Christmas Crochet in Progress

Christmas Crochet -

Happy winter! It wasn’t cold and snowy last time I checked in, but since then, Old Man Winter has come around to stay (and stay… and stay… our winters are long). This is my first winter in my new home, and I was quite happy to be able to get such a gorgeous view of the snow on the trees from my window. I may have even started humming “Let it Snow”!

Anyway, I’ve been so busy these past few weeks trying to get all my Christmas crochet together for the holidays. I usually start planning out my gifts at the beginning of the year for my family, and give myself 11 long months to work on them, but somehow I always end up rushing around in a bit of a panic after Thanksgiving is over with all that I still want to finish up before Christmas.

Luckily(?), my family members don’t read my blog, and therefore I’m free to share with you what I have in the works for them for Christmas. It’s been hard to keep these off of certain social media sites when I want to share them around, but it will be worth it in the end.

So here are some projects that I’m working on:

Christmas Crochet

 

First, there’s a Whovian on my xmas list, and I knew right away last year that I wanted to make him a Dr. Who crochet scarf. I couldn’t find a crochet pattern that I particularly liked, so I found a knit pattern instead. The pattern was written in rows so I did a ton of math to convert them over to the size crochet rows I was making. My calculator got a lot of use, but it’s come out well so far. This is a 12-foot scarf, so once I got the color pattern down, I figured it would be a breeze. After I got to 9 feet, though, I noticed that I had skipped a couple of those end stitches and the whole thing had gotten narrower (yep, I still make these little mistakes even after all these years!). So it was a little disheartening to have to pull out over 2 feet of tiny single crochets. It’s still at 7 feet, because after that I just had to take a break from it for a while, but it doesn’t seem like it will be more than a few days of work, so I’m comfortable with where I’m at right now. I know it will be a very well received gift!

Christmas Crochet

 So after I put that scarf aside, I picked up the BAMCAL afghan that I’ve been working on since January. And I have to stop and apologize for the quality of that photograph – it’s dark all the time as we get closer to the solstice and I was too excited to get the photo taken so I could move on with it, and so I didn’t wait for the sun.) I admit there was a period of time that I took a long break while I worked on the Sophie’s Garden centerpieces that will feature in the two sampler afghans that I hope to have finished by the 24th. But I was pleasantly surprised that of what I had, everything seemed to go together well, and I only have a handful of 6” squares to make until that one is done. This one below was I think the October square, so that’ll give you an idea of how much slacking I’ve been doing there. It’s called Sea Flower, and the link to the free pattern is here.

  Christmas Crochet 2 I’ve been experimenting with making some crochet bags using a tapestry technique, and if I can get this done in time, it will go to a dear friend who is my crochet buddy. It needs about 300 ends woven in, a lining and some handles, so I’m not exactly sure when it will be done, but since it doesn’t need to be done exactly by Christmas, it’s going at the lower end of my priorities.

Christmas Crochet

There are a few infant hats coming up… not for me, but for a friend of mine, whose babies were born less than a week ago. Even though my priority should be the xmas gifts, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the projects I’ve been working on so hard to do a little bit of fun crochet. You know, like taking a break from crochet to crochet? Ha, ha.

Finally, I’ve been making up some of my favorite dishcloths to sell at a local Christmas craft show. These are such a delight to make. I’m hoping other people will love them and find them just as useful as I do. I could make these up all day

There’s a slew of smaller projects for my kids, a less intricate afghan in progress for my brother, and one knit scarf that I’m worried will take more time than all the other projects put together (I’m not an especially good knitter). And somehow I keep telling myself I’ll have time to make a few other Pinterest crafts that I’ve had my eye on. But the joy of the season has me swept up in creating and sharing, so I’m taking it one day at a time.

So check back soon, because in a few weeks I am going to have a slew of finished projects to share!

~Mellie ★

Finished Crochet Mandalas

Crochet Mandala

I’ve finally finished up the crochet mandalas, which will be centerpieces for the blankets I’m making for Christmas. My deadline was supposed to be November 1st to have the entire blankets completed… oops!  I have a feeling it will be a busy month for me! Anyway, when I came across this pattern on Pinterest, I was inspired to make one up, just for the heck of it. It wasn’t until I was some rounds in that I decided that the size and the texture would make this square a great centerpiece for the blankets I’m making for my mom and my sister for Christmas. So I actually did each round twice as I went along, one on the purple, and one on the bright colored. They took quite a long time – I worked on them on and off since about the middle of August. But I have to say I am quite pleased with how they turned out! The texture is lovely, and I really like the flower detail on the outside of the center mandala.

