How to make a crocheted dish cloth (not!)

How to make a crocheted dish cloth (not!)

I picked up a cute skein of cotton yarn yesterday at Goodwill for $.59. I figured this was plenty to make a couple of crocheted dish cloths. So, I googled “free crochet dish cloth patterns” and found a really cute nubby dish cloth. All it really required was some single crochet and treble crochet. Not a problem. I haven’t crocheted in awhile, but it’s just like riding a bike…you never really forget how.
Except…mine looks like a trapezoid. :/ I unraveled it and tried again…still a trapezoid.
So…on to Plan B. I googled “free beginner’s dishcloth pattern” and found one that it just single crochet. Surely I can’t mess that one up! Hopefully…

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Okay…after this dishcloth became trapezoidal in nature 1/2 way through, my sister suggested knitting one. So, I got out the knitting needles and pulled up a beginning pattern for that. It’s been oh…probably 23 or more years since I’ve knitted. (What?!)

After a very nice tutorial http://www.queenofdiy.com/stitchery/knitting-beginners-guide.html I felt that I could try again….and again…and one more time…ugh!!! Okay one more try…so far this one is going pretty darn good…please Lord don’t let me drop a stitch!

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Update on the “Day of the Dishcloth”. After several video tutorials on everything from adding yarn to yarn tension, and casting off…SUCCESS!!! 😀

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How to make a Hobo Style purse

How to make a Hobo Style purse A friend of mine messaged me with pictures of some cute fabric that she was just dying to make into a hobo style bag. She came over later that night and together we made it! 🙂 IMG_20130713_182901We did find a pattern for a purse in one of my books here at the house, but unfortunately it had to be enlarged 167%. I tried to do this on my copy machine, but that didn’t really work out. So…Plan B! I drew one on the back of some large paper that I had and cut it out. IMG_20130713_184232   IMG_20130713_184241   We decided that the gray fabric would make a great bottom and that it might be easier to cut the pattern out if it were already attached to the focus fabric, so I went ahead and sewed those two pieces together. Then I laid the pattern on the fabric and positioned it along the fold like it showed in the book. After I pinned it in place I cut it out. I later realized that I had to do this twice for the front and back pieces. IMG_20130713_184730Next I had to cut out two pieces of the yellow for the lining of the purse. IMG_20130713_185059 The directions in the book weren’t very clear about the next steps, so here’s where I kind of had to finesse it a bit and just go with my instinct. IMG_20130713_185743 I put the lining and the outside of the purse together and kind of folded it in to get a picture in my head of what it was going to look like. I decided to sew the handles of the purse together and then with wrong sides together sew around the outside of the sides and handles. IMG_20130713_185347IMG_20130713_192350   I pressed it afterwards and then pressed a 1/4″ seam for the arm hole so that I could sew it down with a top stitch. Not super easy, but it got the job done. Just to give it a more finished look I top stitched around both sides of the handles. *The 2 halves of the purse are not connected yet.* I repeated the handle process for the other half of the purse. I joined the 2 halves together at the side seams being careful to match up the gray bottom.IMG_20130713_190230   Next the pattern in the book said to make the bottom of the purse and then attach it. Again…not really clear directions, but after some consultation with my friend, we decided that if we cut some gray and coordinating fabric just a little smaller than the purse width and then about 5 1/2″ tall, that would be a good size. I just cut rectangles to start, but then eased the corners into an oval as much as I could. I later cut off the excess fabric and then zigzag stitched over the edges so that they would be finished like the rest of the bag. IMG_20130713_205009   IMG_20130713_204953   We were pretty pleased with it overall. 🙂

How to slice home made bread

How to slice home made bread

If you’ve ever attempted to slice home made bread and ended up with smooshed, too-thick slices, or too-thin slices then this post is for you.
I love to make home made bread. It’s far more delicious and healthy than store bought, not to mention much more cost effective. The only thing that ever really kept me from baking it more frequently was the slices. I wanted to be able to use it for sandwiches, toast, you know…normal bread things. But, somehow I always ended up with less than fabulous looking slices. And then, I discovered the best tool in my kitchen to use was my electric knife! Yay! 🙂
First you need to make sure that your bread is completely cooled. If you want to slice off a piece to butter right out of the oven, that’s ok, but for slicing the whole loaf…wait until it’s completely cooled.
To make sandwich slices line the knife up about the size that you recognize a store-bought slice to be, then zip through it. I like to start the slice and then hold the slice onto the loaf while you continue to slice. It keeps the bread intact a little better.

