Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year Long Crochet a Long and Knit a Long

Heylo all! In case you've missed it, roughly 6 months ago I started learning how to crochet and knit. I am loving it. If I'd known I could craft while sitting on my butt watching Big Bang Theory, I'd have never learned to sew! (But then, I probably wouldn't have ever learned how to make fabric buttons, so I'm glad I did!)

But I digress, as usual....

Anyhoo, I participated in a fun Crochet a Long (CAL) where I ended up with a beautiful sunburst granny square afghan. I truly enjoyed it and now it's time to take my turn hosting!!

You need to be on ravelry to truly participate, so hop on over and join! It's free and a great place for patterns and showing off your work!

It will be a MONTHLY project that goes on ALL YEAR. Each month we will do a new dishcloth/towel/washcloth. Crochet AND knit patterns will be available, so you can do one, some, all or none!! If you do each month, in the end you'll have 12 handmade washcloths!!

Patterns will be posted and all I ask is you share your progress, pics and lessons learned in the Ravelry group!

You can find the group here:
Mama's Monthly Dishcloth KAL and CAL

The January project is listed so hop to it!! :)


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Year Without Wal-Mart

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not affiliated with Wal-Mart or any of it's trademarks, names, places, employees, or stores. I have NOTHING against Wal-Mart and have been a faithful shopper there as long as I've had money to spend! This is merely a social experiment and blog project. Please don't sue me.


I have spent a LOT of money in Wal-Mart (WM) over the years. The lure of the place is amazing. Everything you need in one, giant building. But, can I go one year without shopping in Wal-Mart? 

First off, this will be very difficult because I take my disabled father grocery shopping once every 2 weeks or so, and normally we go to WM. However...that doesn't mean *I* need to shop that day. I can merely be a chauffeur and cart pusher.

Second, I am starting this challenge not because I have some bone to pick with WM as a big, giant conglomerate or big business. I actually am a fan of big business. Especially a big business started by one little man with a dream. Has the final product changed from his original vision? Sure. But that's to be expected as time goes on and he is no longer around to run it. But this project has nothing to do with politics, fighting for anything or against anything. I do not care to Occupy Wall Street or Un-Occupy Wall Street. I run my own handmade business, so I understand the need, desire, drive to push products and sell an item. I'm down with that. Me and Sam Walton are A-Ok.

Third, some people that I care for very much work or have worked for Wal-Mart. This project has nothing to do with those people and they should know I love them and they can still bring me half price candy anytime... :)

I am starting this challenge because, A) my husband thinks I spend too much money at WM. B) I WOULD rather buy local or handmade. C) I just want to see if I CAN.

So here's a little background of my family and hometown situation and rules I'll set forth for myself:

We are a family of four, two adults and two kids, and one fat dog. We live in a fairly large town on the Northshore of New Orleans, LA and have plenty of access to local and chain grocery stores. I am an avid Amazon shopper (see, told you, no issues with big business.) Three of the four of us are Gluten Free.

I can do this.

1.) I am allowed to set FOOT in WM. As I said, I need to take my father grocery shopping, and he may need to go to WM.

2.) If I must shop in WM, I must account for it here and confess WHY I had to. (and could I really have avoided it?).

3.) I must keep receipts of all money spent, so we can attempt to compare to previous year's Wal-Mart purchases. Not necessarily, to share all my financial business with you all (although, I do heart you all, you don't need to know EVERYTHING!) But for myself so I can see if I notice a significant difference in our budget. My husband does the bills so really he will be the one to notice this.

4.) This will all tie in my goal of "A Handmade Year," which involves, making what I can make, buying handmade what I cannot make, and buying local what cannot be handmade. Also, doing without if it cannot fit any of those descriptions.

5.) I still get to go to Target, because, well, I love my Target and you can't make me not go. Baby steps, baby steps.

Think I can do it? Want to join the challenge with me? Think I'll lose money? Save money?
I admit...I'm scared. I'll probably make one last maniacal Wal-Mart run on December 31st, just to do it...

I don't suspect I will miss it terribly. I think once I get used to changing my shopping ways, it won't be that bad.

It is on like Donkey Kong.

I'm on a mission...

The challenge starts January 1st.


Pin It

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Crochet Kindle Cover--Free Tutorial

Hey all! This is my FIRST EVER crochet pattern! So, please, be kind! And PLEASE, PLEASE feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, corrections, etc! I will be doing this again with a different yarn to make sure it doesn't make a tremendous difference. Keep in mind, I've only been hooking since the summer.. :)

Basically the stitch is from Coats and Clark pattern found HERE. If you can do this stitch, you can alter this anyway you need for your E-Reader, Tablet, etc.

