A Home Cooked 4th!

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I wasn’t planning on making potato salad, but when buying grass fed beef (trust me, it tastes sooo much better) for burgers, I saw a bag of potatoes and figured why not!  It’s not hard to make and if you know your way around the kitchen, you really don’t need to refer to a written recipe.

Knowing I wanted to get an early start, so everything could be nice and chilled for later today, I started at about 7:45 and was out of the kitchen with potatoes and eggs cooked, and dishes done by 8:30.  That’s with all of my usual distractions including making and drinking coffee, and taking photographs, too.  Here’s my morning prep:

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Scrub and chop your potatoes. I leave the skins on because there are more nutrients there.  (Totally staged shot, because I’m left handed. HaHa)

 

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Put eggs in a pan of cold water with about 1t of salt & 1T of vinegar (makes for easier peeling). Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Let sit for 20 minutes off heat.

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Add chopped potatoes to cold salted water and bring to boil.

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Bring potatoes to a rolling boil; reduce heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Taste for desired doneness.

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Drain eggs; run under cold water and place in ice bath to halt cooking.

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Drain potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop further cooking.

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Wash up your dishes. I like to clean as I cook so there is not a big mess in the kitchen.

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Have a refreshing beverage, you earned it!

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I’m having cold brew iced tea.

 

Next steps for later in the day.

Potatoes and eggs are cooked and cooled! Now it’s time to gather our ingredients and make some potato salad – – –

Time to practice our knife skills – –

Peel and chop the eggs:

 

The ingredients are chopped,  so now we need some seasonings – –

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French seasoning mix, Italian dressing, mayonnaise, salt & pepper.

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Oops, almost forgot the dill.

 

Let’s mix it all together – –

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Add potatoes to large mixing bowl and season with the Italian dressing – about 2T

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Add and stir in the chopped ingredients. The eggs to the left are for Deviled Eggs.

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About 1/3 cup of mayonnaise

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Time for the herbs! Season with salt & pepper to taste.

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Mix well, place in lidded container, and refrigerate.  Correct seasoning prior to serving.

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Clean up the dishes and you’re done!

 

It took me about 35 minutes to chop, mix, season, and clean up. If I hadn’t been taking photographs during the process, it would have take less time. Added bonuses to your time spent in the kitchen – – tastes better than store bought, you can control the ingredients, the satisfaction and pleasure of making good food!

 

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Don’t forget to give your kitchen supervisor a treat.

 

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June’s Yarn Adventures

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Here are snaps of some of the crochet projects that I finished in June 2018.  I have other projects that were started and some that are in the works, but more on those later.

 

What did you have on your hook and needles last month?

Happy crafting!

Crochet Flag: Putting It All Together

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Today we will turn this pile of crochet parts – –

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Into this finished hanging – –

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Previously, in creating our Crochet Flag Hanging, we did this Flying the Flag and then we did this A Stick and Some Stripes. Now we get to combine all of of our bits and pieces into this final, finished project.  Your project won’t look exactly like mine, and that is a good thing because is is yours!!

Step One (Optional):  Have your project pieces approved by your fur baby.

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Shadow testing my work and giving her approval.

Step Two:  Lay out the pieces for assembly (Note:  the arrangement is actually face down).  The short stripes start and end with red along the edge of the blue Union field.

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The ends are not yet woven in as they are needed in the next step.

Step Three:  Working from the backside, sew your stripes onto the blue Union.  I only wove in one end, and kept the other end for this purpose.

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I worked from the edges of the Union towards the center to ensure semi-even spacing.  No measuring tools were used in this easy project.

Step Four:  To attach the long stripes to the flag, you will need a support piece (sorry, forgot to mention this earlier).  You may use a length of ribbon, or as I did, crochet a strip of foundation half-double crochet (fhdc).

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I attached with a slip stitches (ss), putting a chain between the ss for flexibility.

Step Five: After attaching the Union, continue with the stripes, beginning with white and alternating with red.

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Almost finished!

Step Six:  This is optional, but I decided to sew the first long white stripe to the Union for additional stability.

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First long white stripe attached part of the way down the Union

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Reversed, but looking good!

 

Step Seven:  Attach your completed flag to its hanger.

mod-podge.jpg What you do will vary.  You can sew your flag onto a stick or rod, use nails or clips, or as I did, some strong glue.  I chose to use Outdoor Mod Podge because there was some on-hand (no need to go and purchase any supplies – YES!!).  Make sure you are applying any adhesive to the FRONT side of your flag along the top vertical ribbon and don’t be stingy with the glue.  Your hanging stick will be on top of the flag.  Please make sure that the blue Union is to the LEFT.

