WIP Wednesday: Giant Granny and Clamshell Cushion

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This is just a quick post to share the projects that I am currently working on.  I promised more yarny goodness in my last post, so I hope this delivers :)

Clamshell Cushion by Dandelion Daze - design by Cherry Heart

First, I’m still working on my clamshell cushion.  I was working on several projects at once, but this was my “for fun” project at the time.  I finally have the time work on this more than just a row or two at a time, so it’s finally coming together!  The pattern is by Cherry Heart and I just love her design!  It’s a little tricky for some, but once you get it down, it goes pretty quickly.

Crochet Cushion Back

I also used Cherry Heart’s tutorial for the cushion back.  I used it once before, on the sunburst cushion also in this picture, and I think it’s a little bit genius.  I’m done with the bottom half, and will be starting on the top half this evening.  All it will need after that is a border and some buttons.

Giant Granny by Dandelion Daze

I’ve also started another giant granny square blanket.  I’m debating where to go from here, though.  I’m thinking about finishing off this square and then making several more in different colors to join together into a blanket.  Or I may just continue on with some more colors and make it one big giant granny.  We’ll see, I’m still kicking it around!  One thing I do know about this project is that I’m in love with these colors together.

Giant Granny by Dandelion Daze

Go………create something beautiful today!

-Heather

A Little Campy…A Little Crafty…A Lot Crazy

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The title itself basically sums up how my lovely life has been for the past few weeks.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing!

I realized a few weeks ago that we had somehow managed to let the whole summer slip by without a single camping trip.  That’s just not acceptable in my book, so I quickly reserved a spot for us on the last weekend before the kids started school.  We went up to the mountains near Big Bear, which is only 2 hours away, if we hit traffic.  If you live in SoCal like me, you know that you almost always hit traffic.

Camping essentials: cards, dominoes, a good book, and of course, yarny goodness.

Camping essentials: cards, dominoes, a good book, and of course, yarny goodness.

Once we got our campsite set up, the boys went off to find us some firewood.  They came back with mostly pine cones!

Once we got our campsite set up, the boys went off to find us some firewood. They came back with mostly pine cones!

This was just a quick camping trip, we only stayed two nights, but it was a much needed unwinding together as a family.  I just love hanging out with my boys around the fire, laying the hammock reading or working on my crochet, and of course cooking!  I love to cook, even on a camp stove.  The first night I cooked up some rib eye steaks and the second night I made clam chowder.  Food always seems to taste better when you’re camping, at least it does to me.

The week following our trip was when the crazy really kicked in!  The kids started the new school year, as well as the new soccer season.  I volunteered to be team manager for one of their teams and let me tell you, that’s not as easy peasy as it was when they weren’t playing on a competitive level!  To top off the crazy, I took my dog to the vet to get spayed in the middle of that week.  And then this week, my other dog broke her dewclaw, so I had both dogs at the vet this morning!  Thankfully the kids weren’t there since they were in school.  Otherwise, I think I would have left my sanity there when I brought my dogs home!

This is our newest addition, Sorsha.  She actually doesn't mind the cone of shame too much!

This is our newest addition, Sorsha. She actually doesn’t mind the cone of shame too much!  I’m sure she can’t wait to go to the bathroom sans the leash!

And this is my girl, Marley, or Marles Barkley as I like to call her, at the vet getting that broken dewclaw checked out.

And this is my girl, Marley, or Marles Barkley as I like to call her, at the vet getting that broken dewclaw checked out.  I’m glad I painted my toes the day before C stole my phone to take pictures while I talked to the vet!  I do have a picture of Marley’s toe, but it’s not pretty, so I’ll keep it to myself.

So, now I’ve got Sorsha home and without stitches, but Marley is at the vet still.  He didn’t have any appointments available today, so instead he had me drop her off and will make time between patients.  I should be hearing from him anytime now about what he’s going to do to fix her up.  I love this guy, I hate taking my dogs to anyone besides him!

I feel like there needs to be more yarn.  Of course, there can never be enough yarn.

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This was just a quick little project, which I whipped up for my cousin’s birthday.  She is visiting us right now from Connecticut and I haven’t seen her in years!  It’s a hot pad or just a cute little table decoration and she loved it.  I’m so glad.  For this, I used Lucy’s hexagon pattern and JAYG (join-as-you-go) method.

I promise, there will be much more yarn in my next post!  So, until then…

Go…….create something beautiful today!