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Take your time and go through the whole loaf.

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I store mine in a gallon zip top bag. They are now ready for some amazing sandwiches! 😉

Food Waste Friday

FoodWasteFriday In an effort to be more mindful of using up food in the fridge instead of letting it go to waste, I am participating in Food Waste Friday starting this upcoming Friday 7/19/2013. This is where I will post embarrassing pictures of food that I have to throw out. I expect it will force me to rethink throwing it out if I have to be publicly accountable.  If you want to participate in Food Waste Friday on your blog, just visit The Frugal Girl blog (the link is in the margin on the right, or just click on the logo). She shares the code for this logo and leads the crusade in being more mindful or our food waste.

Using a Pressure Canner

Using a Pressure Canner

I was recently given several pounds of carrots. Most people would scratch their heads and wonder what in the world they were gonna do with more than 6 pounds of carrots! If you have a pressure cooker/canner you can very easily store them for later. Which is what I did.

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I also have been getting quite a lot of snap beans (green beans) from my kitchen garden. I planted a mix of wax, green, and purple beans. Aren’t they pretty? I never tried the purple ones before this year. I was amazed to find out than when cooked they look just like any other green bean. 🙂 Since I don’t really want to have green beans every night of the week, and I don’t want all of my efforts in the garden to go to waste, I can them for later use. It’s really very easy to do. You only need a few items: jars, lids and rims, salt, canning tongs, and your pressure cooker/canner.

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1. Wash the beans and snap off the stems/ends if you like. I usually snap them in half too, but you can process them whole as well if that’s your preference.

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2. Put them into clean, sterilized jars. I am using pint jars today. Be sure to really pack them in as tight as you can!

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3. Add 1/2 tsp. of salt to each pint or 1 tsp. per quart.
4. Add hot water to each jar leaving 1″ of head space at the top. Then, use a slim rubber spatula to gently remove air pockets from the jars. Add more water if you need to.
5. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp cloth. This step is important! If the rims are not clean, your jars may not seal properly.
6. Put the lids/rims on the jars. Do not over tighten them, just close them like you would a jar of mayonnaise.
7. Load the jars into your canner with water coming up about 1/4 way on the jars. Close the canner and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to use it.

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8. I add the weight for 10 pounds of pressure and wait for the canner to start making it’s jiggling noises. That’s when you start counting the processing time. For green beans you process them for 20 minutes in pint jars, 25 in quart jars.
9. When the processing time is up, turn the heat off and wait for the canner to cool down. This takes awhile…mine sometimes takes about 40 minutes to an hour to cool enough. When it’s cool, remove the weight and lid from the canner carefully. Let it stand open for about 10 minutes, and then remove the jars to a towel with the canning tongs.
10. After your jars have sat for 12-24 hours, remove the rims, wipe the jars, and mark the lids with the contents and date. Store them in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to use them.

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Canning and Preserving 101

If you have ever wanted to try canning/preserving your own food but were afraid to mess something up and give everyone food poisoning…then this post is for you. Canning is actually pretty easy to do. I’m going to show you how to process using the boiling water bath (bbb) method. This method is only suitable for preserving pickled foods, jams/jellies, tomatoes, and other foods with a high acid content. If you want to can other types of vegetables you will need to process them in the pressure canner, which I will show you how to do in a future post. 🙂 To start you will need to make sure you have a few supplies on hand. I will need some canning jars, lids, rims, a funnel, canning tongs, and a large pot. I will also use a dutch oven to cook the jam in.

Today I am making a batch of strawberry-kiwi jam. YUMMY! I got this recipe out of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing, and Dehydration. This book is a great resource for putting up food. It also gives very nice illustrated directions for exactly what to do each step of the way. It’s available a lot of places that you find canning supplies. I picked this one up at Wal-mart years ago, and I just recently got a newer version with my sister-in-law at Wal-mart again. (I’m not endorsing Wal-mart in any way…I’m just letting you know where I got the book.) Here is the recipe as it is in the book. I am going to adapt this ever so slightly.

Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration

Guide to Home Canning, Freezing & Dehydration

Strawberry-Kiwi Jam

3 cups crushed strawberries

3 kiwi, peeled and diced

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon minced crystallized ginger

1 package powdered pectin

5 cups sugar

Combine strawberries, kiwi, lemon juice, ginger and pectin in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 6 half-pints.

