Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Temperature Blanket

Wow! I haven't posted to this blog in over a year. Time just goes by so quickly. Well, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to get my act together and restart posting my projects.

To that end, I'm starting this year off with a fun activity - a Temperature Blanket for the year 2016. What is that you ask? It's a blanket you make, choosing a for each row based on the temperature each day over the course of the entire year.

The first thing I did was come up with an overall range of temperatures and assign a color per 10° range.

In order to make sure that my overall range made sense, I first looked back at the temperatures in my area for the previous year. I used the U.S. Climate Data website to pull the historical data into an excel spreadsheet, then I averaged the high and low temperatures given for each day. I made the minimum and maximum averages over the year the ends of my temperature chart and created smaller ranges of 10° in between.

Next it was time to assign colors to those 10° ranges. Some people use colors typically associated with hot for the higher temperatures and cold for the lower temperatures. I decided to use something similar, mimicking the colors of a rainbow. Remember the acronym ROYGBIV? Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

Using that type of scale, I just picked colors I liked and put them in order. Here's my temperature chart that I created:


I am using Red Heart Super Saver yarn and chose the following colors:

70°F and above - Cherry Red
60° to 69°F - Pumpkin
50° to 59°F - Cornmeal
40° to 49°F - Honeydew
30° to 39°F - Jade
20° to 29°F - Real Teal
10° to 19°F - Lavender
9°F and below - Amethyst


You can choose your colors any way that pleases you. Be a rebel! Pick your colors however you want! This is YOUR blanket.

Now it's time to keep track of your daily temperature. I am using the average temperature for the day that is recorded on the Wunderground website. Every day, I look up the temperature from the day before and record it on an excel file. Here's a copy of what I started to keep track over the year:


Setting up this type of excel file is very easy to do to keep a record of each row you crochet or knit. 

Lastly, it's time to figure out a pattern. Of course, you could just make a blanket using a simple stitch, but I wanted to have a cool design in addition to the color by temperature concept. Since I crochet, I checked out Ravelry for afghan patterns that seemed simple enough but looked fun to make.

The pattern I decided on is the Groovyghan.

You are welcome to use whatever pattern you want! A few others I had been considering were these:

Sea Wave Afghan
Super Simple Throw
Textured Random Striped Blankie
Granny Stripes
Blackberry Salad Striped Afghan

I've created an event on my Purple Kitty Facebook page for anyone that would like to join in the fun with me and other crafters. Come CAL/KAL with us!

Here's the progress of my own temperature blanket today:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cornbread Recipe with Actual Corn


I was looking for a cornbread recipe that uses actual corn and it was a near impossible task. I remember having cornbread with corn kernels in the past, although, where that was escapes me. What I do remember about it was how delicious the cornbread was and the addition of some corn gave it that extra something special that I'd been missing in other cornbreads I'd had since.

I ended up finding a recipe online and modifying it for my own purposes. I had no idea how this was going to work, but figured how badly can you screw up cornbread by adding corn, right?

Here is my modified version:

Ingredients

1 C cornmeal
1½ C cut kernel corn
3 C flour
2 C sugar
2 tbl baking powder
1 tsp salt
⅔ C olive oil
⅓ C melted butter
4 eggs
2½ C half and half

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking dish. This recipe makes a large cornbread so you'll want to use a 9 x 13 baking dish or something comparable.

First, mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking power, and salt. Pour in the oil, melted butter, eggs and half and half, then stir until moistened. Lastly, mix your corn into the rest of the ingredients.

Pour the batter into your baking dish and bake for approximately one hour. Use a toothpick to check that it's cooked through in the center by inserting it and checking for it to come out clean.

cornbread right out of the oven

cornbread sliced to eat

You can serve this warm or cold, with honey or butter, or even just plain. The bread itself does bake up rather dense which causes the corn kernels to mostly be at the top of the bread (as you can see in the photos), but it's still very moist and also very delicious.