-Heather

Book Review and Daisy Chain Coaster Tutorial

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Daisy Chain Coaster

Last week I finally bought a crochet book that I’ve had my eye for a while.  I’ve been working on some bigger projects and was really in need of an instant gratification project, so I turned to my new book for some inspiration.  A short while later, after tweaking the pattern for one of the squares, I had some really cute coasters!

After the book review below, I’ll show you my mods to the pattern so you can make your own Daisy Chain Coasters.

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I can’t seem to put down Jan Eaton’s book, 200 Crochet Blocks.  I wanted this book after seeing some really beautiful crochet projects done with the squares, such as Cherry Heart’s Sampler Blanket and Coco Rose Diaries’ Lazy Daisy Scarf.  The book did not disappoint, the squares are lovely and there is something for any crochet taste.

Book Review: 200 Crochet Blocks

Also, I love that each square has a “mix-and-match” section at the end of the instructions which tells you other squares in the book that it would mix well with.  With 200 squares, it’s helpful to see some suggestions at a glance for selecting a mix of squares that will work nicely together in a blanket.  There is also a section about color that outlines how you can easily create your own color palettes.  Some of the blocks are shown in multiple color schemes to give you an idea how much color can change the look of the same block.

Daisy Chain Coasters by Dandelion Daze

Daisy Chain Coaster Tutorial

I used worsted weight yarn and an F (3.75mm) hook.  My coaster with the picot edge is 5.5″ in diameter and the scallop edged one is 5″ in diameter.
You can find the Daisy Chain square on page 99 of Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks.
Complete Rounds 1-4 in one color per the pattern instructions.

Daisy Chain Coaster Tutorial - Rounds 1-4

This is what your coaster will look like after Rounds 1-4.

Daisy Chain Coaster Tutorial by Dandelion Daze

Round 5: Chain 6, then skip the next two stitches (don’t count the joining stitch) and then slip stitch in the the next two stitches where you see the arrows in the photo above.  Repeat around until you get to the end.  You will then have 12 loops of chain 6 spaces around.

Daisy Chain Collage

To end Round 5, we will do one slip stitch in the last single crochet of Round 4 and then use the seamless finish method with the first slip stitch of Round 5.  You can watch the video here to learn this method if the above photos aren’t clear enough.  Here is what you do: Picture 1 shows that you pull the yarn through after the last slip stitch as if to fasten off and then thread it through a yarn needle.  Picture 2 shows that you insert the needle under the first slip stitch of Round 5 and pull it through.  Picture 3 shows that you then insert the needle in the middle of the last slip stitch of Round 5 and picture 4 shows that you pull it under the back loop through to the back side of the work.  Then weave in the end as normal.

Daisy Chain Coaster Tutorial by Dandelion Daze

Round 6: Attach the same color with a slip stitch in any chain 6 space.  Chain 5, then make one single crochet in the next chain 6 space.  Continue around to the end, where we will end the round again with the seamless finish method.  This time, you’ll weave in the end from the beginning of the round first to make sure that the first slip stitch of the round is secure enough to use it for the seamless finish at the end.  Then complete seamless finish as instructed in Round 5.

Round 7 has two variations: Scallop Edge and Picot Edge

Scallop Edge: Attach the edging color in any single crochet of Round 6 with a slip stitch.  Chain one, then single crochet in same stitch as join.  Then, make 5 double crochets in the next chain 5 space.  Make one single crochet in the next single crochet.  Repeat this around until you get to the end of the round and join with the seamless finish method to the first single crochet of Round 7, not to the slip stitch.  Weave in the ends and you’re done!

Picot Edge: Attach the edging color in any chain 5 space from Round 6 with a slip stitch.  Next, chain 1, then make 4 single crochets, chain 1, 4 single crochets, all in the same chain 5 space.  Repeat in each chain 5 space from Round 6 to the end.  Attach with seamless finish method to the first single crochet of Round 7, not to the slip stitch.  Weave in the ends and you’re done!
Note: All stitches for this edging variation will be made in the chain 5 spaces of Round 6; none will be made in the single crochets of Round 6.

Daisy Chain Coaster Tutorial by Dandelion Daze

Please let me know if you have any questions at all about this tutorial.  I try to make it as clear as possible, but if something doesn’t make sense, I am more than happy to help you out!

Go………..create something beautiful today!

