Beautifying the Medicine Cabinet

I stayed up too late last night and I can never sleep past 9:30 a.m. This gives me lots of time to myself before my husband -- who could sleep standing up if he had to -- stumbles out of bed at around noon. So today I made up my mind to organize my medicine cabinet.

Yes, I'm aware of the lameness of this decision. But it wasn't so lame, trust me!

I took out all the little cartons of Alka-Seltzer and Day Quil and transformed them into bright, flowery containers fit for a magazine medicine cabinet.

Using Mexican oilcloth, scissors, scotch tape, paper, pen and glue I spent my afternoon turning something that people rarely see (unless they are poking around) into what is nearly unattainable -- an organized space.

Useless garbage? I think not!

Halloween Garland

My friend Rosey and I crafted out today. It was a beautiful not-quite-winter day. The afternoon sun dappled the kitchen table as we cut and pasted.

Rosey made a simple vertical garland with orange, black and tan construction paper. She traced around a tin can and cut out about 64 circles. She cut lengths of string and glued the string in between two circles and spaced them about two inches apart from one another.

Pretty spooky!


Crocheted Ugly Bunny

I love Ugly Dolls. They crack me up. Also, they are cuddly.

In my quest for easy crochet patterns I came across this brilliant pin cushion pattern on Craftster.org:


This nutty bunny resembles Ugly Dolls and it looked relatively simple to create, so I got going. It only took a few hours to make and since I used a larger hook -- J size -- it turned out sort of stuffed animal sized. I opted for button eyes cause I thought he looked crazier that way.

Crocheted Baby Booties

In the past I've not admired crocheted objects. They looked icky to me. But during the past couple of years crochet has grown on me. It's easier and more gratifying than knitting when you're making blankets. And recently I've discovered baby booties go by more quickly on a hook than with needles.

I have Lion Brand Yarn to thank for this bootie pattern. Reading crochet patterns isn't easy when you're a beginner, but I took it one step at a time and after two pairs of funny looking booties I finally made a pair that resembled something. 

I would not call it a baby bootie in the size I was successful at, but more of a small child's slipper.

Either way, I thought they were cute and a little kitchy. They don't have the elegance of a knitted bootie, but functionality outweighs elegance when it comes to clothing a baby.

This is really a great way to make a bootie. You create the sole first, then crochet around to make the vertical volume, then work across to make the front and you end with the cuff.

I'm unable to link the pattern -- it just takes you to the main Lion Brand page, so I'll paste the pattern below. Initially it required a lot of counting and I couldn't figure out how to get the number of cuff stitches that pattern suggests you should have, but after a couple of tries I worked it out.

Also, I still haven't really figured out hook size so I used a J hook and it turned out just fine.

BOOTIE (make 2)

Ch 5 (7, 9, 9).
Foundation Row: Sc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch across - 4 (6, 8, 8) sc.
Next 5 (6, 7, 9) Rows: Ch 1, turn, sc in each sc across.
Next Row: Ch 1, turn, 2 sc in first sc, sc in each sc to last sc, 2 sc in last sc - 6 (8, 10, 10) sc.
Next 4 (7, 10, 12) Rows: Ch 1, turn, sc in each sc across.
Place marker in last st worked. Move marker up as work progresses.
Rnd 1:
 Do not turn, work 10 (14, 18, 22) sc evenly spaced down side of sole; work 4 (6, 8, 8) sc along opposite side of foundation ch (this is the heel); work 10 (14, 18, 22) sc evenly spaced along other side of sole; work 6 (8, 10, 10) sc across to marker - 30 (42, 54, 62) sc.
Next 2 (3, 4, 5) Rnds: Working in front loops only, sc in each sc around.
Top of Foot
 When working top of foot, do not ch 1 at the beginning of rows.
Row 1: Sc in next 1 (1, 2, 2) sc, sl st in next sc, turn, sk sl st, working in front loops only, sc in next 6 (8, 10, 10) sc; working in both loops, sl st in next 2 sc; leave remaining sts unworked.
Next 4 (8, 12, 14) Rows: Turn, sk first 2 sl sts, working in front loops only, sc in next 6 (8, 10, 10) sc across top of foot; working in both loops, sl st in next 2 sc along side of Bootie.
Next Row: Turn, sk first 2 sl sts, working in front loops only, sc in next 6 (8, 10, 10) sc across top of foot; working in both loops, sl st in next sc along side of Bootie.
Rnd 1:
 Turn, sk first sl st, working through both loops, sc in each sc around entire Bootie opening; do not join - 18 (22, 26, 30) sc.
Note: If you would like cuff to be a little tighter, when working Rnd 2, work 3 decreases evenly spaced around as follows: draw up a loop in each of next 2 sts, yarnover and draw through all 3 loops on hook.
Rnd 2: Sc in each sc around.
Rep last rnd until cuff measures 1 1/2 (2, 3, 4) in. (4 (5, 7.5, 10) cm). Fasten off.
Weave in ends.