Glued to Stick

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Step Eight:  If using a liquid adhesive, be sure to check dry times.  I allowed about 24 hours to be on the save side.  Turn flag to right side, Union will be on the left and attach string or other hanging device as needed.  I used twine, from a dollar store, that was left over from a prior project.

 

Step Nine:   Your flag is now ready for display.

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Ready for display!

 

Step Ten:  Take some pics and share your talents and patriotism with others!  Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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A Stick and Some Stripes

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Continuing a Patriotic Wall Hanging

Once you’ve decided on a stitch pattern for the Union (blue part of flag) you will also need to make the stripes and obtain a stick for hanging.  This is your project, so be creative and make it your own!

For my hanging stick, I took a walk outside and found a nice sized tree branch (no living trees were harmed in the making of this project).  Since the branch had been on the ground for a while, I washed and scrubbed it well then put in the lowest setting of my oven to dry and clean by heating the wood through.  My stick isn’t perfect, it has some bends and cracks and knotty parts, which makes me like it all the more.

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Carry a big stick and a bigger cup of coffee!

If you don’t care for the “rustic natural” look of a branch you could also use a dowel rod, broom handle, clothes hanger – the type with clips (or not).  Anything that will suspend the hanging will work!  I have a piece of copper tubing from another project, and I could use that (I just now remembered that I have the unused length stashed in my craft room).

Now that we have part of the display covered, it’s onto the STRIPES!!  If you weren’t good in history, the American flag has 13 stripes that represent the original 13 colonies. I decided to follow the standard U.S. flag.  Which means I will need the following:

  • Four short red stripes
  • Three short white stripes
  • Three long red stripes
  • Three long white stripes

For my hanging, I decided to use three different stitch patterns to make one of each of the standard stripes as noted above.

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A fourth pattern will be needed for the additional short red stripe, or repeat another pattern.  My long stripes are roughly twice as long as the short, but I did not measure the stripes or count rows.  If they come out a little uneven, that will just add to the charm of the project.

This project is representational art so go with what works for you.  If you really need everything to be exact, then measure and count away.  Want more or less stripes, not a problem – – this is your project (which is why I’m not writing a pattern just giving a general project outline).

I’m still working on my stripes, but this is what I have finished so far – –

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Up next: Assembly and Display

Happy Crafting!

Flying the Flag

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Making a Wall Hanging for the 4th of July!

This is not my original idea, but I was inspired by a photo I saw on Hillary’s Hook Crochet Along Group, a sister page to Hillary’s Hook on Facebook.

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Flag Hanging from Hillary’s Hook

However, Hillary was also inspired by another image from Meg Made With Love.  Click photo for Meg’s project information.

Bohemian American Flag

Flag Hanging from Meg Made With Love

Instead of just copying what someone else created, I decided to use their idea as an  inspiration for my own hanging.  My project is currently in the works, and began with a little bit of research on the American Flag and reviewing stitch patterns to utilize.

planning[1]The Union, that’s the blue field with 50 stars, is part one of my version and is stitched with the Arcade Shell Stitch.  This stitch can be found on page 58 of Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia by Robyn Chachula.

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I wanted to have 50 “stars” in my version, so following pattern instructions I chained 38.  While creating the fabric, I realized that I goofed because the first complete row of “stars” was one less than I anticipated.  To get 50 “stars” in this pattern, I should have chained 44.  My prototype flag hanging will have a “star” missing.  Opps!

 

 

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So, that’s the first part.  Now to begin the stripes . . .

Until later,

Happy Crafting

My Sweet Tooth

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Sometimes I try to ignore my cravings for something sweet, especially if it is baked and chocolate flavored!  Over the weekend my cravings for got the better of me so I pulled out my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook and it fell open to page 67.  I’ve never made this recipe before, so maybe it was meant to be, or maybe it was the “witch.”  Ha!Ha!

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Page 66 & 67 of Fat Witch Brownies cookbook

The “Intense Chocolate Brownies” were as the name implies, intense with the flavor of chocolate!  Of course they can’t be bad for you because the recipe uses unsalted butter, unbleached flour (please don’t buy bleached flour – it really is not good for you), 70%  cacao bittersweet chocolate, just the right amount of sugar.  Since these brownies are homemade they contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients, just lots of love.

Now, I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate on hand, but I did have some organic cocoa (purchased from Thrive Market) so with a little on-line research on making substitutions, I was ready to bake!  It really doesn’t take long to make brownies from scratch, and the recipes from Fat Witch are pretty straight forward and uncomplicated (unlike others I have tried).  Best of all I didn’t have to use my mixer, so clean-up was easier!