Heather

A Crafty Mish Mash…and Hummus

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I don’t like being sick.  I don’t know anyone who does, but this bug that I’ve got right now is really a nasty one!  And sharing is caring, you know, so I gave it to my husband and he’s now down for the count, as well.  Thankfully, the kids have been spared.  So I’ve had plenty of time to lay around this past week and work on some projects while catching up on old TV shows.  Right now, we’re watching The Shield, which we never watched when it aired, and it’s really good!

Months back, I made several Sunburst Granny Squares with no real intent for what I was going to do with them.  This is one my very favorite motifs to make, they come together very quickly and I just love the look of the stitches.

Sunburst Cushion by Dandelion Daze

I’ve been wanting to make a crocheted cushion for a while, so when I finally got around to buying a pillow form, I dug the squares out of the bottom of one my many bags of yarn and started hooking them together.  I attached them with slip stitches through the outer loops.  Lucy from Attic24 has a great tutorial on this here.

Sunburst Cushion by Dandelion Daze

Since I didn’t make these squares with a cushion in mind, it turned out they were a bit too small for the 12×12 pillow form I wanted to use.  So, after joining them together, I did a row of hdc all the way around which pretty much did the trick of making the front big enough.  I added 3 extra hdc in each corner stitch to avoid buckling.

Then I crocheted the back of the cushion right onto the front, using Cherry Heart’s tutorial here.  She has two tutorials on this, but it worked just fine for me using the first only.

Sunburst Cushion by Dandelion Daze

Finally, I added some buttons to secure the back.  Isn’t it cute?!  I really love how it turned out!  My sister-in-law is going to take it home but I have several more of these squares in the same colors, so I am going to make another to stay on my couch.

Ripple Cowl by Dandelion Daze

I am in love with this yarn that I am using for a ripple cowl.  I bought it from the Mendocino Yarn Shop while on vacation a few weeks ago.  It is sooooo soft!  The yarn is Canopy Fingering by The Fibre Company.  It’s a blend of baby alpaca, merino, and bamboo.  I am using three colors: kaffir plum, rosehip, and blue crown.

Ripple Cowl by Dandelion Daze

This pattern is a Japanese chart that I saw on Pinterest months ago and have been admiring ever since.  I use mostly worsted weight yarn, but I knew I wanted to use a light yarn for it and this was perfect.  You can find the chart here.  It’s all in Japanese, but is pretty straightforward as the chart is broken down into the first several rows.  If enough people are interested, I wouldn’t mind writing up a post on how to follow this chart, so let me know if it’s difficult for you to decipher.

Space Cape by Dandelion Daze

What little boy doesn’t love wearing a cape?  I have one who just can’t have enough capes!  When I found this adorable embroidery pattern by Love the Blue Bird, I asked C what he would like me to put it on and the answer was, of course, a cape.  I had a few capes left over from his birthday party last year, so I put one in an embroidery hoop and got to work.  I used to do a little cross stitch years and years ago, but I haven’t done any embroidery before.  I think it turned out pretty well.  C wants me to add an alien, an astronaut, and Jupiter!  So, I have to look up some more patterns and add them to his space cape.  His birthday party is this weekend and he says that he wants to wear this cape to the party.

If you want to see how to turn a pillowcase into a cape like this one, check out my post about C’s birthday party last year, here.

Hummus and Veggies

And finally, the hummus!  This is one of our favorite snacks.  I have tried many, many recipes for homemade hummus and have found what I think is the best recipe out there.  It is Alton Brown’s recipe, called Hummus for Real.  I’ve never made the slow cooker chick peas called for in the recipe, I just use a 16 oz can of chick peas (also called garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed.  I buy the tahini from Sprouts, which is a farmer’s market style store.  Places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s should carry it as well.

I think this is the best recipe out there and it is a great base for making flavored hummus.  I’ve added in roasted red peppers and it’s killer.  Also, you can grill some jalapenos or Anaheim chiles on charcoal grill and add them to the hummus.

I’m off to take some more cough medicine and hopefully ditch this awful bug!  The doctor said I’ll probably cough like this for another week, though.  I have a birthday party to get ready for, so I’ve got to fight through it!

Go………..create something beautiful today!

Heather

I’m Still Here!

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Hello to all of my lovely readers!  I’m not sure how many of you are still here, I’ve been gone from my little blog for so long it seems.  Sorry about that!  Life has a way of taking over my bloggy life and next thing I know, it has been months since I have written a post.  The good thing is that I’ve been busy working away on some great things in my life and that nothing terrible is at fault for keeping me away (thank you to the readers that sent me nice little messages over the last few months checking in with me, everything has been busily wonderful!).

