Sunday, December 29, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

KNIT: Trio of Dishcloths

I found this adorable idea for the "We WASH you a Merry Christmas" soap gifts from Darling Doodles.  (Pinterest to the rescue!) I paired it with my handmade dishcloths for an extra special touch. And voila! Happy teacher gifts all ready to go. In fact, I've been a crazy knitting lady these past couple of weeks. Late nights of knitting + early mornings to get kids ready for school = what my 11 year old calls "a cranky mom".  True. But the gifts are all done & made! In fact, the girls are delivering the last of the bunch at school today. Christmas break starts this afternoon. Woohoo! (Which means any more late nights of knitting can be met with a morning of sleeping in. I am loving life right now!)

I've had requests for these patterns, so I thought I'd share the trio that, so far, are my "go to" patterns. 
The instructions are listed below. For a free printable version, click HERE.

This pattern, & the next, were given to me by my grandmother. They were typed out onto a piece of paper, complete with scribbles & notes & check-marks to keep track of rows.

Cast on 15 sts. 

ROW 1---knit 
ROW 2--- K3, YO, K11 (1 st left on needle) TURN 
ROW 3---knit 
ROW 4---K3, YO, K11 (2 sts left on needle) TURN 
ROW 5---knit 
ROW 6---K3, YO, K11 (3 sts left on needle) TURN 
ROW 7---knit 
ROW 8---Bind off 3 sts. K2, YO, K8 (4 sts left on needle) TURN 
ROW 9 ---knit 
ROW 10---K3, YO, K8 (5 sts left on needle) TURN 
ROW 11---knit 
ROW 12---K3, YO, K8 (6 sts left on needle) TURN 
ROW 13---knit 
ROW 14---Bind off 3 sts. K2, YO, K5 (7 sts left on needle) TURN 
ROW 15---knit 
ROW 16---K3, YO, K5 (8 sts left on needle) TURN 
ROW 17---knit 
ROW 18---K3, YO, K5 (9 sts left on needl) TURN 
ROW 19---knit 
ROW 20---Bind off 3 sts. Knit to end. Repeat ROW 1 thru 20 six more times. (Row 1 thru 20 forms one section of dishcloth. Complete dishcloth has 7 total sections.) 
Once completed, bind off & sew ends together.


Cast on 17 sts.
Turn---Slip 1 st, K16 
Turn---Slip 1 st, K14 
Turn---Slip 1 st, K12 
Turn---Slip 1 st, K10 
Turn---Slip 1 st, K8 
Turn---Slip 1 st, K6 
Turn---Slip 1 st, K4 
Turn---Slip 1 st, K2 
Knit 17 sts & repeat 
Makes a total of 12 sections 
Bind off & stitch ends together


I have found there are many different variations on the waffle stitch. This, of course, is just one of the many. This dishcloth looks quite cool in a solid color too. 
I cast on 40 sts, & got a dishcloth approximately 9"x9". But make it whatever size you prefer.

ROW 1---*K1, P2* (repeat from * to *) K1
ROW 2---*P1, K2* (repeat from * to *) P1
ROW 3---Knit
ROW 4---Purl
Repeat ROWS 1-4 until you reach the desired size.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Foundation Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ever since I can remember, decorating Christmas sugar cookies has been a tradition in my home every December. My brother, sister & I would sit at the table with mom (& sometimes dad), to make the best & most incredible edible holiday mess in history. It was a lot of work for my mother to pull off this event every year. It was an all-afternoon affair. I know this, because about 10 years ago I started this tradition with my own kids. My mother has passed the sugar cookie baking torch on to me. Zoey & Pazely look forward to it every Christmas. And I hope they build equally fond memories of our times together. If you want to know the truth, I say the same things to them every year: 
Don't lick your fingers! 
Stop eating the sprinkles! 
Pazely, HOW did you get nonpareils up your nose? 
Don't you dare run away—we have TONS of cookies left to decorate! 

This year, Pazely created her traditional "Overload" cookie, where she piles every color of frosting & every kind of sprinkle onto one cookie. It's a special cookie JUST for her. 
And we had a few new nutty entries: Zoey created a corpse-like gingerbread man, complete with "X" eyes. And Pazely kept referring to the dove cookie cutter as a pigeon.
*Those girls.*

I think I had it in my brain that this recipe was from grandmother. But, in fact, it is from a recipe book that my mother & father received as a wedding present 45 years ago: The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, 1968. 

This recipe makes a delicious sugar cookie that is not overly sweet. The sweetness comes from the frosting you choose to use. The recipe I use for frosting is the Betty Crocker Powdered Sugar Glaze. But then I add butter to it & make it a consistency that is a bit more thick, &less of a drizzly glaze. If it tastes too much like powdered sugar, I'll add more vanilla. I know, I'm all over the place here. One of these days I really should measure it all out & be more scientific about it.

1 C shortening
2 C sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
5 1/2 C flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder

(Makes 168 two-inch cookies.)

1. Cream shortening. Add sugar gradually & cream well.
2. Add milk & vanilla to beaten eggs.
3. Stir all dry ingredients together & add alternately with the liquid ingredients to the creamed mixture.
4. Chill dough.
5. Roll out small portions of dough at a time to 1/4" thickness on a floured pastry cloth. Keep remaining dough in the refrigerator & save all the scraps after cutting for the final rolling so that the dough does not become overworked.
6. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes. (Ovens may vary! My oven bakes these cookies in 9 minutes!)

Click HERE for a printable recipe.

(I'm new to this "printable recipe" thing. The link will take you to a shared file I created in Google Documents for the 4"x6" recipe card pictured. I'm sure there's another way to do this. I've seen some cool printable recipe options on other blogs, but I'm not quite cool enough to have figured out those saavy techniques. If you have any pointers, let me know!)

Happy baking!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dollar Store Gift Exchange

Here is a fun activity you can do with your family...

Go to the nearest dollar store, & give everybody in your family $1 + some extra coins to cover tax. Have everyone draw names from a hat. (Like for a gift swap.) Then, separately, browse the store to find the weirdest thing you can find for your giftee. Purchase the item. (Careful! No peeking!) And then have an uproarious gift exchange in the parking lot. Or back at home with some hot cocoa. 

Pazely & I had so much fun testing out this silly game during a recent mommy/daughter date. While browsing the bargain-tastic merchandise, I found a motion-sensor plastic bird decoration with a clip-on attachment. At the sensing of any movement that thing whistled like crazy. I began to laugh. Out loud. As I presented Pazely with her present, which was really a Christmas ornament, I told her it was a barrette for her hair. Haha! She knew it wasn't a hair accessory, & played along anyway. Oh, how we giggled & giggled! 

The real "weird" gift I found for her was a fake tattoo sleeve, discovered in the toy section. 
SO realistic. 

I can't wait to play this game on Zoey's upcoming date & even try it as a family. This is a perfect activity to do for the Christmas season, but would work any time of year too!