Monday, January 30, 2012

It's my birthday!

Today is a big milestone for me. It's my 30th birthday. I have left my 20's behind and I'm looking forward to what my 30's will bring.

I had an amazing weekend. Mike pulled off an awesome surprise party for me. I had no clue. I thought we were going out to dinner at a local pizza place called Luigi's with a few of our friends. About an hour before dinner I got text messages from two of my friends canceling because they fell down. The one girls is pregnant and said her o.b. told her to stay off of her feet. The other girl told me she fell and broke her arm. I was so upset that all my friends were abandoning me. Then Mike called the restaurant where we were supposed to be eating and said our reservation got messed up.

I was thinking this was the worst birthday ever but I was trying to stay positive. We were going out with Mike's cousin and his girlfriend and they suggested another local place called The Lockview that is a fun bar with great grilled cheese. At this point I didn't care where we went, I just wanted to eat somewhere.

We show up at the restaurant and Mike bypasses the host and start pulling towards the back of the restaurant. I see this big table of people and spot my sister first. She lives in Virginia so I started putting it together. I was so surprised and little embarrassed that I had no idea. Mike had been planning this party for weeks. All our friends were there and my sister flew in and had to get special permission from her work to take the day off.

I was really touched that Mike did all that work to give me a great birthday. He said there were a couple of times he thought I was going to find out but he kept it secret. We had such a great night with our friends! It really was a great birthday and I have the best husband to do so much for me to make turning 30 so special.

I'm sorry to say I didn't have my camera because I was expecting a quiet night so I don't have any pics.





Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Easy Lasagna Recipe

 

Mike made his first ever lasagna for Christmas. It was a veggie lasagna with alfredo sauce and it was delicious. It put him on a lasagna kick so for his mom's birthday he made a meat lasagna to have for lunch with the family. It's an easy dish to whip up and it serves a big group of people. It was a big hit with the family and everyone wanted to know what was in it.

Easy Lasagna Recipe

Mike wanted to make an easier lasagna this time so he tried the no boil noodles this time. We just bought the store brand since it was the least expensive. I thought they tasted good but they were softer than a normal noodle that's been boiled. The family all liked it but Mike felt like the boiled noodles tasted better. It did make the lasagna building process much quicker.

Easy Lasagna Recipe



Ingredients:
1 box of lasagna noodles- your choice of boil or no boil
16 oz  ricotta cheese
1 pound ground beef
1 roll of sausage (like Bob Evans) in your flavor choice- we used the hot kind
1 package frozen spinach
2 jars marinara sauce (you may not use all of it but one jar isn't enough)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning herbs or half oregano and half thyme

If you want to boil the noodles then do this first.

Brown the sausage and ground beef in a skillet and drain excess fat. Heat the frozen spinach per the package directions.

Mix the beef, sausage, ricotta cheese and spinach in a large bowl.

Easy Lasagna Recipe

Using a 9 x 13 casserole pan start by spraying the pan with cooking spray to prevent the lasagna from sticking. Place a layer of sauce on the bottom then layer the noodles across the width of the pan. We used four noodles. Then layer the ricotta mixture. Repeat with sauce, noodles and ricotta.

Easy Lasagna Recipe

The final layer should be noodles and sauce. Sprinkle the dried herbs on top.

Easy Lasagna Recipe


Bake in the oven, covered, at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly. Add a layer of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm Learning to Knit!

I am really excited about my newest crafty endeavor. My coworker, Barb, who taught me how to crochet is teaching me how to knit. We had two lunch session together last week and I learned the knit stitch. Barb was really excited at how quickly I picked up using two needles. I was surprised at how easy it was. I think having lots of crochet experience helped even though it's a different concept using two needles.

Right now I practicing by making a scarf with huge needles and chunky yarn. I'm actually in love with the yarn, it's called Wool-Ease Thick and Quick. It's a super bulky yarn and it makes really awesome chunky stitches. I think I'm going to stitch it together at the end to make it an infinity scarf. There is a way to crochet in the round with circular needles but that will be a future lesson.