1.   Get water boiling in your canner. I put my jars, lids, and rims in to sterilize while I do this.

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2.   Gather all of your ingredients. I am using liquid pectin today instead of the powdered. I am also doubling the recipe above, so there is a lot more strawberries and kiwi pictured. 🙂 If you have never used crystallized ginger, I found it in the Asian section at Publix. It really is worth putting in the jam. It comes in little disks of ginger covered in sugar. Just slice and dice them as fine as you can. One or two pieces is equal to about a Tablespoon. I have used fresh lemon, bottle lemon juice, and substituted a little fruit fresh for the lemon in the recipe. Today I happen to have fresh. Another thing to note…my strawberries are pretty ripe. This is going to cause my jam to be more soft set. If you prefer a firmer set to your jam, use fruit that it less ripe. (The olive oil happened to be in the back ground…it is not a part of this recipe.)

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3. I put the sugar and ginger in my pot first, then I chop the strawberries and kiwi up and add them on top as I go. Finally I put the liquid pectin in.IMG_20130710_112813

4. I gently stir the mixture until it starts to melt over medium high heat. Then, when the sugar is melted, before it comes to a boil I use a potato masher to crush the fruit.

IMG_20130710_1137065. After you have let it come to a rolling boil, while stirring the whole time, you take it off of the heat immediately. You should gently scoop the pink foam off of the top. Your jam is ready to put into the jars when you see more red than pink foam.

6. Use a funnel and ladle the hot jam into your hot jars. I use the bottom of my funnel as a guide for how high to go. Leave a 1/4″ head space.

7. It is very important to wipe the rims of your jars with a damp cloth before you put the lids on. It helps to seal the jars properly.

8. Carefully put the jars into your boiling water canner. Hopefully the water is boiling by now. You can’t start timing the batch until it is boiling. Since I used pint jars instead of half pints, I added 5 minutes to my processing time. (15 minutes).

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9. When the jars are ready to come out of the canner, use the tongs to set them on a folded towel to cool. Listen for them to “pop”. This means that they are sealed. 🙂

10. Let the jam cool for 12-24 hours. Remove the rings. Wipe the jars off with a damp cloth and use a sharpie to label the jam with the date and type of jam on the lid. Store them in cool dark place.

Make a rag rug out of an old sheet

Make a rag rug out of an old sheet

Here is my rag rug in progress from an old queen size sheet set that someone gave me. The elastic was shot, but the fabric is still very usable. I have had success using a mixture of scrap fabric for the rag rugs, but it is so much easier to do it when you have longer pieces. The important thing is to use what you have. 🙂
I’ve had several people ask me how to make these. They are very easy to do. You do need to have some basic crochet skills for this version though. There are other ways to go about making rag rugs if you aren’t savvy with a crochet needle.

  1. First you’ll need to cut your fabric into strips. I do mine about 2″ wide. They can be narrower if you like. You can zip through the fabric in no time if you have a rotary cutter, but if not, scissors will do the trick. They do not need to be perfect. Imperfections will not show in this project.
  2. Next you cut off the hems from the sheet. They are a little too thick to deal with while crocheting.
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  3. I fold the strips in half “hot dog” style on the ends and tie them together to join them into my fabric yarn.
  4. IMG_20130630_113656Then you begin by crocheting a chain of stitches. I have done it where I joined them into a circle and then made circular rugs. You can just keep adding rounds until you get the size rug you want. On this project I wanted more of an oval rug, so I crocheted a chain and then double crocheted stitches on to it for 2 more rows.
  5. IMG_20130630_113729In order to make the rug round out, you’ll want to add an extra double crochet stitch to each of the corners to make it turn. Every so often you might want to add another extra double crochet on the corners to keep it rounding nicely and not pucker up on itself.
  6. Tuck the stray ends of your fabric that stick out to one side of the rug. That way you’ll have a raggedy side and a smooth side to choose from.
  7. These rugs are machine washable and dry-able. I would also recommend putting down some sort of rubber grip under your rug if you have it on a smooth floor so that it doesn’t accidentally slip out from under you. I got some from where you by contact paper for drawers and shelves. It comes in a roll, but I’ve also see them as place mats.

I’d love to see your finished rag rugs if you make some!