Saturday, November 29, 2008

Paper Doilies, Miniature Lights and Christmas Wreath

(Photograph courtesy of Martha Stewart Living)
This wreath is lovely, unique, and easy to create from Martha Stewart:

A delicate-looking wreath that creates the magical effect of candles flickering in the snow is easy to make and surprisingly sturdy. Wreath frames are strung with twinkling lights that are nestled in frothy, doily like paper bouquet holders known as Biedermeiermanschetten...
In order to replicate the wreath according to the given directions, one must purchase German paper bouquet holders. That task was way too involved and expensive for me, so I purchased three sizes of paper doilies at the local craft store instead of the "Biedermeiermanschetten" which are available online.

In less than an hour, a table topper was created using white corded miniature twinkle lights and doilies (just punch through each doily with the tip of the light).

The complete directions for making the wreath can be found here at paper-doily-wreath.

This project was a fast way to create some extra lighting for sparkle on a table top with silver balls and Madonna and Child icons that I have been collecting for Christmas display. Daughter Heidy and I made this Thanksgiving morning while she was here to share the holiday.

And here is a picture (poorly taken) of the lighted Christmas vignette that Heidy helped create:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Volunteer Appreciation Photos

Over the past week, the organizations with which I volunteer sponsored some creative and enjoyable events.

On Saturday and Sunday, Western Colorado Hospice and Palliative Care hosted their annual Luncheon and Style Show to benefit the Children and Teen Programs. Table Hostess Karen Madsen is shown in one of the slide show photos. Thanks for your invitation, Karen! (All the clothes were lovely, and the models looked and danced sensationally!)

An appreciation afternoon tea for over 325 volunteers on November 18 at the Doubletree Hotel sponsored by St. Mary's Medical Center.

November 24 was a luncheon for social workers and patient care volunteers, again hosted by Western Colorado Hospice and Palliative Care. This was a time when staff and volunteer patient caregivers had a time to share ideas on the new patient care model which the hospice has recently implemented. About 50 employees and volunteers attended.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Blog Promotes Mom-preneur Shop-a-Thon ! (moms who are entrepreneurs)

As a regular reader and contributor to The Tip Junkie, I came across her 12 Days of Christmas Give Away and am sharing what she has to say.

It's not too late to list your blog/site/shop in the directory. It’s easy! Just register and fill out the form to add your link. Each listing is only $5.45 and will be promoted until Jan. 1.

Only women are allowed to list their stores/blogs/sites in this Mom-preneur Shop-a-thon. I reserve the right to delete any stores that are not family-friendly or who are not owned and operated by women. No refunds. Need Help? Contact the Tip Junkie

This holiday season, the challenge is to buy your gifts from women & fellow bloggers. To help bring you some amazing products and gift-giving inspiration, Tip Junkie is hosting a Mom-preneur Shop-a-thon. I am so excited about our “created by women” holiday season. Your friends and family are going to be blown away by your thoughtful gifts this year! Please support these women with your orders, visits, and by blogging about your favorite products. With so many struggling with the economy, we have the combined power and influence to make a difference in these women's lives and give their families a wonderful holiday. All while enjoying their fabulous products in our own homes and those of our loved ones. {{hugs to all who participate}} Please note: most of these products are hand made and will require extra time for shipping.

So don’t delay and start shopping!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prayer Shawl Pattern for Wheelchair Users and Those in Bed

In a previous post, prayer shawls were discussed. I was searching for a way to make a shawl from quilting or fleece fabric because it would be much quicker to construct by sewing, using purchased fabric.

While browsing the internet, I came across more than 200 sites about prayer shawls, but not one reference could be found on how to make a shawl using fleece or flannel material. So if you are looking for something not requiring the time and expertise commitment of using yarn in a knit or crochet technique, this pattern idea might work for you. It is especially useful for wheelchair users or for those who stay in bed most of the time.

Here is some background on prayer shawls before I get on to the quick pattern I devised below:
The Prayer Shawl Ministry was started by Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo in 1998. Susan Izard and Susan Jorgensen wrote Knitting Into The Mystery which is an excellent introduction into the rituals of prayer shawl knitting. A very good introduction into the process and a good reference for starting prayer shawl ministries. But, there was really only one pattern so it was a bit limited in terms of yarns that would look good with that pattern.
This reference to the Prayer Shawl Ministry was found at Kelly Petkun's site. Kelly has a weekly podcast that her dog Xena helps produce complete with voice-overs.... I mean bark-overs in the background. You can listen to the Knit Picks podcast here at KnitPicksPodcast.

