Wednesday, June 27, 2012

F@&$ it, Dude. Let's go Bowling. An Amigurumi Lebowski. The Dude.

As seen on Ravelry...

Yesterday, Miss Julia over at Mommy's Little Monkey asked if I might be able to make "that character from Lebowski"?

To which I replied, "WHICH character? They are ALL crazy characters!"

Turns out, she's never seen 'The Big Lebowski', and while admittedly feels the necessary shame about it, I'm shaming her in public to MAKE her watch.

Go do it, 'k, Julia???



So. Indeed. The Dude Abides.  In crochet.  In Amigurumi, even.

It was, of course, our hero, The Dude she was looking for. Here he is.

I love how his hair turned out. Pretty Dude-like, if I do say so, myself, and shouldn't.

Bathrobe complete with pockets for your checkbook.

You know... Because you never know when you'll need to write at check to Ralph's for $2.49 for a carton of half & half for your next White Russian.

Also, the comfort sandals. Those are important. Like... for walking on rugs that really tie the room together.

Watch out, Dude, I think Jackie Treehorn just slipped you a Mickey.

Yeah. He TOTALLY did.

Some days you eat the bahr, some days the bahr eats you.

He's a good man. And thorough.

Bottoms up, Dude.

No, there's no pattern.  Sigh. 

I just make this stuff up as I go along.... if you can make your own amigurumis, you can make Lebowski.  It's your basic head/body (although, I do use doubled-over pipe cleaners for arm and leg fillers, so that I can pose 'em), a separate bathrobe and sandals, some hair... felt bits...  it's all in how you put it together, really... and how many White Russians you've had...

Kidding.  I'm not sure I could actually make this while tossing back a few White Russians.  It would probably look more like Walter Sobchak if I did.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tunisian Crochet (or 'Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks')

I'm not the sort of girl who can just go on doing the same old same old thing over and over and over again. No. I'm not.

I ran into a Tunisian Crochet pin on Pinterest the other day that intrigued me-- I've seen this sort of stitching before, but didn't know how it was done. Was it Knit? Was it Crochet?

Turns out, it's a little bit of both.

It's crochet in the sense that you use a hook, you pull up loops.... And it's knit because you leave pulled up loops on the hook, much as you work with yarn on a needle.

Each row is made up of two "passes"-- on the first pass, you pull up loops across, leaving them on the hook. The second pass involves yarning over and pulling through loops and dropping each stitch off the hook as you go. At the end of the row (the end of the second pass), all loops but one are off the hook.

I learned everything I needed to know over at StitchDiva. Their tutorials are perfect, and the 3-color Tunisian method has crazy potential. In fact, when my mother called me and requested some new cotton dishcloths (she loves the nubby crochet goodness), I knew this was the way to go.

This is the simplest Tunisian stitch (Tunisian is also called "Afghan Stitch", if it looks familiar to you). The vertical bars you see are the loops that you pull through on the first pass. It's very easy to see where you are inserting your hook, and the 3-color method is even easier, as each step has a single color thread to work with. So--- on one pass, you are working only with color A, on the second pass, you are yarning over with color B. Beginning row 2, you introduce color C, and just leave all the colors waiting for you at the end of the row. No joining at the end of each row... the colors are right where you left them.

It's like magic, I tell you.

This is the front of a 3-color piece that I made this morning. I like to use two solid colored yarns (here shown in lilac and brown) and one variegated yarn (here, a green/white mix).

And the BACK is what makes it perfect for my mother's nubby dishcloth needs. Very nubby. Almost scrubby, even. Looks quite similar to the reverse side of a knit piece, actually.

And speaking of knit.... This cloth was made using a stitch that mimics a traditional knit stitch so closely, I'm not sure I'd be able to tell the difference. But I didn't use knitting needles. I used a crochet hook.

There ARE special hooks for Tunisian crochet.... They are much longer than a traditional crochet hook, and have a stopper at the end, much like a knitting needle.... But I didn't use them for these samples. I found that it was easy enough to keep up to 30 stitches on my traditional crochet hook without even trying. Won't need to special order an Afghan hook, or even head out to my local yarn store until I decide to make something larger. Although, knowing me, it won't be too long until I do just that.

Front and back of the Simple Tunisian Stitch. It's worth noting that you want to use LARGE hooks with Tunisian crochet, otherwise, it's just too tight. It seems too loose as you are working the first pass, but with the second, you are adding two more strands,so it works out. For these samples, the recommended hook size for the cotton yarn was a US size H/8 (5mm). I ended us using a US J/10 ( for the Tunisian stitches, and switched to the H for the traditional crochet borders.

Now. If I can just convince someone to weave in all those ends for me, I'll be set.

What have YOU learned or taught yourself lately? Hmmm?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Must be Summertime...

I've been hit with a summer cold. Not bad enough to knock me down, but bad enough to make me lazy and not go to the pool with my family today. Instead, there was some much needed grocery shopping.