I chose to line this with some scrap felt because even though it was a gift for a friend who rarely takes her Kindle away from home, this stitch does leave little 'holes' in it, and I thought the felt would be an extra touch of protection. The stitch itself is quite fluffy so that helps a lot. Again, the lining is optional.

This is intended for the original keyboard style Kindle, I do not know the dimensions of the other kindles, nooks, etc. But you can easily adjust the pattern for your item.

This pattern is free, and please feel free to share (and correct if it's wrong.) And by golly if you can make some money selling these bad boys are a derivative there of, go for it. A link back would be nice yarn karma for you though :)

Let's Get Hookin!!

Yarn: Vanna's Choice from Lion Brand. Any Worsted Weight should do fine.
Hook: US Size H
Gauge: I admit, I never look at, read, or care about gauge. I'm crazy like that. My Kindle was my gauge. According to the original pattern I based this on:
GAUGE: In pattern, 5 puff sts = 5”; 9 rows = 4”. CHECK YOUR
GAUGE. Use any size hook to obtain the gauge.

*Special Stitch Notes:
Puff Stitch: Puff: Work (sc, 2 dc) in same st.

Chain 17. (this is based on MY original Kindle. If you have a larger or smaller device, you should do a few rows and hold it up to your device to check gauge.)

ROW ONE: 2dc in the 2nd ch from hook.
*skip next 2 ch, puff stitch in next ch;* repeat from *across to the last 3 ch, sk 2 ch, sc in last ch, turn.

ROW TWO: ch 1, 2 dc in 1st st. *skip 2 dc, puff st in next sc.* Repeat from * across, skip last 2 dc, sc in turning ch, turn.

Repeat row two until you reach Row 36 OR your desired height.

You are making one solid piece of 'fabric' that you will fold up and 'around' the kindle, allowing for a flap. For my Kindle, yarn, hook, and crochet style, I did a total of 36 ROWS. Please check this against your kindle, you may need to add or take away a few rows.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

At this point you can decide if you want your side seams showing, or on the inside. I wanted mine in the inside.

Lay your piece flat down and make a 'pocket' for the Kindle by folding the bottom up to about Row 14 or 15. You can adjust this for your preference, you are merely deciding how far down you want your flap to go. By "folding" on Row 15 or so, that leaves you about 6 rows as your "flap".

SS or SC the side to close your pocket on one side, about 30 rows. I did the SC. Fasten off and weave in.
Repeat on the other side to make a pocket for your kindle to slide into. (do not fasten off yet)

I wanted my SC seams to be on the inside, so I then turned it all rightside out. (this stitch looks pretty from both sides).

Since you didn't fasten off, you can now SC along the edge of the flap (OPTIONAL). If not, you can fasten off and weave in here.


I chose to insert a felt lining because this was for a friend, and this puff stitch is beautiful, but does leave little gaps. Should she spill something on the kindle, I wanted that little extra protection. I used felt because A) it was easily available in my home B) it doesn't fray much C) I could hand sew it all and didn't have to drag myself off the sofa.

Cut a piece of felt or similar fabric to fit inside your new crochet cover.

I folded mine and hand sewed a blanket stitch along the long side and bottom. Use any hand stitch you feel comfortable with.

Insert the felt lining directly into your crochet cover. Using a blanket stitch or similar hand stitch, hand sew the lining in the crochet cover. You can sew all the way down the sides and bottom, I did not, I only sewed the 'top' portion around the flap.

Secure the ends of your thread, and you're almost done!

Decide the placement of your button the OUTSIDE of the cover. Thanks to the stretchiness of this yarn and the looseness of this stitch, you have buttonholes inherently in your yarn! Find a good place for the button and hand sew it on! (Tip, when hand sewing shankless buttons, place a pin in between the two holes as you sew the button on. Remove the pin when you're finished sewing the button and you now have a little more 'room' for the button to move, without making it unsecure.)

Weave in any yarn, insert your kindle and go!! :)


PLEASE feel free to leave any corrections, comments, oopsys, "you're totally wrong" comments!! If I did something wrong in the pattern, I really do want to fix it. Like I said above, it is based solely on the scarf pattern by Coats and Clark. I merely adjusted it to fit a kindle. This is a beautiful stitch pattern and can be used in a variety of ways!

Find me on Ravelry!

Happy Hooking!! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Weekend Giveaway!!!