Kelly talks about knitting, products, and interviews guests discussing recent knitting designs and life, in general. Kelly and her company are virtual friends by way of download! And every bit of yarn that I have purchased from the Knit Picks website has been of good quality and arrived quickly.
The above picture is a shawl used as a prototype for the pattern I cut out this morning. The original outside dimensions are 63" (length) by 50" (width).
To make this shawl for someone who stays in bed, the fabric was cut down in the back so that the shawl will drape across the shoulders and warm the front of the body. Cutting out extra fabric from the back makes it easier to maneuver in a wheelchair, and also decreases bulky fabric while using in bed.
Here are some easy directions and a picture of the work in progress:
Fabric requirement: 2.25 yd EACH of two contrasting fabrics (fleece, flannel, old quilts, etc); or a total of 4.5 yd of 45" wide fabric from the same fabric bolt
Notions: thread

1) Cut two pieces of fabric 39" long (includes 1/2 inch seam allowance). The total width will be 50", most of which will be used for the front of the shawl. You will need to piece these two cuts of fabric together, making a seam down the center back, ensuring the width of the cut pieces, when sewn together, is about 50" wide. Press pieced seams flat.
2) Cut a "U shaped" window from the fabric from the bottom up, leaving about 8" at the top for neck and shoulder placement (the "U shaped" cut out should be about 8 " wide and 29" deep and will be placed behind the neck).
Repeat the above steps for the second fabric side.
3) With right sides facing each other, sew the two fabric pieces together, leaving about a six inches opening for turning the shawl right sides out. Press seams flat.
4) Hand sew the opening together using a slip stitch.

Here is a picture of a finished flannel shawl using the same fabric on the back as on the front. It looks warm, will be easy to use in bed, is washable, and will be more comfortable because some of the bulky fabric has been eliminated in the back. This is for daughter Julie while in the hospital, at the nursing home, or in her wheelchair.
Good luck in making some of these for people you know who might need a little comfort, with a prayer sewn into them.
Leave me a comment if you have questions.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Unique, Edible Gifts in a Jar

Our next-door neighbors are great. They never complain, are quiet, friendly yet unobtrusive, pleasant to chat with, and are all around super people sharing fences.

At this time of year, it is always a challenge to figure out something to give friends and neighbors that will be both somewhat unique and useful as a Christmas token of friendship. So a handmade gift is usually the best I can come up with for sharing. Making it edible and disposable are also desirable attributes of a gift for "those who have everything".

This season, I am going to try several jars of layered food items (bean soups, pancake mixes, scone mixes, cake mixes, hot chocolate mixes, etc.) for gifting to family and neighbors. Here is a fantastic website to check out for just such an idea: Budget 101; it has lots of great ideas and thousands of recipes for hand made give-away dishes. And this site also gives tips on how to make the entire package look attractive and seasonally packaged.

Here are some of my gifting recipes gleaned from Budget 101:

from Christmas Coffee Mix in a Jar:

1/2 cup powdered non dairy creamer
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2 Tbsp vanilla powder
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2/3 cup instant coffee crystals

Combine all ingredients and seal in ziploc or vacuum seal bag (or jar).

GIFT TAG DIRECTIONS: Add 3 T of mix to mug of hot water, stir & enjoy. May serve with chocolate dipped spoons.

and from Italian Herb and Rosotto Rice Recipe, this package looks excellent, easy and should prove colorful in the jar:

3-1/2 C. arborio rice
3/4 C. snipped dried tomatoes
8 chicken bouillon cubes
3 T.instant minced onion
2 t. dried oregano
1 t. instant minced garlic
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dried basil leaves, crushed
1/2 t. pepper

Makes 4 half pint jars.

Equally divide the ingredients and layer into 4 jars (evenly). Gift Tag : Boil 3 cups of water, add 1 jar of mix, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes on low. Add 1/2 c. Romano or Parmesan cheese, stir well and enjoy.

Here is a picture of a peanut butter cup cookie recipe in a jar filled with the dry ingredients (enough for two dozen cookies):

Recipe from Peanut Butter Cup Cookies:

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Mix in a Jar

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
8 large Reese's peanut butter cups candies cut in quarters & Placed on top.

Combine all ingredients in Jar (in Layers) or vacuum seal bag.

