Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Knooking In My Nook

I love a challenge. I do. I'm mostly self-taught in every kind of craft I do except for machine sewing. For that,  I tapped into the great talents of my bestie, Martha. She is a long-suffering soul. I like to think I'm helping her further develop her testimony through trial. lol.


My FAVORITE craft I do is yarn work- knitting and crocheting. They are wonderfully easy and keep my hands busy while I'm vegging out on the couch taking in educational programming. The yarn also keeps me from stuffing my face because I don't want to get crumbs and bright orange Cheeto crustiness all over it. It's genius. 

So then I saw the Knook and knew I had to try it. It's the best of both worlds! It takes all the things that are so great about crocheting (a single hook rather than two needles to wrangle, simple stitches, being able to easily work in the round) and combines them with the things I love about knitting (tightly woven fabric, only two stitches to master rather than several different ones, TONS of variety in patterns). It's fantastic. 

Because I can't seem to do ANYTHING without announcing it everyone I know on Facebook, it made my status updates about 95 times in the last week or so. That's an approximation. So I got a couple of questions about it, which reminded me that not everyone follows the Leisure Arts blog, which means that they were unaware, for the most part, of the publicity bomb that has been detonating on there since the Knook was released for sale. 

You can buy the Knook at Wal*Mart (usually. I was super ticked because that's where I got MINE and then I went back to get one for a friend for a gift -shhhh...-and they were out and the staff had no idea what I was asking them for. I mean, ideally, the people who work in the crafting department of a store should have SOME idea of what the stock is that they're in charge of. Ideally.) and online at the Leisure Arts website. For $9.95, you get three bamboo crochet hooks (which, if you decided Knooking isn't for you, is a great deal just for the hooks which can use to regular crochet with), the strings you use while Knooking, and a great how-to guide with four awesome beginner patterns.

This is what it looks like:

On the Leisure Arts website they are so excited about the Knook that they have produced some fanTAStic videos for us learning to do this to teach us- and they're great. 

Here's the link: How to Knook 

It's going to be awesome and you're going to love it. 

As proof, here's my Top Ten List of reasons why:

10. It's totally new and innovative and you can tell your kids that you were alive before Knooking became the hit sensation that's sweeping the nation. They'll be awed.
9. It's super fun and your hubby will be super impressed at your mad skills. You don't even have to tell him about the helper videos. They'll be our little secret.
8. It makes a great stocking stuffer for the yarn crafter in your life!
7. It's a great, non-intimidating way to jump into the yarn crafting arena yourself! No needles to juggle, no crazy stitches to master, easy patterns to, EVERYONE is learning to do this, so there's no nagging feeling of inferiority because NO ONE really knows what they're doing. Definite bonus.
6. It's SUPER portable, so you can take it with you to doctor's appointments, waiting in the carpool line after school, family parties (holiday parties! I can hear the "ooohs" from impressed and envious family members now!), etc. Nice!
5. It's a great way to snuggle up with your honey while watching holiday movies while the snow floats softly by outside your windows. Very "It's a Wonderful Life"! Don't you feel domestic?
4. Even if you don't like Knooking (*gasp!*), you get three great-quality bamboo hooks for a super-low price!
3. Leisure Arts is constantly releasing new patterns specifically written FOR the Knook on their website! They have some really great stuff available on there!
2. Winter is coming, which in Michigan means LOTS and LOTS of indoor time. Lots. This means you will need a hobby to avoid going nuts. It's between this and getting roped into coming over and painting all the rooms in our new house. Your choice.
1. It makes knitting in the round SO EASY. If you crochet, you know how wonderfully easy it is to whip up the cutest little beanie-hats in no time flat! But...crocheting can lead to kind of hole-y fabric. That's why I love knitting hats. But that takes forever and often requires double pointed needs. Not my fave. Enter the Knook! You can KNIT in the ROUND with NO cables and NO dpns! LOVE LOVE LOVE.


Grab yourself one now! Or add it to your Dear Santa letter! It's not too late! The Elves can easily grab one for you before the season is out. 

Coincidentally, Leisure Arts is hosting a FABU giveaway right now that you MUST enter if you're at ALL interested in this!

Go HERE to enter! Good luck!
(just not TOO much luck because I wanna win TOO! lol)

Oh, and this was in no way associated with or requested by Leisure Arts. Just my own ramblings.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What I Made for Thanksgiving

We share Thanksgiving duties in our family. Daddy makes the turkey and gravy, Allison (my fabu sister) makes rolls, a side of choice, and the most amazing pies ever to be guiltily jotted in my calorie journal. This year, Apple, Peanut Butter (with an oreo crust!), and Pumpkin Cream made her list. Just saying those pie names makes my mouth when I watch "Waitress" and she describes all the amazing pies she makes. Mmmm...Bad Baby Pie...delish. My sister's pies are amazing. They are legendary. Legen. Dary.

Hubs and I are responsible for sides and the appetizer his grandma used to make all the time called Crabbies. When hubs wakes up from his turkey coma, I will pump him for that recipe and share it with you all, because they are wonderful. Warm, salty and garlic-y, cheesey, crabby...yum. There are NEVER leftovers and you can make them as far in advance as you want because they freeze beautifully before they're baked. And they're eeeeeeeasy. Easy.