This post has a lot of pictures of what I’ve been crocheting and where I’ve been traveling, so I hope you don’t mind if I just let the photos do much of the talking!

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For Mother’s Day, my husband and boys took me to the local ceramics shop and we painted a few items.  They had this noodle bowl which has a hole in it for holding chopsticks.  I, of course, immediately thought “yarn bowl!!!”.  When I picked it up after they fired it, I was so happy with how lovely it turned out.  And, naturally, C thought it would be a great place for Kirby to hang out when I’m not using it for yarn.

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Our friends are expecting a baby boy in a few months and of course I had to make a blanket for the little guy.  I can’t wait to meet him!  We have been friends with this couple since high school.  I have actually known the dad since we were 12 and he’s been my husband’s best friend since they were in Jr High!  Which is kind of funny because although my husband and I had a lot of mutual friends, we went to different schools and didn’t meet until I was 19.

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This little lovely is a pincushion that I made and I think several more are in order.  It’s just a fun little project and keeps my yarn needles from getting lost.  You can get the pattern over at Cherry Heart.  She has a wonderful blog that I really enjoy browsing, so do go take a look!

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This is just a little sneak peek at the colors I’ll be using for a clamshell cushion.  This is another of Cherry Heart’s patterns and I’m really enjoying it.

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We took a very fun trip up to Mendocino, CA.  It’s about an 11 hour drive from where we live, so it was quite the drive, but so worth it!  We were there to see our friends get married.  The ceremony was right on the bluffs, with the ocean in the background and it was just gorgeous.  Of course, I had to find the LYS in town and I picked up some very lovely Canopy Fingering.  It’s blend of baby alpaca, merino, and bamboo and it is crazy soft!  I’m using it to crochet a ripple cowl from a Japanese chart that I’ve been admiring for quite some time.

I’ll be posting a new pattern soon, as well as a few new recipes.  I’ve so missed being on my blog and I hope ya’ll forgive my absence!  Go……….create something beautiful today!

-Heather

FREE Crochet Pattern: Chevron Infinity Scarf

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I have a new pattern to share today for my Chevron Infinity Scarf.  I saw a similar scarf for sale on Etsy months ago but it had been sold and there wasn’t a pattern available for purchase.  So after having it in the back of my mind for months, I finally tried my hand at making my own.

Chevron Infinity Scarf by Dandelion Daze

Here is what I came up with!  You can use any combination of colors that you’d like.  I wanted something bright and was going for kind of tribal/Azteca colors.  I don’t think the colors looked exactly “tribally” together, but I still love the result.  I chose 7 colors and crocheted them in a random order.  I used the random stripe generator to get started and then made up my own scheme after I got started.  So, pick out some colors and follow my pattern instructions below.  Have fun!

Chevron Infinity Scarf by Dandelion Daze

Chevron Infinity Scarf

Difficulty: Easy – Great beginner project!
Stitches used: ch and sc

Supplies:
Hook: G (4.25mm)
Yarn: Worsted Weight in various colors to achieve your desired look.  I used a combination of Loops and Threads Impeccable and Vanna’s Choice.  Sorry, but I don’t know the yardage for this project.  That also differs on the length you choose to make it.
Yarn needle for weaving in ends.

Notes:
*The drape is a little stiff with a G hook, so you may want to try a larger one, like an I.  I was hoping it would soften up with wear, but it’s still a bit stiffer than I’d like after having worn several times over a few weeks.
*Start and end with the same color to help hide the join when you attach the two ends together in a circle at the end.
*To make the scarf wider, extend the length of the chain in increments of 8 (so instead of 32, chain 40 or 48).
*Crocheting over the ends is a real time saver since there can be a lot of ends to weave in if you change colors as often as I did.  Just hold the tails behind your work along the top of the stitches from the previous rows.  When you make your stitches, insert the hook under the stitch indicated and include those tails.  You’ll work right over them and they’ll disappear like magic!

Instructions:
Ch 32
Row 1: 1sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1sc in next 6 chs, 3sc in next ch, 1sc in next 7 chs, sk next ch, 1sc in next 7 chs, 3sc in next ch, 1sc in next 7 chs to end.  Turn.

Row 2: Ch1, 1sc in 1st sc, sk 1 st, 1sc in next 6 sts, 3sc in next st, 1 sc in next 7 sts, sk 2 sts, 1 sc in next 7 sts, 3sc in next st, 1sc in next 6 sts, sk 1 st, 1sc in last st.  Turn.