Even though I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – using cocoa powder and half whole wheat and half unbleached flour – the end result was delicious!  The brownies were moist, with a rich chocolate flavor and just slightly crumbly.  Since there are only two humans in my household, and I’m the big brownie eater, I am still enjoying these treats.  Being the caring parent of two cats, I don’t let them eat chocolate even when they start begging for a taste!

If you have any leftovers after making some, just make sure to store in an air tight container.

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Finished product – Cooling and waiting to be devoured!

I’ve never been disappointed with any of the recipes that I’ve made from my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook.  As a tea lover, I even tried the Earl Grey Brownies, which were delightfully different.

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Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

Hope you will try your hand at making homemade treats.  If you like chocolate, Fat Witch has some free recipes available on their website, or if you live in New York City, you can stop by the shop and buy some freshly made goodies.

Happy baking & eating 🙂

The Right Tools

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Any person who works with their hands knows that proper tools are essential.  Whether you are an artist, carpenter, mechanic, crafter, chef, surgeon – this list could go on forever – using tools that are comfortable for you and that fit the job are essential.

When I first started to crochet, I purchased inexpensive plastic hooks. These worked okay, although I did manage to break a few.  Hubby, being ever so helpful and economic attempted to mend these, needless to so that did not work out very well.  On to slightly more expensive aluminum hooks.

The metal hooks worked out well, although my hand would get tired after crocheting for an extended period of time.  It was while using these aluminum hooks that I discovered my preference for a tapered hook.  Below is an image from Planet June, that illustrates the differences between an in-line hook, such as Bates, and a tapered style.

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After trying plastic and metal, I gave wood and bamboo hooks a try. I found these hooks beautiful and they felt very comfortable in my hand.  A downside to these hooks is that not all fibers were compatible with this hook material.  Some yarns would “hang-up” on the hook, thus interrupting the rhythm of stitching.  Another negative was that my cats loved to chew on them!  A chewed hook can really cause your yarn to snag.  Ha-ha!

I continued to explore other options and read comments from other hookers about the merits of different hook brands.  Two brands that frequently popped up in the discussions were the Addi Swing and Clover Amour.  These are just two styles that have a soft handle.

 

While the Addi Swing is beautiful and ergonomically designed, it was a bit pricey and outside of my budget.  So, ventured into my local craft shop and I purchased two Clover Amour hooks in the sizes H & I.

What a difference the soft handles made!  I found that I could crochet all day long – well almost.  Another plus for me was that the Amour hook had a the tapered head which I favored.  After a few weeks, and of course researching the best price, I took the plunge and purchased a set of the Amour hooks.

However, my hook adventure does not end here.  One set of hooks is never enough for any serious hooker who tends to keep hooks used with works in progress (WIPs).  For me that meant I was always searching for the hook I needed to start a new (short term) project while working on longer projects.  And of course since I love participating in Crochet Alongs (CALs) I always have multiple extended projects in the works.  One of the most recent being the Cosmic CAL by the amazing designer Helen Shrimpton of Crystal and Crochet. But that is another post!

Cosmic CAL

Cosmic CAL – Parts 1 – 4

Back to crochet hooks.  It was my need for a size 7 or 4.5mm hook that led to my initial discovery of Athena’s Elements.  This is not a standard U.S. size and is not always easy to find in a local shop.  Thank goodness for on-line shopping. 🙂  Since I need multiple hooks in the same sizes, I am always looking for a good product at a fair price, and I found what I needed at a popular on-line shopping resource.

Recently, I was again getting frustrated, because the hooks I needed for a project were not available.  I have hook markers, but find that there can be a slight variation in hooks between different manufacturers, so I prefer to keep my hook with the project.  Which means that I need – – you got it – – multiple hooks.  Making the decision that I was going to purchase another set of hooks, the research commenced.  I already had an idea of what I wanted, but wanted to make sure I was getting the best price.

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The hook set offered by Athena’s Elements fit my needs perfectly.  The set had 12 hooks in US sizes B – L ( 2.25mm – 8.00mm), the head was tapered, had a long shaft and a soft handle.  As a plus, you never have to guess about the size of the hook because they are marked with the U.S. alpha and numeric size, plus the metric size.  What more could this or any crocheter want!?!  I placed my order on Amazon on May 29, 2018 and they package was delivered this morning, May 31, 2018.  My happiness with these hooks prompted this rather lengthy post!  Best of all, these hooks are currently on sale at Amazon.

‘Til next time, happy crafting – –