I've made this a couple of times now, once substituting some of the sugar with honey as the original recipe calls for. I didn't notice much difference. I also substituted gluten free flour at Thanksgiving to accommodate my niece and it was still very delicious and not noticeable that the flour was gluten free.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cranberry-Apple Sauce

homemade cranberry-apple sauce
It's almost Thanksgiving and I decided I'd like to try my hand at making a cranberry sauce for my family instead of relying on the canned version. I looked around and finally hit on this recipe. Here is my slightly altered version:

Ingredients

5-6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
12 oz package fresh cranberries
1 lemon, sliced and seeded
1½ C sugar
½ C water
¾ C sweetened dried cranberries

cooking the ingredients

Mix first five ingredients in large saucepan, bringing it to a boil. Reduce heat, then continue to stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in dried cranberries. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

When I mixed the first five ingredients to put in the saucepan, it looked like I had way too many apples and not enough liquid. But the apples cooked down pretty quickly. 

It did take several minutes to bring it to a boil (and I did wonder at one point if it would ever boil!) but once that happened, it started to thicken up fairly quickly as well.

The ¾ cup for the dried cranberries is equal to about a 5 oz package of Mariani dried cranberries. I wasn't sure if I was going to put the dried cranberries in or not, but I did and now I can't really tell the fresh berries from the dried berries.

The recipe is very easy to make. The most work is first peeling and prepping the apples, then continually stirring the mixture until it thickens, but it can easily be whipped up within a half hour and it will keep for up to two weeks, according to the original recipe.

I have the sauce chilling in my refrigerator right now, but I did take a quick taste. There is a nice blend of tartness and sweetness that you would expect from cranberries and Granny Smith apples. It's going to be the perfect sauce to complement turkey and mashed potatoes in a couple of days. Much better than anything out of a can.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Face Throw Adapted

getting started
I started making this Pumpkin Face Throw (a free pattern from Red Heart) because I had a lot of vehicle passenger time when my husband and I recently took a quick trip to visit my BFF from high school. I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with it when I got finished, but the squares were very easy to make and worked up quickly enough, so it was perfect for working on while traveling.

Somewhere around hour number four of our trip, it dawned on me that I was making these squares up so quickly, I could probably crank one of these throws out every month or so just working on them in my spare time. That got me to thinking about who would love to receive a piece of handmade love and my mind instantly went to our deployed servicemen and women.

weaving in the yarn ends
I finished my throw last night and am sending it out tomorrow to a soldier who can use a little pick me up.

the finished throw!
As a military mom myself (my youngest son is active in the U.S. Army) and a member of the Military Mama Network, I know how important it is to our troops that they know we support them and appreciate their sacrifice for our country. The very least I can do is send them something to remind them of that while they are so far away from home. That is why I've decided to coordinate an effort to gather squares from around the country - or even the world! - and put these throws together, working with the Military Mama Network to identify servicemen and women who are needing some love.

If you'd like to contribute squares for future throws, please click here for instructions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Tale of Two Hats



About a month ago, I was between projects, waiting for yarn I had ordered for my next project to arrive. So I figured I'd grab a skein from the yarn stash and make up a hat. 

I just wanted an easy and free crochet hat pattern. Searching around the Internet, I landed on a Ribbed Crochet Hat Pattern that looked easy enough. It called for worsted weight yarn, but I had some Red Heart Baby TLC yarn that I had bought on a whim when it was on sale and really wanted to try, so I used that instead even though it's sport weight yarn.

Well, of course, that made working up this pattern feel like it was never going to end. I finally decided to finish it off even though I knew the hat size would be rather small and fit for a toddler. The hat actually turned out really well. Cute enough, for sure. And will make some toddler all snuggly warm this winter.


At some point during my down time, I had to run out to Joann and pick up a couple of quick supplies. Like I normally do, I walked through the yarn rows. Because, you know - YARN! I focused on the Red Heart With Love yarn and I think literally fell in love. I decided I wanted to work on a pumpkin hat since it's fall and all, so I picked up a couple of skeins, one mango, one evergreen.