Well gang, it's that time! Time for a giveaway!! :)

This one is great for anyone expecting or who has a baby gift they need to get!!! :) This super soft, sweet blanket is made from lime green minky (which sounds hideous, but it's very pretty) and a designer Par Avion cotton fabric. All machine sewn by yours truly and ready to go!!

Crib sized baby blanket perfect for snuggling at night yet it's small enough to take in the car.
I love the colors of this one!!

How to Win?
You know me, I'm busy so I don't like a lot of rules about contests. So just leave me a comment with A WAY TO CONTACT YOU (blog, facebook, twitter, etsy shop, etc) and answer this question:
What's your favorite type of cookie?

That's it!!!

Contest will end, oh in a week or so!! :) (I'm such a tough blog owner, aren't I?)


What I Made...

This week I finished up a pillow cover I'd been working on. It was an experiment to see if I could wing the basic stitch and make my own pattern. Turns out I could :)

The details of the makings of it are on Ravelry if you are interested. Basically its rows of single crochet and a double crochet circle for the ends :)

I made it to match my fun new sock monkey sheets!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday....

I've been majorly slacking in the menu making! One dish I've made a few times is Cheesy Chicken Lasagna...found of course off Pinterest.
Here is the recipe from Real Mom Kitchen.

Image from Real Mom Kitchen

I've made it for guests, our family and at a dinner party. It's super easy to make. We are Gluten Free so to make it Gluten Free, I used Deboles or Tinkyada rice lasagna noodles. If you'd made these before, you know they can fall apart during cooking so be gentle when boiling gluten free noodles. 

Serve with a yummy salad or greens. I've not tried to freeze it because so far there hasn't been enough left over to freeze! 


Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Monday!

No deals of the week this week! I am worn out from getting orders out the door!! :) My monkeys are off of school until January 3rd so I'll have my hands full!! Chances are, most of the coupon codes I've previously posted will still work :) Wink!

I hope you've found some great deals while doing your holiday shopping! I grabbed a few things I wanted and needed for pretty cheap and I don't even celebrate Christmas!!

Happy shopping and I do hope you enjoy your holiday or break!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Deal of the Week

Hey all! No new deals this week, still having the sales over at Mama's Little Monkeys and MicroMops on Artfire! I've got a lot to get done this week before my monkeys are out for the break!! ~~

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tasty Tuesday....

Tasty Tuesday turned into Terrible Tuesday this week.
Pinterest, you let me down this time.
I tried the Breakfast Crock Pot Casserole

yeah, sorry folks, perhaps it's just our taste buds, or perhaps because I did not have the required dill spice, but this was bleh. Def not worth making again. No one really liked it, even the dog didn't wolf it down as usual. No offense to the recipe creator, perhaps our palates are very different or I did something horribly wrong.

Either way...tasty fail this week! Better luck next time!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Deal of The Week

Check out my Artfire shops....big time sales are going on!! Take note...if you had your eye on something, now's the time to get it, I'm going to be closing the doors on some of my Artfire shops for the new year to focus on just a few shops.

20% off at MicroMops through the end of the year!!! Many of these items WILL NOT BE BACK after the new year!

20% off at Mama's Little Monkeys as well! Many of these items WILL NOT BE BACK either after the near year, so if you had your eyes on something, you may want to snatch it up now!

No need to enter coupon codes, the 20% is already taken off!! Happy handmade shopping!!!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Deal of the Week

It's Cyber Monday! It was the biggest shopping weekend of the year this past weekend. I hope you all found good deals without getting maced.

Now you can sit and relax in your jammies! Shop online in peace!
Use the code "blackfriday2011" for FREE WORLDWIDE shipping at Badge Reels. I have badge reels great for ID holders, scissors fobs, keychains, and more! They're not just for scrubs!
I have a TON of reels available and many more coming over the next month!

Also, over at MicroMops, the ENTIRE shop is 20% off!! Let's get clean for the holidays! Good through Christmas!

Reusable Swiffer Pads, Cloth Wipes, Beau Beau Bags, Clothespin Magnets, Laundry helpers and more!

This is a big sale!! Also, use the code "Freeship" in MicroMops for Free US Shipping!! Can be combined with sale!

So brew your coffee, cuddle in your jammies and shop away! :)
Thank you for supporting Handmade!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I Made...

Fall Placemats turned pillows! Yet another, "Inspired by Pinterest, Made by Me" item. Grab the leaf placemats from Walmart from Better Homes and Garden. Open up the seam, stuff with fiberfill, sew up the hole and viola...pillows!!

They are kid approved....