We've been watching a lot of 'Chopped' lately on the Food Network (chefs given a surprise basket of food from which to prepare an appetizer, an entree and a desert, and after each round, one of them is "chopped" from the competition until only one champion is left standing) and I've come to the conclusion that one shouldn't be in the throes of making dinner while that show is on.

Strange things come out of your oven.

Earlier this week there was a sort of chicken and vegetable pie thingamabob, that looked ridiculous, but tasted pretty damn good. Even my five year old like it.

Tonight, following the trip to Sprouts, things were going swimmingly until the giant Bing Cherry turnover thing I envisioned started leaking through the crust so badly that I had to act quickly before there was a serious cherry juice disaster.

So... in between the sprinkling cinnamon on the acorn squash and the snapping of the green beans, I dumped the whole, giant cherry turnover into my small jelly-rollish pan to save my oven from death by cherries.

Most of the crust ended up on one side, which wasn't exactly a good thing, so I chopped up the half-baked crust bits with my spatula, stirred it all together and crossed my fingers.

It totally worked.

Inside Out Cherry Pie is a new family favorite.

It may never happen again, but if I'm ever on "Chopped" and my giant rose water and prosciutto pie with candied Special K cereal sprinkles starts overflowing.... I'll know just what to do.

The rest of dinner was this: Grilled Tilapia with Lemon, Parsley and Cilantro, Fresh green beans with garlic and a hint of olive oil and acorn squash with cinnamon and just a little brown sugar.

I heart summer.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

ArtWalk with the San Marcos Arts Council

Met so many nice people today at the ArtWalk today! I so enjoyed myself. If you and I met at the ArtWalk, Welcome! You can find information directly related to the Pebbles HERE.

My friend, Jane (who not only write the lovely piece the project, but also is a member of the San Marcos Arts Council), made me this lovely sign for my table. It was especially cheery and made me feel very welcomed. You are a peach, Miss Jane.

I just took one, quick photo of my table-- happily enough, I was too busy talking to people to do a better job of it.

The ArtWalk continues at Old California Restaurant Row in San Marcos on the first Sunday of each month, through November. I plan to attend as many as possible between now and November.

But it was a lovely day, all in all. We were even treated to a yoga-style Flash Mob courtesy of Yoga Munkey in Vista.

I'll have to go check out that studio....

Friday, June 1, 2012

20 Minute Dinner - Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Busy little Bees over here. We've been doing things like touring the Middle School (GAH!), having year-end potlucks at pre-school (with pony rides!), working on new music, getting ready for an ArtWalk this Sunday, setting up a Not-So"Easy Set" pool in the backyard, etc, etc, etc...

But we still have to eat.

And so, I present to you, my go-to, favorite Quick Dinner, and my kid's overall favorite meal, hands-down.

It's something my mother started, and I tweaked (I added the Basil and the butter), and it never fails.  SO EASY.  Promise.

I'm going to apologize in advance for the fuzzy pictures.  It is apparently difficult to take pictures with an iPhone while your hands are covered in chicken goo and olive oil. and you are trying to hurryhurryhurry to feed hungry kids.  Lesson learned.

Julianna's Parmesan/Pecorino Crusted Chicken

Chicken breasts or Chicken Tenders
Freshly Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese (I prefer Pecorino)*
Olive Oil

Grate the Cheese onto a large plate, Like SO.  I've generally use almost a whole cup of grated cheese for two, large chicken breasts.  Now is not the time to skimp.  If you have a rotary grater like mine, it's just one lump of cheese cut to fit into the well/holding tank/cheese receptacle of the grater. 

Sprinkle on the Basil and mix it into the cheese your hands. Set plate aside. 

Add 2 Tbls EACH of butter and Olive Oil to a heavy pan on the stove.  Turn the heat to HIGH.  You want a HOT pan for this to work.

Cut larger chicken pieces in half -- they will cook more evenly and also more easily fit in the pan.

Pound out the Chicken inside some freezer paper (easy clean-up).  Take it easy, though.  Pounded chicken shreds are harder to cook.  I usually just pound them until they are about and even 1/4" thick.

Dredge/Pat the chicken pieces in the cheese mixture.  I don't dip the chicken in anything.  The cheese will stick.

Is your pan HOT?  Good. 

Arrange the chicken pieces in the pan to fit.  Cook about 3-4 minutes per side until golden and cheesy-crusty in the HOT pan. (I keep saying "HOT" because at lower temps, the cheese just melts and drips off the chicken.  That's not the point AT ALL...)

Serve with pasta, throw together a Salad, cut up some fruit, and this, my friends, is DINNER. 

Of course, if your kids are like mine, they will not eat salad, but they WILL eat cut up veggies.  This is Evan's plate.

*This will NOT work with the stuff in a Green Can!  Don't even THINK about it!