Recipe to attach to jar:

1 Jar of Mix (take out candies; Set aside)
3/4 cup softened butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all, except candy, in good size bowl; mix well. Once mixed, add Reese's cups and mix them in gently, or press them into each spoonful on the cookie sheets. Drop by big spoonfuls on greased baking sheets; Bake in 350 F oven for 12-14minutes.

These jars are fun to make, fun to give, and hopefully, will be easy to assemble for the giftees, and delicious when served.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How to Get Free Pictures

Guests for Dinner

Just a Bunch of Clips
I just found out about a great website where you can obtain about any type of photograph you might want. This site is especially useful for bloggers looking for images to perk up their writing (remember the old saw of "a picture is worth a thousand words"). The photos above were grabbed from this free site.

Here is the website: Acobox. Just register with your name (and website, if applicable), and thousands of pictures are yours, royalty free and you do not have to worry about copyright infringements. Cool!

Thanks to busybeevillage for the heads up on this free service!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paperback Swap Exchange Club - Pay Postage Only

There are more than 2.5 million books available at the PaperBack Swap internet club. All you must do is list ten books which you are willing to send to someone else, and your account is established. This morning I listed ten paperbacks in a New York minute and requested two back. The sytem works on a credit basis (2 points per book), and the only cost that is incurred is when you agree to send one of your listed paperbacks to another member of the club.

And to think of those tons of paperbacks that are who-knows-where before I was aware of this great deal!
Here is what they post:
Do you have any used paperback books lying around? I did, and I finally found a great way to share them with other people.

It seems that a few guys were sitting around one night talking about all the paperback books that they purchased over the years when they traveled on business. Each of them had a stack of books that they had read. So they decided to set up a web site that allows all of us to swap paperback books with each other. Now it's grown to include ALL books--hardcovers and audio too!

Let me tell you how it works because it is so easy. I listed a bunch of books on the site (you have to list at least 10 books to get in the club) and I got 2 free book credits to get me started. So you can order 2 books right away - free of charge and have them mailed directly to you. No strings attached. No gimmicks. No spam mail. Nothing! You just have to love reading.

Then when another member selects one of my books that I have listed, I mail it to them. Yes, I pay for the postage. But then I get a book credit and I can select a book that I want. So another Club Member returns the favor and mails me one of their books free of charge. For every book I mail out, I get another book in return - a true shared system!

And when someone requests one of your books, all you have to do is print a two page document on regular paper from your printer, and use them to wrap the book. The wrapper includes the mailing address and the amount of postage. Then drop the package in the outbound mail. Hey, most of the time you don't even need to go to the post office!

Right now the annual club membership is FREE! Eventually the founders will ask everyone to help contribute to pay for the upkeep of the web site, but for now the annual club membership is free. The annual dues will probably be between $10 and $20 based on the number of people in the club. But again, right now you don't even have to pay any dues for one year if you become a Charter Member.

You really need to check this out! And if you do sign up, please list my email in the referral section because then I get another free book. This is a great club

Monday, November 10, 2008

November is National Hospice Month; Veterans' Day Appreciation

All of us must face grief in our lives. Coping with grief is a topic which I have been researching lately because it has hit so close to home in these past months.

Grief comes in many forms, not only in the loss of a loved one through death, but also in the form of other significant losses. Loss of a job, a relationship, an income, our youth, good health, and even the realization of losing unreached expectations can all be forms of deep loss.

There are online support groups for loss who have experienced loss, such as Grief Net, “where grace happens” and Grief Recovery, dedicated to grief loss and recovery. There are community based programs dealing with grief, such as Western Colorado Hospice and Palliative Care Program, with which I am proudly associated.

Last month I completed 30 hours of volunteer training for this group, and look forward to working in the patient care setting for this organization either at the inpatient care center, in private homes, or in nursing homes. Our local hospice has over 300 volunteers, which is a real tribute to our giving community.

From Gifts of Grief, a 52 minutes film can be ordered:
The Gifts of Grief asks a timely important question - How do we transform the tragedy of our losses into a life altering experience that deepens and enriches our lives?...We explore the possibility that grief while very painful, it is one of the closely guarded keys to true transformation and joy.
In a previous post Certified Therapy Dog, and also here at Therapy Dog in Nursing Facility, Libby Sweetpea has been highlighted as a helper dog. She will continue to help me at our local hospice.

