Golden Squares Shawl

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This shawl actually started as a project re-work for the shawl ministry of which I am a part.  I had the golden hued yarn and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to create, only that I wanted to do a crochet shawl using multiples of three.  WIN_20160208_23_42_16_ProThen I saw a picture of a scarf that had square openings and was inspired to incorporate something similar into a prayer shawl.

I started with a row of foundation single crochet.  Since discovering and learning this method about a year ago, I try to utilize it in all my crochet projects instead of using a beginning chain. The squares are made with triple crochet and chains with rows of half-double crochet. As I worked with the yarn and the square pattern, the design of the shawl began to emerge.  I was pleased with the results, so I decided to write up the pattern and make it available to others.

This is a great shawl to make for a shawl ministry (as I did), to create as a special gift for Mother’s Day, or even make to pamper yourself.

I hope you let me know if you decide to try this pattern.

Golden Squares Shawl by Mary Stanton

 

World Cancer Day

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Today, February 4th is World Cancer Day.  I imagine that most people have been touched by cancer in one way or another. They may have had cancer themselves, or been through this life-changing event with a loved one. Perhaps you know a neighbor, church member, or student who has had cancer.  Thankfully, with today’s advances in medicine the prognosis for cancer patients is improving. However, it all depends on catching the cancer early.

In January 2009, my father was diagnosed with late-stage throat cancer. he had ignored the signs and would not see a doctor until the cancer was quite advanced.  By mid-February we said our final goodbyes at his memorial service.  Later that same year, I too was diagnosed with cancer, fortunately my outcome was different.  I knew something was wrong, but not what and went through test after test, all with negative results until an ultra-sound finally uncovered what was wrong; I had bilateral ovarian cancer.

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With my mom, in 2010 after chemo-therapy. We are both wearing teal for ovarian cancer.

Today, I consider myself one of the lucky ones in that my cancer was discovered at stage 2, which is still an early stage.  Only 20% of all women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early state.  Yet, an early diagnosis means a world of difference and an amazing 94% 5-year survival rate.  Unfortunately, there are no tests for early detection. Instead, it is important to know the symptoms and your body.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below your stomach and between your hip bones).
  • Back pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling full quickly while eating.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often, constipation, or diarrhea.

If you experience one or a combination of these symptoms, and they persist for several weeks then you should see your doctor for an evaluation.  Being aware may save your life or the life of another woman.

For more information on ovarian cancer, please visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) or the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA).  You may also click on the link below to open a PDF file with information provided by NOCC.

http—ovarian.org-docs-NOCC14.08_PDF

It’s National Chocolate Cake Day

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A Day Honoring a Favorite Dessert!

I can never quite decide which I love more a luscious deep-dish apple pie fragrant with cinnamon, or a rich, melt-in-your-mouth slice of dark chocolate cake.  It never entered my imagination that there would be a special day for Chocolate Cake, until a good friend sent me an e-mail with a recipe for a microwave cooked Chocolate Cake in a Mug in honor of today.

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Watching my cake cook!

Of course I had to try the recipe, which is quite simple. The result is a somewhat spongy cake, with a pancake like under-taste. Not bad for a super quick cake to satisfy an craving for chocolate cake.   I am wondering how the recipe might fair if a rising agent were added, or perhaps self-rising flour were used, which I do not keep on hand as a staple.

For a microwave baked product, it is good and should be a hit with younger kids especially if they are watching through the microwave window when the cake starts to rise like a souffle!  It is puffs up quickly – almost like magic.  Make sure you use a LARGE mug; you only want the batter to fill about halfway up you cup.

My mug is now empty, as I was enjoying my cake as I was typing this review.  Hmmm, I haven’t had lunch today so maybe a second helping is in order.

Chocolate Cake in a Mug Recipe

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Mixed and Ready to Microwave!

Combine: 4 T flour, 4 T sugar, 1 T cocoa

Add to dry ingredients: 1 egg, 3 T milk, 3 T oil

Mix well. Bake 3 minutes in microwave. Cool and enjoy!

Optional Ingredients: 1 T of chocolate chips, or chopped nuts, or coconut

Let me know if you try this recipe and what changes you make!

Happy Microwave Baking!

 

 

 

 

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

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At the beach in N.C. with my mom shortly after finishing chemo

This year I celebrated 5 years of being cancer free after my diagnosis, surgery, and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Ever since my diagnosis and while going through treatment I did what I could to spread the word about ovarian cancer, its signs and symptoms. You see, while I had my annual PAP test and breast exam (oh, the joys of mammograms) I knew nothing about the early signs of ovarian cancer. In fact, I knew nothing about the disease.

