Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Season Crochet Marathon Part 2: The Loving Hugs Newborn Booties

My last post about crochet was the marathon of the Fingerless Gloves. I promised to post the Loving Hugs Newborn Booties next so, as promised, here it is... the making of a pair of booties especially for the baby of my officemate, Julie.  See the invitation personally made by Lee.
 
When we first planned about having a shower party, I immediately thought of making a pair of socks as gift. (Actually, I've been thinking of crocheting a pair of socks for months now. The desire came about the moment I signed up in Make Socks, a group initiated by Cheryl Isenberg in Stitchtalk, a sewing community. I joined the group hoping to be able to make at least a pair so that I could share it, but the project just brewed in my mind and has never materialized.) "Now is the time," I said to myself. I just thought crocheting a pair of socks would be a perfect gift for a baby shower. 

So the first thing I did was to look for a pattern as I had none in my files. I had only a few days left before the date so I didn't have much choice left but to look for a simple, easy-to-follow pattern that I could finish in a jiffy. While browsing over some patterns from the Internet, I came upon the Loving Hugs Newborn Booties by Darcy Richardson


I liked the pattern at first glance because it really looked easy to make. Going through the instructions confirmed my first impression and I was not mistaken. It was so reader -friendly and very easy to follow. 

See the making of my own version of it. I used yellow yarn because 'twas too late for me to realize I didn't have enough pink yarn in my stash. We already knew Julie is going to have a baby girl so I planned to crochet a pair of pink booties. But then I couldn't delay the making for another day just to buy pink yarn. I wouldn't have finished on time for the shower party. So, yellow it was.


  True enough, I was able to finish the booties in two nights while watching my favorite TV soap drama 
before going to bed. Here it is, the finished project...

  
This is Julie with all the gifts we showered her. She is expected to give birth to a baby girl anytime now.





It looks like Julie liked the booties! Nice color?


 As I crocheted these booties, I also became excited at the thought of giving friends labors of love such as samples of my favorite recipes or crocheted works as gifts this year. Couldn't wait to see what will come out of my crochet hook this holiday season. You may post your guess at the comment box below. Whoever gets it right will be featured in my next crochet marathon so please tell something about yourself before you post your guess.

Meanwhile, have a craftsy New Year's Eve! :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

El Baile en Mi Cusina: The Christmas Eve Show


What's up on Christmas Eve?  Well, my migraine had its toll on me. But good thing I was able to make reservations the previous night  thru text messages for my fish, chicken and veggie purchases from my favorite market vendors.  Surprisingly, there were still a lot on display at 10 o'clock in the morning!  I was able to take home salmon belly, boneless bangus, cream dowry, chicken lollipops and breast fillet, and veggies, of course. But those wouldn't have been complete without fruits so I got persimmon, pear, apple and honey melon. And the leche flan, of course, I almost forgot to mention! 

And so the kitchen ballroom dance began… Maestro, music please...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Season Crochet Marathon: Part 1

Hello! It's been exactly two weeks since my last post. It's Christmas season and everybody is just too busy with gifts and gift-giving! While holiday shopping seems to be the only thing that matters for many this season, I ventured into a holiday crochet marathon which started more than a week ago.  I began the marathon by browsing over the patterns from my crochet files and the Internet. Since both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on weekends this year, we don't have extra days for vacation. No extended days off from work. That means less time for my crochet projects. :(

Oh, how I miss my crochet hook after several months! For this year I thought of choosing easy-to-finish projects to be given as gifts for my friends. Last year, I gave away some USB / MP3 holders made by Ana Cristina, my younger daughter. (I have featured her works in my previous post.)

But before I embark on my intended crochet give a ways, I already started running the marathon and finished three lapses last week using these patterns--- the Loving Hugs Newborn Booties by Darcy Richardson, The Lacy Fingerless Gloves by Christie Pruitt and Coffee Time by Debra Arch. For this post, I'd like to talk about the Lacy Fingerless Gloves I made.
The idea of crocheting a pair of gloves came about when my nursing colleagues decided to go "Rockin' and Rollin' 50s" as the theme of our Christmas party this year. Most of us had in mind the Audrey Hepburn or retro fashion, hairstyle and make-up. I bought a blue straight dress but at the last minute decided to wear my old brown plain pencil-cut dress. I was thinking of wearing a pair of gloves that would have enhanced my attire. However, since I didn't have the luxury of time to scout for one, I thought that the easiest alternative for me was to make my own. I have seen patterns of crocheted gloves from my electronic files but I also had to search the Net for more patterns to choose from. These were the designs I liked…
Harlequin Mitts by Shirley MacDonald
 Color of Christmas and nice design, don't you think so? But here's another pretty option.... and my favorite color too!
Daisy Daisy by Sue B. Balcom
Here's another one I like because it looks so elegant. I didn't choose this though because I had no time searching for buttons.
Lacy Wristers by Kaity Harding.
 And another one which I thought would match the blue dress I mentioned earlier, remember? But then, I changed my mind.
Crochet Openwork Handwarmers by creative yarn
 It took me quite some time to decide which among the patterns to choose. If you were in my shoes, which one would you have chosen? But wait, here's another one... the Lacy Fingerless Gloves. This became my best choice because it was simply a perfect match to my plain brown pencil-cut dress which I accessorized using a beige belt and headband and a white pearl necklace.