Crochet Mandala

Crochet Mandala

 If I’m ever so inspired again in the future, I think this would look beautiful in a single color (like ecru), emphasizing the textural features. But I’m not even going to try to tackle that until I’ve caught up on my other hundred projects that need to be finished!

Crochet Mandala

 The pattern is a written and photo tutorial, which makes the somewhat complicated rounds much easier to understand. My main gripe with the pattern is the hundred thousand BPSC that are made (okay, maybe not quite that many, but it sure felt like it)! I changed a couple of rounds to BLO instead, just to give my wrist a break. I think it turned out okay anyway!

Crochet Mandala -

 The pattern is called Sophie’s Garden. It is free and can be found here. My project pages on Ravelry can be found here for the purple and here for the bright (which coordinates with my BAMCAL colors).

So now we’re down to 47 days before Christmas (actually 46 for me, since my family celebrates on the 24th). And not a single one of my gifts are even halfway finished! I either need to buckle down and get to work soon, or make some alternate gifts up instead.  But knowing me, I’ll end up not sleeping between now and the holidays until they’re finished!

~Mellie ★

Homemade Halloween Makeup

Homemade Halloween Makeup

 Hooray for Halloween, one of our favorite holidays around here.  Not that we need a holiday for costumes in this house, as I have a natural costume designer.  My son will come to me with very detailed instructions on outfits that he wants to construct, items that he wants me to crochet, and very specific, down to the tiniest details.  So it goes without saying that we go through a lot of fabric, a lot of paper, markers, and masking tape (his backup for when I’m not able to sit down and sew up what he’s dreaming of), and a huge variety of creative energy.

Halloween makeup isn’t in the stores year round, but even when it is, I try to avoid it.  My son inherited my super-sensitive skin which breaks out in unpleasant rashes when it comes in contact with certain chemicals.  Instead, we make our own Halloween makeup with just a few items: cold cream, corn starch, and food coloring.  We haven’t had any reactions with regular food coloring, but if you’re looking to avoid all artificial coloring, India Tree makes an excellent alternative made from natural vegetable colorants.  I can vouch that it works well, as this was the coloring used on my wedding cake.  But we go through so much face paint here that it’s more cost efficient for us to use the cheap stuff. 

Homemade Halloween Makeup

Homemade Halloween Makeup

 So the process is relatively simple.  Take 1 part cold cream to 2 parts cornstarch and mix together (so, 1 T cold cream to 2 T cornstarch, or 1/8 c cold cream to 1/4 c cornstarch, depending on how much you want to make).  It will take a while for it to blend well, but just keep at it.  You want the texture to be watered down enough to paint with, but thick enough so that it isn’t runny when applied.  Aim for a toothpaste like consistency.  If you find you added too much cornstarch, you can thin the mixture with water.  Be sure to add only a few drops at a time, because it’s easy to thin it out.  If you do make it too watery, add a little cornstarch back in.  it’s not an exact science on precise amounts like when you bake, so no pressure if you mess it up.  Just get it to the consistency you’re happy with.  After that, add in a few drops of the color you want. 

Homemade Halloween Makeup

 Once you stir it up, it’s ready to be applied.  And if you’re making some in advance, store it covered in the refrigerator so it doesn’t dry out.  To apply, take a paintbrush and you’re set.  This isn’t the longest lasting makeup out there, but it does the job for a few hours, and comes off easily with water.  As with all food colorants, I would keep it away from anything that could be stained, but it’s perfect for kids clothes, costumes, and Halloween fun!

Homemade Halloween Makeup

Homemade Halloween Makeup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 T cold cream
  2. 2 T corn starch
  3. food coloring
Instructions
  1. Combine cold cream and cornstarch until blended into a toothpaste-like consistency. Add food coloring and stir until evenly blended. Apply to face and have fun! Store covered to keep from drying out.
mellie blossom http://www.mellieblossom.com/
~Mellie ★

 

 

Miscellaneous Crochet

Crochet Daniel Tiger

 Here are a bunch of projects that I’ve finished lately that are in no way tied to one another at all except for the fact that they were all made for children.  I figured that was a good enough theme to fit them all together in something semi-coherent, but most of all, I just wanted to share these today because they were so much fun to make. 

Above is a Daniel the Tiger hat, made for a friend’s son for Halloween.  She asked for matching mitts, and so I made up a pair and added some little paw prints to them.  The kids loved it so much that she asked me to make one for the other boy, too.  I don’t have too many babies to crochet for at this moment, so making this up was a lot of fun. 

Crochet Chiron

Next up is Chiron, and this amigurumi was epic.  It’s incredibly detailed and seems to have so much character.  Even the expression on his face (which is more or less duplicated from the pattern) seems to be filled with personality. 