Repeat Row 2 until scarf is desired length, changing colors as little or as often as you’d like to achieve your desired color scheme.

Join the two ends together to make a circle.  You can sew them together or crochet them.  I chose to crochet them together with slip stitch.  It’s a little funky, because you have to hold the ends at an angle to match up the peaks and valleys of the chevrons as you go along.

Fasten off and weave in ends.  You’re done!

Chevron Infinity Scarf by Dandelion Daze

I hope you’ve enjoyed my pattern and will make your own scarf soon!

Go………create something beautiful today!
-Heather

PS…I am linking up this post over at Hookin On Hump Day at My Merry Messy Life.  Go check out all the other fun projects that have been linked up to the party!

What’s for Dinner? Lobster and Crab Ravioli with Garlic Cream Sauce

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This dinner of Lobster and Crab Ravioli is one that my husband requested.  I was a bit surprised when he asked me to make this.  He likes very simple meals and is not a big fan of pasta (polar opposite of my palette!).  Also, the man had never tried lobster in his life until we started dating.  I’ve introduced him to many new foods, most of which he doesn’t ever seem to be overly excited about.  Although lobster has stayed a favorite of his, I was surprised that he’d ask me to cook up a few perfectly good lobster tails, mix a bunch of other stuff in there and stuff it inside some pasta.  Sounds great to me, but very unlike something he would request.

But I am so glad that he did request it, because it was delicious!  And I also got to do something out of the ordinary in the kitchen which I’m always a fan of.  There are a lot of steps but it was worth it.  C, my 4-year-old, was totally freaking out when I put this on the table.  He heard “lobster” and decided to start crying.  But once he did try it because it was that or eat nothing for dinner, he devoured it!  He pointed at the few bits of lobster and crab filling left on his plate and said he wanted more of “that part”.  When I informed him that “that part” was lobster and crab, he just started laughing.  So all of that to tell you two things: first, it’s so yummy that your picky 4-year-old will eat it and love it and second….well, I don’t remember what the second thing was because I wrote that part yesterday and can’t remember what I was going to say.  :/

Okay, so to get started, you need to make the pasta dough for the ravioli.  Grab these items here:

Homemade Pasta Dough by Dandelion Daze

Homemade Pasta Dough

2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp water

You’ll combine everything in a food processor and process it together for about 30 seconds or so.  If it’s too wet and sticky, add some more flour.  If it’s too dry, add some more water.  When it’s a nice consistency, turn the dough out onto a floured cutting board or counter top and knead until it is soft and smooth.

Homemade Pasta Dough by Dandeion Daze

Now you’ll wrap it up and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you make the filling for the ravioli.  Make sure you use the dough within a couple hours!

Now, for the filling and the sauce…..

Lobster and Crab Ravioli with Garlic Cream Sauce

For the filling:
2 or 3 lobster tails, about 4 oz each
6 oz lump crab meat
1 clove garlic crushed
2 Tbsp tomato puree
Juice 1/2-1 lemon, depending on your taste…and juiciness of your lemon.
1 tsp thyme
2 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
Dash cayenne

For the sauce:
1-1/2 cups of reserved lobster water (don’t dump the water after boiling the lobster!!)
1 tsp chicken base or chicken bullion cube
1 cup half and half
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper

Okay so first you’ll need to boil the lobster tails for about 7 minutes.  I only had two tails, but I’ll get three next time.

Lobster and Crab Ravioli by Dandelion Daze

No wonder C didn’t want to eat them, they do look funky when you’re only 4!

Lobster and Crab Ravioli by Dandelion Daze

Now, leave the water on to boil and reduce down as you prepare the filling.  You want it to get down to about 1-1/2 cups.

Take a pair of kitchen shears and just cut the tails open down the back and bottom and remove the meat.  You’ll chop all of that up.  Chop up the crab meat into about the same size chunks.

Lobster and Crab Ravioli by Dandelion Daze

Transfer the crab and lobster meat into a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients for the filling to the bowl and stir everything up until it is all combined.  Give it a little taste and adjust any seasonings as you’d like.

Lobster and Crab Ravioli by Dandelion Daze

Now, this is the fun part!  Remove the pasta dough from the fridge and grab a chunk of it.  On a floured cutting board or counter top, roll out the dough into a long thin rectangle.  Not too thin, as you don’t want the ravioli to fall apart when cooking.  Set this rectangle aside and do the same with another, trying for the same approximate size and shape since these will be top and bottom pieces.