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken on Homemade Buns

In one of Stephen's many lunchtime thrift store pursuits, he acquired me a Crock Pot. This appliance has never existed in my home nor in my parents' home. It is a foreign object to me. It sat in the cupboard for about two months before I finally decided to do something with it.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the most boring cut of meat. I don't like cooking them because usually I create boring meals.

So I made pulled chicken sandwiches. I let the chicken cook alllllll day and shredded it up and cooked it for even longer. It turned out pretty well, except my homemade BBQ sauce tasted like sweet mutant tomato paste, so I cheated and added some Sweet Baby Ray's and liquid smoke and everything balanced out.

The buns were a little dense, but I think it's because the recipe I used called for instant rise yeast and I only had regular yeast so I should have proofed it. I am not including the recipe for the buns because I only did a Google search and picked the first recipe I found. I'd try a different one next time. I just really didn't feel like going to the store just for hamburger buns.

3-4 chicken breasts, mostly thawed
1 tiny can of tomato paste
2/3 of the tiny can of water
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
some dried basil
some dried thyme
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1 tsp. liquid smoke

Place the chicken on the bottom of the crock pot. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and add to the crock pot. Set crock pot to low for four or five hours. Shred up the chicken with a fork and cook another two hours.  Scoop on to a bun and enjoy.

Thrift Find 7

I've been looking for solid drinking glasses for a while now and this set of six I just couldn't pass up. It makes milk so much better!

Boiled Peanuts

I'm not a big fan of peanuts. I can do without peanut butter and I'll munch on the roasted kind if it's the only thing available at a bar, but the one type of peanut I really adore is the boiled peanut.

The first time I had them was about six years ago in Seward, Alaska. Someone was selling them at a local bar. They are salty and soft -- a little like edamame.

Fast forward to present day. I really didn't think pregnancy was affecting me in the cravings department, but when my step sister-in-law posted on Facebook a photo of a Georgian boiled "P-nut" stand, that is the only thing I ever wanted to taste.

The reason I've never been able to make them myself is that you need raw peanuts -- ones that haven't been roasted. You just can't get them up here.

Thanks to my mother-in-law's thirst for online shopping, she was able to have some shipped up to me via Amazon.com.

I didn't know what to expect. I was worried they would be fresh like sprouts where they could go bad very quickly. When I opened the box, I surely thought she had mistakenly sent me roasted peanuts because they were dry and hard. Then I read they were cured and raw so I knew I was good to go!

Give yourself an afternoon to make them, because it takes several hours. The longest, easiest snack this side of the Mississippi!

Place about a pound of raw peanuts (still in their shells) into a large pot. Fill the pot with water and add 1/2 cup of salt. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. Turn heat down so your peanuts are still simmering and cook for hours until they are soft to your liking.

They can be stored for up to 10 days in the fridge and I've read you can freeze them for even longer.


The Tiniest Steelers Fan!

My friend Laura had her son five weeks early. A few days after he was born she asked me if I would make him a Steelers hat (even though I know she's a Colts fan, but I guess he's daddy's boy in the sports department).

I made the little guy the littlest hat. I couldn't imagine this hat fitting a person, but it looks like it fits him just fine and with lots of room to grow.

I made the hat using the magic loop method because it was so small that I would have had to use double points from the get-go. A normal circular needle would have been too long. Magic loop uses an extra long circular needle and you work half the stitches at a time while the other half rests on the bendy part of the circular. This sounds confusing, but once you get the hang of it it can be much faster than using double points. Just remember, every knitting technique I know I've had to learn backwards since I'm left handed, so if I can do it, you can do it!

Preemie Steelers Hat


Worsted baby yarn in yellow, black and white
At least a 32-inch long size 8 circular needle or one set of size 8 double points
Tapestry needle


Cast on 56 stitches of the white yarn either using the magic loop method or divided onto three double pointed needles.
Join your work, making sure the yarn isn't twisted. Place a marker if needed.
k1, p1 rib for five rounds.
Knit eight rounds in stockinette stitch. Switch to black. Knit three rounds. Switch to yellow. Knit four rounds. Switch to black and knit three rounds. Switch back to white and knit eight rounds.
Decrease as follows:
At stitch marker, *k2tog, k6* Repeat * till end of round
K one round
*K2tog, k5*, repeat * till end of round
K one round
*K2tog, k4*, repeat * till end of round
K one round
*K2tog, k 3*, repeat * till end of round
K one round
*K2tog, k 2*, repeat * till end of round
K one round
*K2tog, k1*, repeat * till end of round
*K2tog*, repeat * till end of round.
Cut yarn leaving an 8-inch tail. Using a darning needle, weave in all ends.

For pom-pom:
Using something small, like a matchbook, wrap yarn around and around a ton of times. Remove the matchbook and tie a 12-inch piece of yarn around the middle of the yarn loops. Cut the loops. Trim pom pom to preferred size.


Shake Your Booties!

"All the hotties at the party feeling naughty shake your boobies, yeah
Who likes to rock the party? Who likes to rock the party?
All the ladies with their babies make their babies shake their booties, yeah"

Ok, that's always what I think of when I think about knitting booties. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google it. It's funny.