Another fun and easy fall decor idea is pinecones and faux pumpkins (also from Better Homes and Gardens available at Evil Empire Walmart.) inside a cheapy glass jar. Naturally it sits atop my crochet granny circle :)

I crocheted another granny circle to sit under my "Give Thanks" Luminary.

So I've got a few more items to put out for tomorrow and we're ready to Turkey Day away! :)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!! May you find it filled with friends, family, food, football and fun! Give your thanks to God for the awesome things in your life and enjoy the day!!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And the Winner is......

My lovely plurk buddy Debbi!! :) You are lucky number 7. Well, actually you are the second lucky winner because the first time, picked, it was MY comment!! (Libby was sleeping so I let the computer pick...)

LOL :) So congrats and drop me a line via plurk, facebook or good ol' fashioned email about your color choices, etc!! :)

Yeah for you! Please check out Debbi's gorgeous work at CharmsNThings! 

Thanks to all who entered, I like a lot of the same fall/winter things you all do! :) Now for it to GET cold and STAY cold here!

Wordless Wednesday

©Amy Dutsch 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Thanksgiving Ideas!

It's almost turkey day!!! Can you feel it? Can you SMELL IT!? I'm so ready! My turkey is thawing in the fridge, I purchased my gluten free pie crust, I'm ready to start a-cooking!
I'll share a few of my Gluten Free alterations to our Thanksgiving dinner.

Really only my father-in-law and I really like pie, so I don't bother making a crust. I purchased a GF crust from Whole Foods (their brand). Use your canned pumpkin as directed to make your pie.

I found a recipe once upon a time for a dressing made in a baking dish in the oven. Again, trusty 'ol Whole Foods helps, I buy their brand of GF Stuffing Cubes....viola...use in whatever stuffing recipe you have.

Everything else on Thanksgiving is generally Gluten Free. I do make crescent rolls for the rest of the family, but other than that, most turkey day fare, is easily modified to GF....turkey, cranberry, veggies, etc. All, easily made GF.

So, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and I'll see you, full and fat on Friday! :)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Deal of the Week

It's Thanksgiving Week!!! :) That means it's getting into the rush of shopping season! Stay home this week, in your jammies and shop in peace with me!! :)

Use the code "blog20" for 20% off every item at Mama's Little Monkeys! :) When you shop handmade, you are making a difference to a small business owner and helping a real family--MINE!

Here's a little of what I've made with my two own hands!
Hair accessories,
Business Card?Credit Card Wallets

Baby Leg Warmers (profits donated to a handmade friend of mine who has two children with a rare cancer.)

Teacher Gifts! (Clothespin Magnets)
Mario Bros. Hats for fans big and little!

Gifts for your little princess....

Even something for your inner nerd...

If I don't make it, I bet I can find someone who DOES!! :)

Please stop by and feel free to message me via the Artfire shop with any questions!

Don't forget, coupon code "blog20" AT CHECKOUT! for 20% off all order!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I Made.....

I've been obsessed with the crochet and knitting as of late. It's going far faster, skill wise, than my sewing ever did. I'm still such a newbie, but I love it!

I've been busy making scarves for gifts (hope none of the recipients read this...if so, well, here ya go! LOL) for my boys teachers. I really like scarves. Simple, repetitive, rows. I do like hooking in the round (hee hee), but that requires a little more concentration than scarves. I can do a scarf and watch tv...awesomeness.

I also put together this little pillow for my newly acquired rocking chair :)

Have you created anything lately? Are you making handmade gifts this year?? Feel free to share!~~

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Snickers Salad

Yeah, I know. Snickers Salad. Ok, so it's not a SALAD, but, it is freaking fantabulous.

Of course it was found on Pinterest and originally from this super cute blog. Anyways, it makes me feel better to call is salad because "Snickers Apple Cool Whip Smush" doesn't have the same ring to it, know what I mean?

Personally, I think it's heaven in a bowl.
And easier than pie to make.

*Tart, Juicy Apple (I used one) Chopped and diced. Leave the skin counteracts the unhealthiness of the snickers.

*Snickers. You can use one bar, or you can go in your huge stash of discounted Halloween candy as I did and use the mini's. I also snuck in a few Snickers Peanut Butter Squared, because really, peanut butter can only make it better. Stick 'em in the fridge, makes it easier to cut and stir.

*Thawed container of cool whip.

Chop your apple, chop your snickers. Take gratutious food photography shots. Stir in cool whip. Slap in a retro pyrex container and eat until you are physically ill or a button pops off your pants, whatever happens first. If any leftovers survive, stick in fridge.



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