Homemade Pasta Dough by Dandelion Daze

Once you have two rectangles, brush one with an egg wash which will ensure the top sheet of pasta sticks to it.  Now, place dollops of the filling on the piece you brushed with the egg wash.

Lobster and Crab Ravioli by Dandelion Daze

Then, place the top piece on and carefully push down the dough around the filling so the two pieces stick.  Try to not leave any air inside the pocket, as it could cause the ravioli to burst when you cook them.

Lobster and Crab Ravioli by Dandelion Daze

Now, cut the ravioli into square size pieces.  You don’t need to leave too much pasta around the edge of the pocket, but don’t cut it too close or else there won’t be enough to really seal it.  If you’ve ever eaten ravioli before, I’m sure you can figure it out!

Take a fork and then just crimp around the edges of each pocket so that it’s sealed.

Lobster and Crab Ravioli by Dandelion Daze

Now, you’re ready to make the sauce!  In a saucepan, bring the reserved lobster water to a boil and add in the chicken base and crushed garlic.  Let that dissolve and get really fragrant, then reduce the heat to med-low and add in the half and half, salt and pepper and cheese.  I only added about 1/4 cup of cheese, as I didn’t want the sauce to be too heavy.  But it definitely wasn’t getting thick enough no matter how long I let it simmer without it, so I added in the cheese to help things along and it was so good!  Anyhow, whisk everything together pretty much constantly over a low heat setting until the cheese is all melted, which shouldn’t be long.

Finally, carefully place the ravioli in a pot of boiling water and cook for about 3-5 minutes.  It took a few minutes longer than I expected with fresh pasta for mine to cook, closer to 6 minutes, so just keep an eye on it.  Also, brush the edges with a little more egg wash if they begin to dry out at all while you’re making the sauce.

Remove the ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon and place three or so on a plate.  Top with the sauce and serve right away.

At this point, we were really hungry!  So of course I didn’t take any pictures of the finished dish before we ate, I just figured I would do it with the leftovers after we were done.  But…..there weren’t any leftovers!  So I hope you can use your imagination for how this looked all put together!  I guess I’ll just have to make it again (oh darn!) and update the picture later.

I hope you are all enjoying your day wherever you may be!  Go…………create something beautiful today!

-Heather

What’s for Dinner? Spaghetti and Everything Meatballs with Vodka Sauce

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So I’ve been MIA for a bit with the flu and then a nasty cold that followed.  I haven’t had the flu since I was in high school and I always get my flu shot (which of course everyone has an opinion about, I’ve gotten an earful of them over the last few weeks!!) but this year, everyone in my house had their turn with the nasty bug.  I haven’t been blogging much, but I have been taking pictures of everything I would normally blog about, so I have a bit of a stockpile of recipes and crafts to share over the next few weeks.

The first of those that I would like to share with you is something we call Spaghetti and Everything Meatballs.  This is what I make anytime the kids ask for spaghetti and meatballs.  It’s a very unique meatball recipe and we all just love it.  I use a store bought vodka sauce instead of a marinara.  I haven’t tried to make my own vodka sauce yet because the one I use from the jar is surprisingly good.  But I do have a few recipes for it that I’ll eventually try out.  We call these Everything Meatballs for the obvious reason: they have so many yummy ingredients in one place!  Now this is my slight variation of Rachael Ray’s Big Beef Meatballs so I can’t take full credit for this being my recipe.  I’ve just made a few tweeks to it to suit my tastes but I haven’t radically changed anything.

I got ahead of myself as I’ve been known to do when cooking, so I don’t have an ingredients photo.  So you’ll have to use your imagination for that part.  Now grab the following items and get started!

Spaghetti and Everything Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 large white or yellow onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Cremini mushrooms (also called baby bellas), chopped
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup either Parmesan, Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano or whatever you have on hand, shredded
3 Tblsp capers, drained and minced (I always throw in a little over, I love capers!!)
3 Tblsp fresh sage leaves, chopped (fresh sage really tastes so much better than dried in this!  But if using dried instead, use only about 1 Tblsp as dried herbs have a stronger flavor than fresh)
1 egg
Salt and Pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 jar Vodka Sauce (I use the Safeway brand from Vons or Pavilions, it’s delicious!)

First, you’ll want to put on a pot of water to boil for the spaghetti.  I seem to forget to do this first a lot of the time and then I’m stuck waiting for the water to boil before I can put the meatballs in the oven!  Also, preheat the oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, throw in the ground beef and all remaining ingredients except the pasta and sauce.

