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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Easy Rapunzel Ponytail!

Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder ready to go!

Naomi had been going back and forth on what she wanted to be for Halloween...  From Jasmin to Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), to finally Rapunzel.  But where can you find an appropriately long wig on short notice (i.e. 10pm the night before it's needed)?  Frankly, if necessity is the mother of invention, then procrastination is surely the father.
Starting to attach:  Make a ponytail.

The night before Naomi's Halloween party, Dave and I were discussing what to do about her costume.  I was putting the finishing touches on a shawl that included instructions for making a twisted cord, and he started asking what colors of yarn I had on hand.  A strange question for him to ask, but after a few minutes, I started to see where he was going.  If we made enough of these long twisted cords in the right color, they could be attached to Naomi's hair for a non-tangling, extra-long, Rapunzel-like ponytail!

Place on top of ponytail.
Once the yellow yarn was hunted down, we started measuring, cutting, and twisting.  The way we went about making this really requires two people, but we're thinking the process could be sped up and simplified.  If/when we get around to trying our other approach, I'll make sure to re-post.  :)

So, without further ado, our take on a Rapunzel ponytail:

Supplies Needed
- Scissors
- 12-ft tape measure
- 440ft (147y / 134m) of yellow acrylic yarn
Getting ready to attach the elastic.
- Drill (optional)
- 2 hair elastics

Will Make
- 6 twisted cords that when put together make a 12-cord pony tail approx. 2.5ft long

- Measure 6 strands of yarn 144in (12ft) long.

- With you and your partner holding the strands together at each end and standing far apart, both of you twist right until the cord is tightly wound.

Optional Method:
If you have a drill, feed one end of the cord into the drill.  One person operates the drill and the other holds the end until the cord is tightly wound.

- Put the ends together while holding the middle and allow the cord to twist.
Next step, make it extra secure.

- Knot the end.

- Repeat this process 5 more times.

- Place all 6 cords together and tie in the middle with a matching piece of yarn approx. 1ft long.  You now have a Rapunzel ponytail with 12-cords.

If you are particular like me, arrange the cords so that each end of the ponytail will have three knotted ends and three non-knotted ends.  Or take it one step further and have knots on both ends of each cord.
Wrap extra yarn around...

To Attach
- Make a ponytail and secure tightly with an elastic.

- Place your Rapunzel ponytail on top of this ponytail, with 6 cords laying on each side and the knot of the yarn used to tie it together at the base of the ponytail (by the head).

- Take the 2 middle cords closest to the hair in the ponytail and hold them tightly together WITH the ponytail.  Secure them tightly together by using a non-slip elastic.
Tie in a bow.

- Take each side of the strand of yarn used to secure the middle of the Rapunzel ponytail, and wrap around the base of the ponytail in the hair several times and tie in an easily untied bow.  This just further secures the Rapunzel ponytail to the hair.

Voila!  You have just created your very own Rapunzel and she is sure to be a big hit at whatever Halloween function she attends.  And the best part about this "wig" is that it won't get "Tangled".  :)

To Unattach
Untie the bow in the yarn and unwrap.
Carefully cut the elastic that is securing the Rapunzel ponytail to the hair.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Pinch!

Message received!
I recently bought these really cheap overnight pullups on sale and upon opening the package discovered they had...  *GASP*... no pictures on them!  No beautiful princesses, no cuddly teddy-bears, no Nickelodeon characters to jazz up our bedtime ritual.  I was hoping this would go unnoticed, but alas, it didn't.  Naomi of course wondered why the pullups were "plain".  We decided it would be fun to draw our own pictures on the pullups, so each night we make a fun new design with washable markers on these frugal bedtime underwear.  All was going swimmingly well, and I thought myself quite clever until tonight when she put on her pullup and turned around.  Daddy and Naomi had left me a not-so-subtle message.  (Insert sheepish face here)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Hat, Two Ways, In a Flash!

