do at times now, it's all a texture thing. I decided that I would finally pull out my cookbook, "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld.

The first recipe I tried was the Chicken Nuggets. I chose Smart Chicken which has no hormones or antibiotics and pureed some yummy sweet potatoes to use too. Little Man loved it! It was the first time I've heard him say "more," for something I've actually wanted him to eat in awhile. The Hubby loved it too, the consensus was I need to make this one again.

The second recipe I made was Macaroni and Cheese, which I made with both pureed cauliflower and pureed northern beans in the sauce. Surprisingly, Little Man is not a fan of mac and cheese, the only kid I've ever heard of actually. Hubby and I enjoyed it as a way to sneak protein into an otherwise protein-free meal. Little Man ate a little, but maybe he just wasn't that hungry.

I will try more this week and see what passes and what doesn't...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Food Inc." makes me think...

Last weekend, Hubby and I watched the documentary "Food, Inc." during a precious Little Man naptime. We found it to be very eye-opening and it made us start to think, where does our food come from? Why do we expect our meat, milk and produce to be cheaper and cheaper? How do we think the farmers can produce it for us to buy high quantity so cheaply?

Once I was pregnant with Little Man I started buying organic milk. I found it important that the baby I was about to have was not receiving a high amount of hormones in the womb. This continued after he was born and I was breast-feeding. Of course, after all this thinking about doing this for my child, I now buy organic/hormone free milk and yogurt for all of us. It's funny how having children to care for starts making you think about how healthy you're eating and that if you wouldn't want them to eat it, why should you?

So, after watching "Food, Inc." we are now thinking about meat. Have you ever thought about how unnatural it is that cows get fed cornmeal in order to make them grow faster and larger? Their bodies were meant to eat grass! Picture this, in the film, they show that the farmers have to access the cattle's first stomach in order to remove the cornmeal that can't be digested any further. Disgusting!!! You can't even picture how disgusting until you see it done and the cow is mooing like, "Hey! Who is in my tummy???!!!" It shows that we are getting corn in more places than we realize, and what health benefit do we get from corn? Not enough to be having it be a part of every food item we put in our bodies.

Now I'm researching buying grass-fed beef online, as I haven't found it sold much in our area, even in the more upscale grocery stores. I'm finding farms that sell online, it is quite interesting. Some of the farmers so strongly believe in this cause that they ship for free! Overall the meat is more expensive, but I think this is where the stark reality hits. We are not meant to be consuming as much meat as we have all come to expect. The core of our diet should be vegetables, fruits and grains foremost. The only way to start making this meat more affordable is to show that is what America wants. Therefore, we will most likely be cutting our meat intake in half to make this new lifestyle more affordable. We've already started buying "Smart Chicken" without the antibiotics and hormones, it actually tastes better!

Now back to my search for where I'm going to get ground beef for my next batch of chili...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck

Although it was the week after Christmas and I thought of "The Christmas Sweater" as a Christmas story, I decided to pick it up and see what it was all about. I absolutely fell in love with this story! I am now a fan of Glenn Beck too, seeing as this story he tells is based on his life.

If you've ever thought back on the way you took things for granted as a child, as you can only see clearly once you are an adult, you will be able to relate. Eddie, the main character of the story, deals with a lot of trauma as a young boy, which culminates in his feeling as if no one can relate to him and what he is going through. It takes quite a wake-up call to make Eddie realize what he needs to appreciate.

Glenn Beck has changed his life story slightly, but it will bring you to tears as you feel for the character based on him. I would highly recommend this book, it makes you realize that a gift can take you back in time, especially a sentimental gift. This is a fast read, and it makes a great gift too, pick it up now!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So Many Babies to Come!

I've gotten so much news in the last month, and it's so exciting! It seems that it is baby time! Three of my girlfriends have told me recently that they are expecting come summer! One is having her second child, but two are having their first. It is such an exciting time and I can't wait for them all to arrive. Of course, my mind is reeling thinking about what creations I should make for these little ones. Blankets, sweaters, booties, hats, my needles will be quite busy.

I'll keep you up to date on my creations!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ahhh.... the Relief!

I am happy to say that I finished all gift projects this holiday season in time to get them off the needles and wrap them! I made several gifts, but don't have pictures of all yet, hoping to get some from those who received them.... hint, hint ;o)

I made our niece beautiful little girly legwarmers for the ballerina that she has become. They were knit out of beautiful Dale of Norway Baby Ull Yarn in light pink, medium purple and lime green stripes. She loved them! I also gifted them with light pink tights and a pink tutu skirt. Every little girl's dream!

For one of my sister-in-law's I knitted a cozy ribbed knit scarf. I used the so soft Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton in a pretty green called Pistachio, it turned out so plush and cushy. I loved the way the yarn knit up!

For Hubby I knit a great man's striped scarf out of Sublime's Cashmere Merino Silk Aran yarn. I love the feel of the yarn, it is so soft when it knits up too. It is a charcoal scarf with sage green striping, just the right amount of contrast for him. Catch the picture, that's it!

Friends of ours had a new baby on New Year's Day, and I finished a lovely Hearts and Stars blanket to keep the baby cozy through the rest of the winter. She loved it so much that she fell asleep as soon as she was in her new cocoon. I loved holding her and can't wait to see her again, (see that picture too) they grow up so fast. So, I wonder who's having a baby next, I should probably get started on the blanket now...

Now I've started getting ideas for what to make people for next Christmas. I think if I start now, I can get it done, oh maybe by December 23rd this year!