An excellent video which I watched over the weekend, entitled "Wounded Warriors", gave helpful information about dealing with war veterans as they face their own mortality and deaths. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was high on the list for acute awareness in dealing with those who have been engaged in our armed forces, and especially those who have faced battle.

Grief issues addressed to Vietnam veterans are covered succinctly in an article at this Australian supported site A Digger and a Bloke. The article is much too long to quote in this post, but it is worth reading for the enlightenment factor of what veterans often face when dealing with PTSD.

Thank you, veterans, for your service. Thank you, all hospices world-wide, in sensitively dealing with end of life issues.

Pulled Pork Barbeque with Liquid Smoke (the whole bottle)

Wow! Did we have a taste treat yesterday courtesy of a recipe I heard about in a podcast last week from The Splendid Table. It was Bar-B-Que Pork made with an entire bottle of Liquid Smoke.

In all my cooking life, I have only used liquid smoke by the dropful because of the power packed into it. So when I heard about using the entire 4 oz. bottle, I was dubious of the results. But the pork was fantastic and tasted like real Southern Barbeque.

It took a total of about ten minutes to put together, and cooked about eight hours in the crock pot. (And YES, use every bit of the contents of the rub recipe on the pork, although it seems like a large amount of spices. The original recipe calls for using 1/4 cup of the basic rub, but I used the entire 2/3 cup and was pleased with the results.)

Here is the recipe found at this website: Recipes

Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork
Reprinted from Cheater BBQ: Barbecue
Anytime, Anywhere, In Any Weather by Mindy Merrell and R. B. Quinn (Broadway
Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 2008) Copyright 2008 by Mindy Merrell
and R. B. Quinn.

Okay, here we go. Either we have you hooked at "Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork" or this book is headed straight for the library's used book sale. We know that. You know that. So, let's drop the chitchat and make some cheater barbecue.

In short, you drop a pork butt into the slow cooker, add dry rub and bottled smoke, close the cover, go away for a while, pull or chop the meat and pile it on a bun, add sauce, get out the pickles, open a beer. BOOM! That's barbecue, baby. Can you feel it? That's Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork.

Makes 12 to 14 servings

One 5- to 6-pound boneless Boston butt pork roast or same weight of boneless country-style pork ribs
1/4 cup Cheater Basic Dry Rub (recipe follows)
1/2 cup bottled smoke
Barbecue sauce of your choice

1. Cut the pork butt into medium (2- to 3-inch) chunks (the ribs don't need to be cut up).

2. Put the pieces in a large slow cooker (at least 5 quarts). Sprinkle the meat with the rub, turning the pieces to coat evenly. Add the bottled smoke.

3. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 10 to 12 hours, until the meat is pull-apart tender and reaches an internal temperature of 190 F.

4. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a rimmed platter or baking sheet. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat into strands. It should shred very easily. Serve the barbecue piled on buns with your favorite barbecue sauce.

5. To serve the barbecue later, cover and refrigerate the meat when it has cooled. Pour the meat juice into a separate container and refrigerate. Before reheating the juice, skim and discard the congealed fat layer on the top.

6. To reheat the barbecue, place it in a saucepan moistened with some of the reserved juice. Gently heat the meat on medium-low, stirring occasionally. Or, place it in a covered casserole with some of the reserved juice and heat in a 350 F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

7. While the meat warms, combine the barbecue sauce and some of the additional reserved meat juice in a saucepan. Heat through and serve with the barbecue.

Cheater Basic Dry Rub (Makes about 2/3 cup)

1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to blend.

I was so hungry after smelling that aroma of meat cooking in the kitchen all day, I forgot to get out the camera and take a photo of it. Instead, we delved into the pork and a couple of side dishes of cole slaw and garlic bread, and the camera was left aside for the mouth watering event.

Oh, and our choice of purchased bottled Barbeque Sauce on the side was "KC Masterpiece Sweet & Tangy".

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Autumn Photo

Our sweet sister Pam sent me three lovely metallic acorns yesterday in honor of fall. What a thoughtful thing for her to do. Thanks, Pam! I will use them in several ways over the next years and always think of you when I see them.

In the lower right hand side of the picture is yet another lace scarf that is almost off the needles. It will go on the Flickr and Ravelry websites today as a UFO (unfinished object), with another pair of socks begun for the December Pair a Month challenge, also on Ravelry, the international and internet knitting and crocheting community.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Vintage Patterns & Prayer Shawls Made From Quilts

One of my favorite weekly emails is from Debbie Colgrove, a sewing whiz with a company which someday might rival Martha Stewart, if given the right opportunities.