So, here I am again, needing to be distracted from life and it's many W.O.E.'s (there is an inside joke there that will be explained in a future post, I'm sure).

Thing was kind enough to model.  :)
I crocheted two hats recently, both from the same cloche pattern found on the Lion Brand website (side note: you will need to create an account to view this pattern, but if you are into needle crafts, this site has a TON of really great, frequently reviewed, FREE patterns).

The first hat I tweaked to make it slouchy.  I increased each round until the hat was wider than it needed to be and added length until it was longer than it needed to be.  I finished the pattern as written with the exception of decreasing on the first few rows of the band to make it snug.  I also used a different flower pattern...  (Keep reading for those details.)

The second hat was for my niece's birthday, and she is pictured here, cute as a button, showing off her new hat.  This one was made pretty true to the pattern, but also with a different flower.  Here is the flower pattern that I used (the first of five available, called The Pink Sunflower) for both hats, which is on a blog called The Sunroom.  The pattern includes fabulous instructions for creating five funky flowers that all start with the same basic center.  I just love these unique flowers, AND they were super easy to make!

The first hat took a bit longer and was completed over the course of several days, but my niece's hat was started and finished in a single afternoon!  I found both of these patterns on an awesome website called Ravelry, which I've mentioned in previous posts.  You create a free account, and then you can track your projects (complete with pictures!), store details of your yarn stash, and search for thousands of knit and crochet patterns, many of which are FREE!

Well, that's it for now.  I'm keeping busy, staying distracted, and creating a multitude of hand-made items in the process.  Oh, and trying to eat less.  ;)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

A friend of mine has a very read-worthy blog called Laundry on the Line.  She's a school teacher by day, but her free time is devoted to creative exploits of all types.  Thus, she blogs about everything, or just about!  Her creative talents lend themselves to gardening, cooking, scrapbooking, and sewing, to name just a few.

She recently started a new series on her blog entitled How Does Your Garden Grow, which will be full of all sorts of handy gardening tips for those of us who are tired of putting in a ton of work with little know-how and yielding unpredictable results!  She's going to take us on her gardening journey for this year's growing season (May-October).  I'm especially excited because she's going to include posts on herb gardens, which is what I'm most interested in.  Store bought fresh herbs are pricey and are hard to keep fresh once you get them home.

Check out this multi-faceted blog and you'll be glad you did.  Happy gardening everyone!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

By Special Request...

A lovely woman, who shall remain nameless, was kind enough to request a photo of me in my new hat.  I sort of shun the whole "taking a picture of one's self and posting it on the internet", but as many fellow busy women will relate, sometimes finding someone to actually take a picture of you is darn near impossible!  Plus add into the equation the necessary time to put on makeup, do hair, and not be in pajamas, and it's that much more difficult.
But then comes a thoughtful, delightfully complementary request and my heart goes all mushy...  So here it is.  Me with enough makeup on to not look like I just rolled-out of bed, hair that is clean, if not exactly done, and "not" pajamas.  Oh, and the most important part, the hat!
This also seems like an opportune chance to thank those of you who have been reading...  This started as something for my family, and has broadened to include many new and existing friends.  Days are so busy and fly by, and I appreciate the time you take to share in these diversions.  :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Round-Trip Drive to Boston = 2 Hats + 3 Coffee Cozies

The house is quiet, and I'm trying not to eat.  There must be millions who relate to that simple compulsion.  And so I write...

I recently drove to and from Boston with some friends to see Hillsong United.  I have always loved road trips, but these days I don't "sit" very well.  Life has left me with too much to ponder, and pondering can take me to places I don't always want to go.  Reading in the car usually results in a sore tummy, but what else can be done while chit-chatting away on a long drive?  You guessed it...  CROCHET!  Yes, my new-found obsession is the perfect way to pass the time, keeping my hands and mind sufficiently occupied.