I've never been a big fan of bootie making. I guess it's cause they are tiny and you have to make two of them and I really dislike knitting things flat and then stitching them up at the end. I am a knit-in-the-round type of gal.

After downloading the Red Heart Yarn app the other day, I did some bootie searching and found a pattern I actually liked. I went so far as to use the exact yarn in the pattern. They turned out just like the pattern picture!

Don't tell my husband, but I stole spare buttons off one of his dress shirts. It was a really quick knit. I made one during an episode of Law and Order, so it must have taken two hours to make both. The pattern is free and can be accessed Here. Now I need to give them to a baby so I can see them in action. 

El Jefe Morning Sandwich

My boss and I share an office and yesterday morning he started describing an egg sandwich that sounded delectable. Something about Dave's Killer Bread, pepper jack cheese and avocado. He mentioned how it was everything you needed in a meal: grain, veggie, calcium and protein.

He had me thinking about it all day. So I texted him yesterday evening to ask how he made it. I made just a couple of adjustments, but boy, this was a yummy breakfast. I'm sorry the photo doesn't do it justice.

One slice of Dave's Killer Bread (or any sort of whole grain bread)
1/4 avocado, thinly sliced
cream cheese
some sort of mild melty cheese (I used Raclette Chevre)
one egg
Cholula hot sauce

Lightly toast your bread. Spread the cream cheese on the toast and add the avocado. Top with the cheese. Place in the toaster oven on the broiler setting to get everything all melty. Meanwhile, fry an egg till it's over medium. Place the egg on top of the cheesy melty toast and douse in Cholula sauce. Best eaten with a knife and fork.


Killer Nachos

Yum! Easy! Here's how!

Ingredients for Guacamole:
1 ripe avocado
6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients with a fork

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce:
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. Wondra flour, or regular flour
1/2 cup whole milk
4 slices American cheese

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together. Cook for a minute and then add the milk, stirring frequently till thickened. If it's too thick, add more milk. Add the cheese and stir till cheese is melted.

Chop up two green onions.

Spread some corn chips on a plate. Pour on some of the cheese sauce. Add more chips on top. Add the remaining sauce and sprinkle with green onions. Place the guacamole on top of the nachos. Eat them!


Homemade Basil Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and More Basil

My friend Kelly and I wanted to make bruschetta today so we asked my dad if we could raid his homegrown basil. My father doesn't just have an herb garden by the window. He dedicates two thirds of our dining room table to growing his own basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and now, hot chile peppers. He uses special hot pink LED grow lights for his little herbal infatuation and what he produces are the bushiest, biggest, almost mutant-like herbs and peppers. His basil is no exception.

When we went up to snag some my dad said "It's either all or nothing" and forced us to butcher his entire crop. We were left with a conundrum -- what the heck do we do with all this basil?

Make green pasta, ff course. And top it with more basil. Double of course!

We came up with the brightest green pasta, tossed it with a creamy sauce and then topped it with cherry tomatoes. Amazing!

And here's how we made it.


For the Pasta:
3 cups flour
3 eggs
3 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt
3 tbs. olive oil

For the sauce:
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. pine nuts
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs. Wondra flour, or regular flour
salt and pepper
chopped cherry tomatoes
chopped basil

To make the dough:
Add the flour, garlic powder and salt to a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the basil, eggs and oil and start processing. Through the little tube in the top, start slowly pouring in water until a rough ball of dough forms. Turn on to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, incorporating more flour if it's too sticky. What you should end up with is a smooth, elastic dough. Place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap for 30 minutes or so.

Set up your pasta roller. If you do not have a roller then this is going to be a long cooking job for you and I recommend putting your dough in the fridge and driving to a store that sells a pasta roller.

Using lemon-sized balls of dough, run it through the largest setting, folding it over itself and adding more flour if necessary. This kneads the dough for you. Make sure the dough isn't sticky at all during this process. Fold the dough on itself and run it through this setting about seven times. Now start adjusting the rollers thinner and thinner, running the dough through once each time till it's as thin as you prefer. I like setting 6 on my roller.

Flour each sheet of pasta on both sides and set on a cookie sheet. Repeat with lemon-sized balls of dough till you've rolled out all the dough.

Set a large pot of salted water to boil.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil and add the pine nuts, stirring frequently, till they are lightly toasted. Add the chicken stock, cottage cheese, salt and pepper, flour and Parmesan cheese stirring rapidly until it thickens. Turn heat to low.

Meanwhile, run your sheets of pasta through the cutters. I like the fettucini setting because the vermicelli can be stickier sometimes. If your pasta sticks together a little, just separate the noodles when they've gone through the cutter and dust with flour. Collect on a tray.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir to make sure noodles don't stick. Cover the pot till it boils again and then cook the noodles for about 30 seconds. Test a noodle. It should have a bite to it. Before draining the water, reserve about 1/2 cup of the noodle water and add it to the sauce.

Steaming pile of noodle

Drain the noodles and immediately transfer to the saute pan. Turn the heat to med-high and add the tomatoes and chopped basil. Toss till the noodles are well coated and the tomatoes cook a little bit, about 3 minutes.

Enjoy all the hard work you put into making a delicious meal. You deserve it!


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