Here is what Colgrove said today:
I have a gazillion patterns.... so many that it's usually easier to glance through pattern books and buy a new one than it is to try and find the pattern I want...
And who hasn't wanted to go back in time and retrieve that classic pattern used years ago?

There was one particular dress pattern my SIL Charlotte and I used until the pattern was worn thin: that of a long jumper dress.

So I went on a search through vintage patterns on the internet. There are many listed websites for vintage patterns, but the site where I purchased this pattern from was Old Patterns. This is the pattern I purchased:

My favorite is the jumper displayed in the middle of the photograph (it uses 4.5 yd. of 45" fabric).

Reading emails and others' blogs is dangerous to my personal economy, but I did pick up another thread of conversation from the Colgrove email that was a link to a book titled Prayer Shawl Quilts.

This book piqued my interest, so I went to my blog sidebar (see the little picture of the book with AMAZON printed on top of the box) and ordered the book. It should be here by next week.
Making prayer shawls through the knitting and crocheting method is a lovely sentiment; the time requirement is intensive. My daughter Julie (in a nursing home and due for another surgery on Nov. 18) is always cold, so using quilts, blankets, fleece and other warm materials to make washable shawls for her will be my answer to keeping her cozy while in bed.

And I can sew prayers for her comfort into the shawls, as well. Look for a report on the book Prayer Shawl Quilts from me soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Color Red - Mood Affectation, Use of Red in Art

Red is a color I am attracted to. It is in my home, wardrobe, knitting projects, artwork and even favorite foods. I love the mixing of red with other colors, especially blues and oranges, to make a differing palette of colors from which to choose. Using red in the mixing of oil paints gives visual impact in painting.

One of the examples of red used in my artwork is linked previously at this site.
From Information on Color:

The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.

The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.

It is interesting that wearing the color red makes one appear heavier. This fact must not have significant impact on the majority of males, according to The Future Pundit.

A groundbreaking study by two University of Rochester psychologists to be published online Oct. 28 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology adds color—literally and figuratively—to the age-old question of what attracts men to women. Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrate that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.

The research provides the first empirical support for society's enduring love affair with red. From the red ochre used in ancient rituals to today's red-light districts and red hearts on Valentine's Day, the rosy hue has been tied to carnal passions and romantic love across cultures and millennia. But this study, said Elliot, is the only work to scientifically document the effects of color on behavior in the context of relationships.

Another view on the color red from Web MD is worth the read.

What does this say about the US going blue in yesterday's election? Hmm, it is food for thought in many blogs today. Take a look at my husband's blog, "Living the Grand Life", for his Simpson cartoon comment on the country going blue overnight.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Easy Lace Scarf; Independent Wool Dyers

The easy lace scarf pictured here was knitted using only four stitches: the knit stitch, the purl stitch, the yarn over stitch, and by knitting two stitches together.

Here is the pattern for the lacy scarf:

Cast on 38 stitches (size 6 or 7 needles)
Row 1 Knit
Row 2 Purl
Row 3 K1, [K2 tog] 3 times, [YO, K1] 6 times, [K2 tog] 6 times, [YO, K1] 6 times, [K2 tog] 3 times, K1
Row 4 Knit

In a previous post on this blog, this scarf was also mentioned, and now it is completed.

If you need to refresh your knowledge on the "yarn over" technique, this video will show you how.

The yarn used for this project was 50% wool and 50% silk, hand dyed by the Hand Maiden, a Vancouver dyer. It is functionally warm, and soft with the silk woven into the wool fibers. An excellent link can be found at this site; all kinds of useful information is given there about the dying of fibers.

At the Etsy shop, over 8,000 items of hand dyed wool can be found at this website: Independent Wool Dyers.

I have purchased several items from Etsy independent dyers and sellers and have been very pleased with their products. Try them out, and buy handmade!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Night Dress Up

Halloween Night: Waiting for Visitors at the Door

We only had a few trick-or-treaters last nite. It could not have been due to the shrinking dollar....

The weather was nice in Colorado, so maybe it was because of the quality of the candy we handed out that the goblins did not come out in droves. Whatever the reason, there was a lot of candy left in the treat bowl after our porch light was turned off!

And here is a picture of my sis-in-law's dogs all dressed up in their winter capes. They look like they are awaiting Halloween visitors, too.