The "right" side of Dave's hat.
I chose two simple patterns so that I could still participate in lively conversation.  I had promised Dave (my dear hubby) a hat quite a while ago, and this was the perfect time to fulfill that promise.  He wasn't keen on the hat pattern I made for my brother Sean for his birthday, even without the pom-pom, so I chose a simple single-crochet pattern instead.  I decided to only crochet through the back-loops, which made the hat reversible with two really neat sides to choose from.  If Dave didn't like one side (which he didn't), he could wear the other!

The "wrong" side of Dave's hat, and also his favorite.
I wasn't sure how long it would take to make Dave's hat, but using Lion Brand Thick & Quick yarn and a size N hook, his hat was done by the time we drove out of Bangor!  I was so glad I had brought that second pattern and additional yarn because....  I got to make MYSELF a hat.  My first ever "for me" item!  I can't tell you how excited I was.  I have a few purchased knit items, and since I have started knitting myself, I am often asked if I made them.  Now I'll be able to proudly say YES!

The pattern I used is the same one I made for Sean, but this time I chose to spiral the ribbing, the effect of which is just too cool for words and also added a distinctly feminine touch.  I finished off my hat with a few rows of single-crochet, and voila!  My new hat.  :)

My Hat!
At this point, we were on the drive home, but were by no means home yet.  And I had a bit of yarn left over.  Hmmmmmm.....  I hadn't brought any other patterns, and there really wasn't that much yarn.  What could be done?  Boston Road Trip Coffee Cozies!  Of course we had a coffee cup in the car, so I just fiddled around a bit until I had made the first prototype.  Follow that up with two more, and I'd say that was one very productive road trip.  And we still had driving time left!

Road trips provide an excellent opportunity for self-discovery, but let's face it.  There's only so much we really want to know about ourselves.  So the moral of this road trip story is to bring your hook, and LOTS of yarn!  You'll be glad you did.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pantry Raid: Last Minute Pork Chops

I think I might have a hoarding gene somewhere in my mix of DNA because nothing comforts me like a well-stocked pantry.  The fridge is perpetually half empty, but ol' Mother Hubbard's cupboard is almost always well stocked.  This is a good thing because that is where most of our last minute supper's come from.  Or maybe they have to come from there for lack of groceries...  A recurring household theme, either way.

Last night's supper was certainly no exception.  The fridge was frightfully empty, and the pantry (*GASP*) was not much better.  Dave had picked up pork chops when he was out the day before, so they had to get eaten up.  The usual accompaniments (i.e. potatoes, rice, frozen veggies, etc....) were missing in action, so what's a girl to do?  My mom used to make THE BEST pork chops by cooking them all day with lots of onions and cream of mushroom soup in the crock pot.  On a very lucky day, we'd have them with egg noodles, but usually we ate them with veggies and rice.  Well, cream of mushroom soup, check.  Everything else, nope, nope, and nope.  Plus I didn't have all day.

After some deep digging through the cupboards (or cabinets, as my builder hubby would insist they are), I came up with something pretty decent.  Naomi ate it without complaining (hurray!) and Dave was suitably impressed.  Success!

Enjoy our latest pantry raid.  It wasn't the first, and certainly won't be the last.  Let's just hope that next time the pantry is more sufficiently stocked!

Last Minute Pork Chops

5 small pork chops
4 small onions
1 cup dried mushrooms, rehydrated
water from re-hydrating the mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup acini di pepe pasta (the pasta found in Italian Wedding Soup, Dave's fave)
3 green onions
3 cups baby spinach

Slice onions and saute on medium heat in a large pot with olive oil until slightly translucent.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper.  Move onions to one side of the pot, and add pork chops, browning lightly on both sides.  Drain the water from the mushrooms into the pot.  Chop the mushrooms and also add to the pot.  Add the cream of mushroom soup, plus a little more than one can of water.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and stir well.  Continue to cook with the lid on, stirring frequently.  When the pasta is nearly cooked, add the baby spinach and the chopped green onions.  Check and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve this one pot wonder immediately and enjoy!