Spaghetti and Everything Meatballs

Now get in there with your hands (wash them first, please!!) and mix everything together.  This is always my favorite part.  It grosses some people out.  To each his own, I guess!

Spaghetti and Everything Meatballs

Now you’ll grab a big baking sheet and give it a quick coat of cooking spray.  Form the meat mixture into meatballs, about golf ball size, or even a little bigger.  I usually get about 18 meatballs out of this recipe.

Spaghetti and Everything Meatballs

I know, my baking sheet has seen better days.  I’ve cooked a lot of food on that thing!  It’s clean, I promise you.

Now, pop these guys into the oven and let them cook for about 15-20 minutes.  Don’t overcook them, you want them to be juicy.

While the meatballs are in the oven, drop in the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to package directions.  Also, pour the pasta sauce into a saucepan and heat it up.

When the meatballs are done, place them into large bowl or plate lined with paper towels to soak up the grease.  Then, put some pasta on a plate, top with three or so meatballs and the vodka sauce.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Everything Meatballs

I love these leftovers as well!  I will sometimes heat up the meatballs with some garbanzo beans instead of pasta and top with the vodka sauce.  So so good!

I have a recipe for Lobster and Crab Raviolis that I made a few days ago which I can’t wait to share with you all!  Look out for it, it’s a good one!

Go…………create something beautiful today!

-Heather

What’s for Dinner? Beef and Pork Chili

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This recipe for my Beef and Pork Chili is one that I have been meaning to share for a very long time.  It is the first recipe I ever came up with that I can actually say is mine, start to finish.  It is the result of my husband asking me to make a good, spicy, meaty chili to go on top of hot dogs.  Now I have always liked chunks of beef in my chili rather than ground beef, but I didn’t think that would work as well on hot dogs.  Not that I had ever made chili before.  Also, this chili has bacon in it.  It’s kind of the surprise ingredient that everyone sees in the bowl after a few bites.  I figured my husband thinks that everything is better with bacon, so why not?  And this is better with bacon!  Anyhow, I jotted down a shopping list of items that I thought would make for a delicious chili just like my man was requesting and I amazed myself by nailing it on the first try!

This is really tasty and has been a huge hit for everyone I have ever served it to.  This recipe makes a huge batch, so it’s my go-to for serving large crowds at birthday parties or pot lucks.  It also freezes very well, so I usually make a whole batch and freeze half of it when making it for just us.  That came in handy recently when my sister-in-law was sick and I dropped some off at her house while she was at work.

Grab these items and start chopping……..

Ingredients for Beef and Pork Chili by Dandelion Daze

Beef and Pork Chili

6 slices bacon, cut in 1/2″ pieces
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium white onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno, halved lengthwise and chopped (seeds and membranes removed to your liking.  Leave all or some for more heat.)
1/2 can (7 oz size) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced (if I forget to buy the jalapeno, then I will use a whole can.  This adds lots of spice as well as a delicious smoky flavor, please don’t skip it!)
3 Tblsp chili powder
1 Tblsp cumin
1 Tblsp paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork sausage (yup, like breakfast sausage!  I use Jimmy Dean)
1 cup beer (Newcastle or similar)
2 cans (15 oz size) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 oz size) crushed tomatoes
1 can (28 oz size) diced tomatoes

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Add the bacon and cook it until browned and crisp.  Meanwhile, chop the garlic, onions, bell peppers, jalapeno and chipotle peppers.  Don’t chop them up too small.

About this size.  I love these colors!

About this size. I love these colors!

Once the bacon is crisp, spoon off most of the grease and discard it.  Then, add the garlic, onions, peppers, chipotle peppers and jalapeno to the pot.  Give it a good stir and add in all the spices as well.  Cook this for several minutes until everything is a bit tender.

Beef and Pork Chili by Dandelion Daze

While the onions and peppers are cooking, brown the beef in a large skillet.  Drain off most of the fat and then add it to the pot with everything else.  You can also cook it directly in the pot after the onions and peppers are tender, but I like to remove some of the fat first, otherwise this can be a very greasy chili (but still delicious!).  Some people like it that way, so it’s up to you.  Do the same with the pork sausage, either brown it first and remove the fat or just cook it directly in the pot.

Once the meat has been added and is no longer pink, add the beer, beans and tomatoes.  You’ll give it a good stir, reduce the heat to low and then let it simmer for 90 minutes or longer.  This is a minimum, I like to let is simmer for closer to 2.5 hours to really let the flavors meld.