Monday, January 16, 2012

How to Make Cake Balls

 

How to Make Cake Balls

Instead of doing Christmas cookies this year, Mike and I decided to make cake balls. I had some at a work Christmas lunch and fell in love. I looked them up online and showed them to Mike and he was easily won over. We had some ideas in our head for the flavors we wanted to make but couldn't find them online so we came up with our own. We decided on three different flavors- coconut almond, chocolate mint and red velvet raspberry.

They were all delicious but the coconut almond was my favorite. We brought some to work and shared them at Christmas and they were a big hit! They were easy to make but it was time consuming, especially since we made three batches. We spread it our over three days. Day 1- we cooked the cakes. Day 2- we mixed in the frosting, rolled the balls and chilled them. Day 3- we dipped the balls in chocolate. It would probably be easier to do it all in one day if there was only one batch but it worked out really well to spread it out.

Here's the basic ingredients to make your own:

For the coconut almond flavor:
white cake mix
frosting (store bought or homemade)
1/2 tsp Coconut extract
1/2 tsp Almond extract
1/2 cup toasted coconut
2 bags white chocolate candy melts

For the chocolate mint flavor:
chocolate cake mix
frosting (store bought or homemade)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
crushed peppermint candies or candy canes
2 bags chocolate mint candy melts

For the red velvet raspberry flavor:
red velvet cake mix
frosting (store bought or homemade)
1/2 tsp raspberry extract
red sprinkles
2 bags chocolate candy melts


You can find the candy melts are your local craft store. I got mine at Joanns. There are tons of different flavors and colors to choose from.

Directions:

Bake the cake according to the directions on the box. Allow the cake to cool completely before continuing.

How to Make Cake Balls

Once the cake has cooled completely remove it from the pan in pieces and crumble it with your hands.

How to Make Cake Balls



How to Make Cake Balls


Make your frosting  and add the corresponding extract. Or if you are using store bought, mix the extract in to 2/3 of the frosting. Reserve the rest of the frosting for another use.

Thoroughly mix the frosting into the crumbled cake mix.

How to Make Cake Balls

Pinch off a small amount of the cake/frosting mix or use a small cookie scoop. (Ours were about the size of a small meatball. I might try them a little smaller next time. It's your preference on how big to make them)

How to Make Cake Balls

Roll the cake/frosting mix into a ball. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. If you want to make cake pops at this point you can insert a lollipop stick. We wanted them to be easier to store so we didn't use one.

How to Make Cake Balls

After all the mix is rolled place into the fridge to chill for about 3 hours or into the freezer for 15 minutes (don't allow them to freeze)

Melt the candy melts into a deep microwavable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir really well. Repeat until all the chocolate is melted. Be very careful melting because the chocolate can burn very easily (we learned this the hard way.) It's important to stir really well because it will help to melt the chocolate. If you have a double boiler you can use this as an alternative to the microwave.

Using a spoon, drop the cake ball into the chocolate and drizzle chocolate over the top with a spoon. Tap to remove excess chocolate and carefully place on the wax paper covered cookie sheet. This part is really tricky and took a long time to master. If are using a lollipop stick you will hold that to dip in the chocolate.

How to Make Cake Balls

Sprinkle with coconut, crushed candies or sprinkles depending on the kind you are making. You need to do this rather quickly because the chocolate hardens fast.

Repeat dipping until all the balls are covered in chocolate and let cool.

To store we placed the finished cake balls in the freezer so they would last longer. When we removed them for the freezer on top of our fridge they did not freeze all the way through. When we had them in our stand alone freezer they did freeze, leading us to believe it is set much colder. I read an online recommendations not to put them in the fridge because the chocolate would weep but I did not try that myself. I think they would also be ok leaving them at room temperature.

