Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Sprained Back and a Crocheted Hat

Another full day off from work, a trip to the doctor and pharmacy, all to find out I do have a sprained back. It's a lovely sensation: I'm wearing a back brace/Ace bandage thingy and I'm only comfortable when laying on my side. I want my Mommy.

So as I'm laying here, watching TV, I'm able to get caught up on the stuff on our DVR and get some crochet stuff finished. I need another hat like a hole in the head. It doesn't get that cold here but I loved the pattern.

Last Christmas, one of my co-workers gave me a gift card to Barnes & Noble. There, I picked up this fun little kit: the Cozy Crochet Kit by Melissa Leapman: "Melissa Leapman is a widely published sweater designer whose patterns have appeared in Vogue Knitting, Knitter’s, McCall’s, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Knit It!, and Interweave Knits magazines. Leapman has worked as a freelance designer for many leading ready-to-wear manufacturers, noted design houses, and major yarn companies. In addition, her knitting, crochet, and design workshops are extremely popular with crafters at all skill levels. She lives in New York City."

This is a great little kit! It comes with a length of yarn (cheap stuff to practice with), some stitch markers (never had them and now I can't live without them), a set of plastic crochet hooks (nice, but I broke one. Made me realize I prefer metal hooks.), a little booklet on stitches (nice and handy to refer back to), and 25 pattern cards.

I have actually made a couple different projects already, and most of them are pretty simple. While this is a good kit to start with if you are a beginner crocheter, it's also a nice kit to have if you haven't picked up a crochet hook for awhile and need a refresher. I've even recommended this kit to at least one other person since I got it.

There are a few more advanced patterns in there, like a shell stitched skirt (made that over the summer). I can't understand how this didn't get better reviews on Amazon, because it is a really great little kit. Because of Melissa Leapman's crochet and knit "pedigree," this is why the ratings on Amazon surprises me. But then again, Amazon is not the end all, be all of book purchasing possibilities. Remember, I bought my kit at Barnes & Noble.

The most recent project, like I mentioned above, was "Boyfriend's Hat." Since I paid for the kit, I'm not going to post the pattern here. Melissa listed it as skill level 2 and made it with wool yarn. The reason I chose this pattern to work on was because it's a ribbed hat, made with a woven drawstring seam for the top. I hadn't made one of those hats before. Instead of my typical hat, which is worked from the top down, this one is made from the side and then folded in half.

This was made with 1 1/2 small skeins of Lion Brand Cupcake in Blueberry (#106) and 1/2 skein of the Cupcake in a light blue (number unknown). I edged it with Splash, color 7178 (100% polyester) bought locally in Virginia Beach. The Cupcake came from a friend when we were trading some of our stashes.

If making it again, I think I'll either use a G sized hook instead of an H, or make it 1-2 rows shorter. It's not as snug of a fit as I would personally like.

I personally recommend picking up the Cozy Crochet Kit. I don't think you'd be disappointed. Since I liked these patterns, it makes me wonder what I'd think of some of Melissa Leapman's other patterns. I bet they're winners!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who Needs a New Cookbook?

I always need another cookbook, just like I need a hole in the head. But I have a special place in my heart for this cookbook: Food For Thoughts, 2nd Edition. It's "Recipes for Brittanys and Their People" by American Brittany Rescue.

We worked on this cookbook throughout 2009 and it ROCKS! I want to publically announce that ABR has some killer cooks in our midst! Over the weekend, we had a football game get-together (Saints and somebody, I forget who, but what does that matter? The Saints won.) and I needed to make some goodies to take along with us. The couple who's house we were at were the bride and groom that received the Gran Marnier lamp, and the groom is a killer cook too. So I needed to do something good.

I made the beer dip and the goat cheese dip from this cookbook. I'd share those recipes here with you, but that would defeat the purpose of this cookbook, which is to raise money for needy Brittanys across the United States.

So instead, I implore you, to please, consider ordering one of these cookbooks. They are only $15, which includes shipping (I think one of our volunteers in California is sending these out. More than 95 ABR volunteers and supporters contributed 350 recipes. We hope you enjoy the bits of Brittany history and find lots of recipes you’d like to sample. ABR is honored to be able to include recipes from Tony and Karril Kornheiser, human parents to their senior Brittany, Maggie. Be sure to look for them in Appetizers, Relishes and Pickles and in Soups, Salads and Sauces. Tony Kornheiser is a sportswriter, former columnist for The Washington Post and former analyst of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. And don’t miss the assortment of dog treat recipes in the Beverages, Microwave and Miscellaneous section. Some of the recipes are treasured family keepsakes and some are quick and easy fixes for supper at the end of a long day. We hope you and your dogs will enjoy the variety of outstanding recipes we’ve collected for you. The cover design is by Gloria Yarina, of FortuneDals Imagery in Florida and an ABR volunteer since 2003. The dogs she chose to feature are everyday examples of the dogs ABR serves.

Laid Up With a Bum Back

The human back is an incredible piece of engineering. It's strong and limber. You can move furniture and work out at the gym, but lean over to pick up a racquetball and twist the wrong way....CREAK!

So since my back was already a little sore to begin with (who knows why, I haven't overdone it lately), I guess racquetball yesterday didn't do me any good. And I'm trying to keep my laptop from burning my lap at the same time. I'm laid up at home in the recliner, watching a rerun of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" on USA, having come home from work early. And since I'm here, I figure this is a good of a time as any to get a couple new entries up.

On Sunday night, some of us got together for an evening in: a little wine, some cheese and fruit and a no-bake pie from Gooseberry Patch's "Patchwork Potluck."

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
9 inch graham cracker pie crust
21 oz can blueberry pie filling
1 tsp. lemon juice

Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. (They actually called for nutmeg but I was out and used cinnamon instead.) Spread evenly into the crust and set aside. Combine the pie filling the lemon juice (if the can of pie filling is big enough, you can use a butter knife and mix it right in the can.) Spoon the pie filling over the cream cheese mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 6-8.

I actually made this pie the day before and it held up really well. I half exptected the blue gel or whatever of the filling to mix into the cream cheese and stain it, or give it a messy look. But it didn't.

However, I have to admit...I thought it was extremely bland in taste, at least the cream cheese part anyway. It was like having a mouthful of tasteless mush. I was really surprised by that, because come's cream cheese!!! And Gooseberry Patch has great recipes. But I guess this was just a fluke. But the fact remains, this was a one-time recipe for me. Hopefully, if someone else makes it, they will discover a tasty ingredient that was forgotten somewhere along the way.