When I got home, I started the search for an easy and free crochet pumpkin hat pattern. I found a really nice pumpkin hat with a cool looking stem called Ribbed Pumpkin Hat Pattern

It worked up quickly and I really love this pattern. The only problem I have with it, though, is it seems a little bit tight for an adult, or even an older child's head (I had my grandsons try it out!). That might be because I tend to crochet rather tightly so when I try this pattern again, I'll increase the length of the original chain, and then increase the number of rows because I like my winter hats to be a little bit on the loose side. All in all, I'm really happy with the final outcome. 


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hot Plate Mat in Star Stitch

Because I was between projects and waiting for yarn, I decided to work on a vintage pattern that used a stitch I wasn't used to making so that I'd get some more experience with it. That brought me to the Hot Spots Plate Mats pattern which uses the beautiful star stitch.


The first thing I'll mention is that because this is a vintage pattern, the instructions are rather...minimal. After the third row, it just directs you to repeat the rounds, increasing as necessary to keep the work flat. Not having worked much with rounds, I ended up doing a lot of frogging trying to figure out when I needed to increase, when I didn't. Eventually I got into a groove and started increasing for several rows with the same pattern, like three star stitches as one would work normally work a star stitch, then creating a star stitch increase by drawing up your last loop through the fastening ch of the next star st. After several rows, you will notice that the piece isn't working flat again, so you'll need to modify the pattern you'd been using such as make four star stitches, then create a star stitch increase. Continue to do that until your hot plate mat is the size you desire.


To make the hot plate mat, I just pulled out some yarn I had on hand (which wasn't rug yarn as the pattern suggests). I had some pretty variegated Red Heart Super Saver worsted, and I love the way the star st looks using variegated yarn, so that's what I ended up using. For practicality, I would probably go with a heavier yarn if I was going to make more of these because this mat came out rather thin using the worsted, but it's still functional.


I finished off the pattern with a border of sc around. As per usual, I didn't use a stitch marker and had some difficulty figuring out where to end, but I ended up folding the mat in half and giving it my best guess.

All in all, my goal was achieved - practice using the star st which is really a beautiful looking stitch on a finished item. Now that I've practiced and gotten somewhat proficient at it, I think I might actually work up a baby blanket using this stitch!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blueberry Muffin Recipe

Delicious 2nd attempt using longer recipe

I was looking for a quick and easy blueberry muffin recipe to use up the plethora of blueberries I had bought before they went bad. I found this recipe:

Seemed simple enough. I gave it a go. This was what the muffins looked like out of the oven.

First attempt at blueberry muffins using easy recipe


Honestly, I was a little disappointed. They weren't as sweet as I like my muffins to be and were really quite bland (even though several family members said they were delicious).

So the next time I had way too many blueberries in my fridge, I looked for another recipe to try that had more sugar! And found this one.

I changed it up a bit and this (because SUGAR!) was the revised recipe I used:

INGREDIENTS

1-½ c flour
1 c white sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
⅓ c olive oil
1 egg
⅓ c half and half
1 c fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping

½ c white sugar
⅓ c flour
¼ c Crisco butter flavored baking sticks
1½ tsp ground cinnamon


METHOD
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line muffin cups with liners.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add and mix oil, egg and half and half to flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together sugar, flour, Crisco, and cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.


I substituted half and half for milk in the recipe because we have skim milk in the house and I always like some milkfat in my cooking. I also substituted the Crisco for butter because I think it's easier to work with and bakes better than butter.

The amount of crumb topping made from the recipe was too much for the number of actual muffins the recipe made. Fortunately, I was making banana bread muffins at the same time and so I used the leftover crumb topping from this recipe to top the other muffins too.




The final result of these muffins really was to die for. This is now my go to blueberry muffin recipe...and I've decided this crumb topping needs to be put on everything and will use it when I try making eggplant bread again.