Here is the yummy finished product.

How to Make Cake Balls
 
Coconut Almond Cake Balls
Coconut Almond
 
chocolate mint cake balls
Chocolate Mint
 
Raspberry Red Velvet Cake Balls
Raspberry Red Velvet

There are some great resources on the web to instruct you on making the cake balls. I referred to this website.

I also referred to this book Cake Pops by Bakerrella. I bought it for my friend for Christmas but Mike and I used it as a reference as well. There are great instructions and examples of different ways to decorate you cake balls. This is where I found my frosting recipe.


I may be linking up to one of these fabulous parties.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adult Flower Crochet Hat


Adult Flower Crochet Hat Pattern

I made this hat for my mother in law for Christmas. I liked it so much I almost didn't want to give it away :) I will just have to make one for myself now that I'm done making Christmas presents...maybe in pink.

Materials:
Two balls of worsted weight yarn. I used Caron Simply Soft
K hook
Tapestry needle
Abbreviations:
Dc= double crochet
Ch= chain
Ss= slip stitch
Instructions:

Using two strands of yarn held together
Row 1- Ch 4 (does not count as first dc) 10 dc in 3rd ch from hook. Join with ss at top of first dc. (10 dc)
Row 2- Ch 3 2 dc in each st. Join with ss at top of first dc. (20 dc)
Row 3- Ch 3 (1 dc in first stitch, 2 dc in next). Join with ss at top of first dc. (30dc)
Row 4- Ch 3 (1 dc in first two stitches, 2 dc in next). Join with ss at top of first dc. (40 dc)
Row 5- Ch 3 (1 dc in first three stitches, 2 dc in next). Join with ss at top of first dc. (50 dc)
Row 6-11- Ch 3. 1 dc in each stitch. Join with ss at top of first dc. Finish off. Weave in ends. (50 dc)

You may want to stop at row 10 or add a row 12 depending on the size of the head. If you are able to try it on your subject it will help you to determine the length. If this isn't possible stick with 11 rows.
For the flower I used the pattern for the irish rose found via Ravelry. I really like this flower because it doesn't have any gaps in the center like a lot of patterns do.

Adult Flower Crochet Hat Pattern


Adult Flower Crochet Hat Pattern

Adult Flower Crochet Hat Pattern

You may use any of the patterns I create for personal use. If you would like to make an item to sell with my patterns you must link back to the pattern on my blog. You can not sell my patterns as your own.


I may be linking up to one of these fabulous parties.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mouse or Bear Crochet Hat Pattern


.Mouse or Bear Crochet Hat Pattern

My friend texted me a picture of a hat she saw someone wearing and asked me to make her one in pink and brown. I whipped up this pattern to recreate her pic and gave it to her for Christmas.

She wanted it to have a face with whiskers but by moving the placement of the ears, the hat has a totally different look. You could make any variation on the face and ears to create your own style of hat. This hat is made with two strands of yarn held together and it works up really quickly. It’s the same hat pattern I used for my Adult Flower Crochet Hat.

Supplies:
Two balls of worsted weight yarn for the hat. Color A. I used Caron Simply Soft
One ball of worsted weight yarn for the inside of the ears and face. Color B.
K hook
Tapestry needle

Gauge- 1st 3 rows = 4 inch diameter of the circle
Fits 21-23 inch head

Abbreviations:
Dc= double crochet
Ch= chain
Ss= slip stitch

Instructions:
For the hat
Using color A Using two strands of yarn held together
Row 1- Ch 4. (does not count as first dc) 10 dc in 3rd ch from hook. Join with ss at top of first dc. (10 dc)
Row 2- Ch 3. 2 dc in each st. Join with ss at top of first dc. (20 dc)
Row 3- Ch 3. (1 dc in first stitch, 2 dc in next). Join with ss at top of first dc. (30dc)
Row 4- Ch 3. (1 dc in first two stitches, 2 dc in next). Join with ss at top of first dc. (40 dc)
Row 5- Ch 3. (1 dc in first three stitches, 2 dc in next). Join with ss at top of first dc. (50 dc)
Row 6-11- Ch 3. 1 dc in each stitch. Join with ss at top of first dc. Finish off. Weave in ends. (50 dc)
You may want to stop at row 10 or add a row 12 depending on the size of the head. If you are able to try it on your subject it will help you to determine the length. If this isn't possible stick with 11 rows.