Beef and Pork Chili by Dandelion Daze

As you can see, this makes A LOT of chili!  My Dutch oven is 6.5 quarts and it’s nearly full.  Make sure you have a pot big enough or cut the ingredients in half if you don’t.

Dig in!  Serve over hot dogs with diced onions and cheddar cheese.  Or, my favorite, in a bowl with sour cream, cheddar cheese, sliced green onions and tortilla chips.

Go…….create something beautiful today!

-Heather

Made With Love

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A few days ago, I went to a baby shower for my nephew who is due in March.  I am so happy for my brother-in-law and his sweet girlfriend to welcome this baby into our family!  I have two nieces on my side of the family, but this will be my first nephew.  As a boy mom, I am really excited.  I crocheted several items for my new little nephew that I wanted to share.

First, I am a serious procrastinator.  That being said, I didn’t start his blanket until just a few days after Christmas.  All of a sudden I realized that if I didn’t start it right away, there was no way it would be ready in time for the shower.  I started hooking up squares in every minute of free time I had and, unbelievably, I finished it in exactly two weeks.

Retro Circles Blanket made by Dandelion Daze, pattern by Three Beans in a Pod

I am so happy with how this turned out.  The pattern is the Retro Circles Blanket by Three Beans in a Pod.  I made 42 squares and joined them 6 across and 7 down.  I joined them with single crochet stitches which gives the raised border between the squares.

The border for this blanket is 1 round of hdc in white, then I did one round of moss stitch in each color, followed by a final moss stitch round in white.  Moss stitch is * 1sc, ch1, sk next st * around.  In the corners, I did 1sc, ch 1, 1 sc all in the same corner stitch.

Here is a little closer look at the moss stitch border.  I just love how the colors seem to bleed together.

Here is a little closer look at the moss stitch border. I just love how the colors seem to bleed together.

I can not believe that I was able to make this in only two weeks.  My wrist was hurting pretty badly for a week or so after I finished, but of course I kept on crocheting, so that didn’t help matters.  I actually didn’t even touch a crochet hook yesterday but I think I need a few more days like that for my wrist to feel better.  I need to join a support group or something!  “Hi, my name is Heather and I can’t stop hooking!!”. ;)

One last look at this blanket because I really love how it turned out!

One last look at this blanket because I really love how it turned out!

So I thought I was all done with gifts for this little boy, as I had made him the blanket, a hat and a Sunburst Crochet Pillow Ball.  And the shower was in 3 days.  But then I was shopping for yarn for a different project and found a cotton ombre in the same colors I used in the blanket.  And it was on sale.  So, of course, I HAD to make him a little toy to go along with the blanket.  I just had to.

How cute is this little guy?!

How cute is this little guy?!

I love this little hippo!  I need to make another for my boys, before they’re too big to snuggle with stuffed animals.  This is the Harriet Hippo pattern by Fugly Crochet.  I just love that name, by the way!!  We used to say fugly all the time as kids and I don’t know many people who say it.  The pattern also includes an elephant made with the same body design and a different head.  It’s not a free pattern, however it is well worth the couple bucks I paid for it.  The pattern is very well-writen and includes many pictures to explain how the pieces come together.  I can’t say enough about how clever this design is.  There is no sewing together at all!  It’s pretty fun to join the pieces with crochet and suddenly see it all come together.

On Ravelry, there are many comments about this hippo coming out front heavy so it stands on it’s nose.  Having read that before I started, I added some ceramic pie weights to the stuffing in the feet and body.  I like these because they are pretty heavy for their size and also washable.  They are also too big to escape the crochet, but I still recommend putting them inside a little fabric liner or stocking if making the toy for a baby.

The pattern calls for safety eyes but I stitched the eyes on with a scrap of black yarn.  I just didn’t feel like going to the store again!

Hippo and Baby Blanket made by Dandelion Daze

I am so excited to meet my new little nephew!  My brother and his girlfriend really loved the gifts I made which is awesome because anyone who knits or crochets knows how great it feels when your handmade gifts are loved and appreciated.  And I’m so happy I made the hippo at the last minute because that was their favorite item of the things I made.

I hope you enjoyed this look at what I’ve been working on instead of blogging these last few weeks!

Go…….create something beautiful today!

-Heather

PS…I am linking up this post over at Hookin On Hump Day at My Merry Messy Life.  Go check out the other fiber arts projects that have been linked there as well!

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