Before my cancer was found I knew something was wrong, but not what.  For months, and months, and months I went to doctor after doctor and had test after test. I was checked for celiac disease, had my gall bladder tested, had blood work, I even had an abdominal ultra-sound (not pelvic), but all of the tests and exams were negative.

I was ready to give up and just live with my symptoms, but my husband pushed and pushed, so I kept going to doctors. It was only because of an abnormal PAP that my cancer was finally found by means of a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Please, please, please remember that a PAP test does NOT detect ovarian cancer.

So what are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or Abdominal Pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urgency or frequency of urination
  • Changes in bowel movements

If you have one or more of these symptoms on a persistent basis, please, please, please go see your doctor.

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I was lucky, my cancer had not spread beyond my two ovaries and one Fallopian tube and I have survived. Most women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are not so lucky; 70% of my teal sisters do NOT survive five years.

On Sunday, September 20th I will again walk in the Central Maryland Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Run/Walk in order to raise earlier awareness about this deadliest of gynecological cancer and to support more research.  Please consider lending your support to help educate others and save the life of a mother, daughter, grandmother, sister or niece.

2014 NOCC Walk Run Event

2014 NOCC Walk Run Event

Team Teal’s Team Page for the NOCC Walk/Run

In order to help raise awareness and help fund further research, I am donating 50% of all proceeds, through October 31, from my ETSY shop to NOCC. In addition, you can get free first class shipping to anywhere in the United States. Just enter the code TealPower at check-out.

Bright and Sunny Summer Crochet

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Sq 1 & 2 Circles of the Sun CAL

Circles of the Sun Squares from Week 1 & 2 (unblocked)

Bright colors and small squares are my idea of a perfect summer crochet project.  The colors lift my spirits and the squares are quick to work up so they fit well into a busy summer schedule!

The Circles of the Sun CAL [CAL = Crochet Along] fits the bill perfectly.  As a plus, I get to discover and explore new techniques with yarn.  I have discovered surface crochet which adds texture and dimension to your yarn projects and have learned a better way to crochet in the back loop – – no more loose stitches – – YEA!

Sq 3 & 4 Circles of the Sun CAL

The designer, Lilla Bjorn, used a thinner yarn and smaller hook, so my squares are a bit larger than the original design, but then that makes them uniquely mine. Since I’m working on a number of other projects, I decided to go with Lilla’s color choices instead of planning my own. The end project is to be a pillow, however with my larger squares, I ought to get two pillows made. I plan to use them to brighten up the dark brown sofa in our family room. Can’t wait to see how they will look. I still need to decide on a crochet or fabric backing. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Only four more weeks to go, and I can’t wait for each new square to be released. I have probably finished each square the same day that I started and usually on Friday when each new design is released. The design patterns may look intricate, but don’t be intimidated as they are all just combinations of single, half-double, double and triple crochet. Are you ready to get started?  You can find the patterns here or on Facebook at the OFFICIAL CCC SOCIAL GROUP.

Square for Week Five

Square for Week Five

I’d love to know if you are working on this CAL or if you decide to start!

Life Goes On – A Reflection

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This has been a difficult year for my family. A beloved uncle died followed by the death of my husband’s mother. She would have been 95 in June and loved to sing, laugh and tell stories and jokes.

My mother-in-law, or Ma as  she was called by her children and me, was a true Southern lady. Originally from New Orleans, she moved with her husband and five children to Maryland in the 1960’s. Ma was a devout Catholic and always dressed for church; no pants for this Southern lady.  She was the glue that held her family together and there was nothing that she liked better than to cook a huge meal for her loved ones. I was introduced to Creole cooking at her table where she often served shrimp stew, red beans and rice, and stuffed baked mirlitons (milla-ton). For your birthday, she would always cook your favorite dishes and have a homemade cake for dessert.  Her family and her faith were the most important things in her life.  She is well-loved by family and friend and deeply missed.

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I haven’t written a post for some time, as we have been dealing with all of the legal issues in settling an estate that arise when a family member dies. It can be tiring and draining at times, but writing about this amazing woman has brought a smile to my face.

Ma, I know you are in heaven with your Kermit. I’m sitting here with my Kermit and we both miss you and your “hello-ooos.”