For now, I will share what I made:

Baked Cranberry Sauce
I know, I KNOW. Baked. It blew my mind, too. I'm used to standing over a hot stove waiting for cranberries to stubbornly, slowly, reduce down to sticky, gummy jelly stuff. Good but...not my fave. Sorry to cranberry lovers out there. I just found them to be SO SOUR. And they dried my mouth out. Then this year, I thought, "NO! There MUST be a better way!" and so I did what any Smarty-Smart girl chock full of kitchen savvy would do- I Googled it.

And I found THIS recipe and decided to give it a whirl. And it was marvelous. Thumbs up all around the table, except from my 9 year old stepson, but he doesn't like cranberry anything so I'm taking that as a win, since they tasted cranberry-y enough to make him hate them. NAILED IT. They are orangey, savory, nutty, sweet-and-soury goodness. In a dish. And no standing over a hot stove when you COULD be fluttering between loved ones sharing delicious anecdotes and charming conversation. At least, that's how I remember it...

We also made what are becoming our signature sweet potatoes, a recipe which I found due to similar "I'm not such a fan of this, but it's Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving is all about eating things you would never actually put on your table at any other time of year without your friends, family, and children looking at you like you'd lost your mind" circumstances. So. Sweet potatoes became my pet project. And I DID IT. My sweet potatoes are, I must say, fantastic. And I don't like sweet potatoes.


Here is MY recipe (also from Taste of Home):

  • 6 cups hot mashed sweet potatoes (prepared without milk and butter)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Adorable tiny marshmallows

    • In a large bowl, beat the sweet potatoes, milk, butter, brown sugar, egg, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice, salt and nutmeg until smooth.
    • Transfer to a greased shallow 2-1/2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Top with marshmallows. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until marshmallows just begin to puff and brown. Yield: 10-12 servings.
So. Those are my Thanksgiving Game Changers. They are wonderful. My husband also made green bean casserole which apparently is one of those things that everyone on the planet but me loves. I just can't do it. I think it's the texture...blech. Not my fave. I'm sure that to less freakish palates it's delicious.

As a sidenote, I also wore FLIRT! by Kohl's lipstick in Honey Kiss, which is a staple in my makeup bag and lovely for all seasons. HIGHLY recommend. It's a lovely nude color that doesn't wash you out and actually picks up the pigment in your lip, so you look less corpsey than most nude lippys tend to make you. Also, the formulation (HIGH WATTAGE Intense and Creamy Lip Color) isn't thick and sticky like lipsticks can be so you don't feel like BP just visited your mouth and had an accident. Love. You can't get it online, only in the store, but this is what the tube (NOT the color) looks like:

On top of that, I wore Bonne Bell Lip Lites (Don't judge! It is lovely AND delicious. In fact, I have a whole makeup post coming solely about my favorite cheap makeup. Watch for it.) in Cappucino. Love. This has been a rock star in my makeup wardrobe since high school and it hasn't failed me yet. In real life, it's a pale nudey beige color (sounds gross from that...but it's pretty! Promise!) with a TINY bit of shimmer in it. Pretty. And tasty. My favorites.


Oh, and I also wore heels. Always, always heels. *smile*
On a sad note (for my backside), my gym will not reopen after the holiday until MONDAY, which means that I'm going to be HURTING by Tuesday. Yikes. Here's to hoping I can resist holiday cookies, Thanksgiving leftovers, and Christmas-movie-snacking until then. This could get ugly...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Life, New House, New Blog

We are starting over. I'm told this is a daunting task, although at the moment it just feels like another transition. Maybe it's because we're still relatively young, or maybe it's because my life has been a series of changes of scenery and lifestyle, but whatever it is- this doesn't seem so difficult. I'm used to moving around a lot, to having my life change in a few seconds and sentences, to waking up in a brand new place with a brand new life. My faith has remained strong, my friends and family are amazing, and my husband and I have drawn closer together rather than falling apart. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "so it goes."

I love our house. I love living in the country with the quiet and the "scope for imagination" that there is out here. Ask me again how I feel about that in January when the snow is flying and the roads haven't been plowed in days, but for now- I love it. I'm choosing to overlook things like the cats killing mice in my living room (who knew my sweet kitties were so blood thirsty?) and the fact that it's totally normal for there to be horse poop in the middle of the road (...) and focusing instead on the positive- My cats have a new hobby other than sleeping all day! My neighbors have horses! How cool is that?!

Plus...this is the first time since I left home for college that I have felt like I have a home. Something that constant, so I feel less like a hobo. I feel like I have roots again, like I have a space that really and truly is mine. It's a heady feeling. A feeling that leads to picking out ridiculous numbers of paint samples so that the paint department guy glares at me, sure that I'm about to turn my fistful of precious (free!) paint chips into craft projects. Which I still might. Thank you, Pinterest. I have a vision for how this house will look and how it will be when we're done with it (although, being that it's me- I'm never really "done" but shhhh, don't tell my husband!). How it will be to someday have a yard full of little ones running around, driving me crazy and leading me to say non-sensical, parenty things like, "Go ahead and PLAY with the lawn mower then! But when you cut both your feet off, DON'T COME RUNNING TO ME!!!" The way the rooms will look when they're all covered in beautiful semi-gloss paint in gorgeous colors to match my gorgeous wall art and couches, all of which has been thrifted (shhhh, don't tell my...oh, who am I kidding? I'm a bargain whore, so I tell EVERYONE I MEET how little something cost me at the Salvation Army and isn't it CUTE?!).

So stay tuned. Watch us grow among the trees that make up my backyard (we live IN the them), and see what I come up with. Watch me change and plan and kludge things together and...and learn to blend in with the country in a stand-outy, LL Bean Christmas Catalog kind of way.