Crochet Chiron

And finally, there was a request for Sherlock Holmes.  I was so clueless when I started crocheting this that I got confused and thought I was making someone else entirely (my brain was off in Dr. Who land).  But as I crocheted this up, I thought that I might as well check out the Sherlock show on Netflix, and I ended up watching the entire series in a matter of days.  It definitely gave me a deeper appreciation for what I was crocheting; had I watched the series prior, I would have made his coat more of a darker gray.  But it went over very well and the intended recipient who received it as a birthday gift was nothing less than thrilled.  

Crochet Sherlock Holmes

Never before crocheting have I watched so many shows, and thank goodness for Netflix, because I don’t have cable or even basic tv channels to watch them anyway.  Fortunately, my computer screen does an excellent job of filling in for one, and it’s nice to be entertained while going through the process of putting something with yarn together.  I would end up just sitting there anyway while crocheting, so I do my best to multitask as much as possible.  I crochet when homeschooling my kids (when possible), when having a cup of coffee out on the patio, and even have a bunch of audiobooks on hand to listen to as well. But instead of being more productive, as soon as I finished the Sherlock series, I decided to give Walking Dead a try (since that seems to be all my friends talk about anyway)… and yes, now I’m hooked on that.  There’s a few more seasons out, so I hope to get plenty of other projects completed this week as well, including this lovely leafy band below… more to come!

Miscellaneous Crochet

 

~Mellie ★

Hot Apple Cake Recipe with Streusel Topping

  Hot Apple Cake Recipe

Finally, the pile of apples we gathered the other day when we went apple picking is starting to look more reasonable! After a busy week of apple crisp, apple bread, apple butter, and apple pancakes, we’ve made an excellent dent in the bushels we had. I had fun trying out new recipes and old, and even had enough leftover to experiment with my own baking. To answer the pleas of my children for an apple cake, I decided that would be the one that I would try out: an apple cake recipe.

Making recipes, for me, is always a hit or miss. I do love to experiment, and I’m not very good at following recipes without tweaking a few things here and there.  Sometimes this has better results than other times.  I can recall days where I’ve slaved away in the kitchen for a couple of hours, noting ingredients and cook times and carefully recording them, only to end up with a final result that is bland or sub-par. It can be disappointing, but it’s part of the process.

I have two of the keenest judges there are to help me decide how this recipe turned out. My children can be picky eaters, and have no problem telling me when something is pretty bad. So as they waited with anticipation as the stove wafted out the scent of cooking apples, I crossed my fingers that they would like it. 

Hot Apple Cake Recipe

Not only was this a success, it was a smashing success. My youngest, who doesn’t like to eat much of anything besides junk, cried out to his brother “it’s SO good!” That’s the highest compliment of all, I must say.

The cake is based off a recipe that was in my grandmother’s collection, but I changed quite a few things on it, including adding the streusel topping. I love how it ends up layered: the apple layer on the bottom, followed by the cake, and topped with the streusel. Kind of like a mixture between apple cake and apple crisp. Whatever the case, it ended up a wonderful dish for us, and I hope you’ll like it too.  It’s a perfect fall dish, and even better when topped with cream or a whipped topping.  So here you are, my Hot Apple Cake recipe (below).  Enjoy!

~Mellie ★

Hot Apple Cake Recipe

 

Hot Apple Cake Recipe with Pecan Streusel Topping
Serves 9
Whether you're working your way through a fall apple harvest or looking for a warm winter dessert, this Hot Apple Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping is the perfect touch of apple goodness.
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For the Apple Layer
  1. - 3 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples
  2. - 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. - 2 Tablespoons flour
  4. - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Cake Layer
  1. - 1 cup flour
  2. - 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. - 1/4 cup brown sugar
  4. - 1/2 cup white sugar
  5. - pinch salt
  6. - 1 can evaporated milk (or 1 cup regular milk)
  7. - 2 Tablespoons softened butter
For the Pecan Streusel Topping
  1. - 1/2 cup flour
  2. - 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. - 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  4. - 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  5. - pinch salt
  6. - pinch cinnamon
  7. - 1/4 cup softened butter
Instructions
  1. To make the apple layer, combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, the 2 T flour and the 1 t cinnamon. Pour over apples and stir to coat. Pour into a greased 8" or 9" square baking dish.
  2. For the cake layer, combine flour, baking powder, sugars, and salt. Add evaporated milk and butter and stir until combined. Spread evenly over the apple layer in the baking dish and smooth out the top.
  3. For the streusel topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, pecans, salt, and cinnamon. Add softened butter and mix until the butter is evenly distributed (it helps to use your hands to knead it in). Spread over the top of the cake layer and press into the batter slightly.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve with cream or whipped topping.
mellie blossom http://www.mellieblossom.com/