For the ears- make 2
Using color B

Row 1- Ch 3. 10 hdc in 3rd ch from hook. Join with ss at top of first hdc (10hdc)
Row 2- Ch 2. 2 hdc in each stitch leaving the last 3 unworked. Finish off (7 hdc)
Using color A
Row 3- Join in top of Ch 2. (1 hdc in next, 2 in next) 1 hdc in last (10 hdc)
Finish off and leave an extra long tail for sewing

For eyes- make 2
Using color B

Row 1- Ch 3. 4 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Join with ss.
Row 2- Ch 1. 2 sc in each sc. Join with ss.
Fasten off and leave a long tail for sewing

For nose
Using color B
Row 1- Ch 3. 4 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Join with ss.
Row 2- Ch 1, 2 sc in each stitch around. Join with ss.
Row 3- Ch 1. (1 sc in first stitch, 2 sc in next). Join with ss.
Fasten off and leave a long tail for sewing

Attach the ears to the side of the hat using the picture as reference.
Attach the eyes and nose to the front of the hat using the picture as reference.
Add the whiskers using three long stitch. To make them more sturdy, catch a few dc stitches underneath before coming back up on the top of the hat.



Mouse or Bear Crochet Hat Pattern



Mouse or Bear Crochet Hat Pattern


Mouse or Bear Crochet Hat Pattern

Mouse or Bear Crochet Hat Pattern

You may use any of the patterns I create for personal use. If you would like to make an item to sell with my patterns you must link back to the pattern on my blog. You can not sell my patterns as your own.

I may be linking up to one of these fabulous parties.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Crochet Ear Warmer/Headband


Crochet Ear Warmer/Headband

I wanted to make some quick gifts for Christmas so I decided to make some ear warmer/headbands. I ended up making four in different colors for my two sisters and two of my cousins. This was the perfect last minute gift since it only took me around an hour and a half to make one.  Of course I turned to Ravelry to find patterns. I used this one from Da Perfect Mix for the headband and this one from Lolly Chops for the flower.

I did modify the headband because I didn't like how wide it was. I stopped increasing on row 10 which made my headband only 13 double crochet wide. I still used the same number of rows. I also used an H hook because I liked the look of the smaller stitch. My head circumference is 21 inches and that was the perfect width but I tried it on one of my coworkers with a 23 inch head and the originally pattern width worked better.
This is really the perfect ear warmer to whip up. I have used this pattern tons more times. It’s also really easy to adjust the length by removing a couple of rows in the center to make the headband tighter for a smaller head.
Crochet Ear Warmer/Headband
Crochet Ear Warmer/Headband
Crochet Ear Warmer/Headband

Crochet Ear Warmer/Headband

Monday, January 2, 2012

Angry Birds Crochet Hat

 

Angry Birds Crochet Hat

 

My friend asked me if I could crochet her an angry birds hat for Christmas. I found a couple of patterns on Ravelry that I liked and wanted to try out. I started out using this one but I ended up making up my own hat pattern with double crochet because I didn't want to add earflaps so I just used it for the face.

There was a mistake on the feathers on top so I found another pattern to refer to. I also modified the beak pattern from the first pattern to make it smaller. I would have like the beak to have more of a point than it did but I still think it worked out well.

It made a great gift for my friend who loved how it turned out.

Angry Birds Crochet Hat

Angry Birds Crochet Hat

DSCF9406-001

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