The Lacy Fingerless Gloves by Christie Pruitt 
 See the making of my own version of the Lacy Fingerless Gloves in a picture collage
and how I looked with it on during our Christmas Party.


Coming up next...the Loving Hugs Newborn Booties. Have a craftsy holiday season to all!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Whose responsibility?

   "You are responsible for what others think of you." Can't remember where I first heard this quote--- from the preaching of a former Pastor, a Sunday School teacher or a former college professor? I couldn't recall anymore. :(
     But the truth in this statement has since then reverberated in my mind. Is this dress too revealing? (Haha! As if there's anything to reveal afterall! :) ) What if I say or do this? Not that I fear what others might think of me for being the real me. I simply mean that it (the quote) should make us more cautious lest we be a stumbling block and others be offended by our actions. By actions I mean anything we say or do. When we get surprised, are amazed or in awe of something, we often utter words we don't really mean. Unknowingly we may actually be blaspheming the name of God with our expressions on those unguarded moments. The way we dress, our facial expressions, places we go to… virtually anything that would allow others to harbor unpleasant thoughts about us and doubt our Christianity.

     As a mother, I would often remind (hmmm… "nag" is more accurate, I confess) my daughters on how they dress---especially on wearing of short shorts, miniskirts and plunging necklines. Oh yes, call me "old fashioned", I'm not ashamed to admit it. But being remiss on my responsibility of teaching modesty as a value is one thing I would far from desire. Oh yes, indeed, how difficult it is to strike a balance between being fashionable and modest in this modern world!

     How we grow our hair, the kind of dress we wear most often speak of the inner recesses of our hearts. It is true that there are no hard and fast rules on these areas in God's written Word and that being the case, we need to apply our individual soul liberty. This liberty usually comes into play in areas which the Bible does not address directly. Let's be careful not to misuse this doctrine when as believers we do not show much concern about our testimonies especially when we seem to care less about what others think of us such that we become poor examples or stumbling blocks especially for our weak brothers and sisters. Let's be reminded on what Paul had to say in Rom 14:21 about how we should do nothing that would cause a weaker believer to stumble or be offended.  Let us be responsible in practicing this liberty in a quiet, respectful and non-offensive way. Common examples of activities where this liberty often becomes an issue are going to movies, watching TV, playing cards, dancing, choice of music and style of dress, among many others.

     I remember a preacher who once gave the following self-check questions. When you are at the crossroads of making a decision whether or not to do a certain thing, see if these would be of help to you:
     Will this bring glory to God?
     Will God be pleased if I do this?
     Will brothers and sisters be edified?
     Will it cause others to stumble?

     Now back to the quote--- "You are responsible for what others think of you"…  Doesn't it ring a bell at all? "I am responsible for my rose."

     Do you remember who said that? Well yes, it's the Little Prince! I find it very  interesting that the Little Prince himself made a big deal talking about his responsibility to his rose. More so that "love and responsibility for one another" is the central theme of his story. Very relevant, don't you think?                               
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exploring the art of photo editing

     Hello everyone! Nice to stay home on a Wednesday (that's yesterday, a national holiday in the Philippines in commemoration of the birth of Andres Bonifacio, one of our national heroes). Yesterday, while browsing the Net, I incidentally explored the art of photo editing using free online photo editors. I have been so used to edit photos and do picture collage using Picasa but today I had a chance to use piZap, FotoFlexer, Photo Frames, Phixr and Paint.NET.
     After taking on the challenge, here are some of my creations... 


piZap

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dream Come True

Happy Saturday everyone! Why so happy? It's because I got my first blog article in Crochet Spot! Crochet Spot is a site that talks about how to crochet and where you can find simply "funtastic" crochet patterns to work with. Founded by Rachel Choi, the goal of Crochet Spot is to provide easy to follow tutorials and crochet patterns.

Now, you may click on this link to read an article I submitted as guest writer at Crochet Spot. The post is entitled, "From Umbrellas to Rainbows".

Featured at CrochetSpot.com

See you again soon! :)
 

"Yet after brick and steel and stone are gone,

and flesh and blood are dust, the dream lives on."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Marly, Betty and Me: Confessions in the Oven Chamber

     Sorry, this is not about the world's worst dog in the movie, "Marley and Me" which stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston with their family dog. Take note, it's Marly, a former nursing colleague who used to work in the same cardiac center where I work for 28 years now. Actually, I call her Ma'am Marly because she used to be a Nurse Supervisor and some (just don't know exactly how many) years  my senior, but I decided to drop the "Ma'am" in this post. Marly now works and lives with her family in California, USA. She left the Philippines about 25 years ago. Marly and I just got ourselves reconnected a few months ago through a social network and since then, we have discovered that we share something in common---our love for crochet. But no, I will not talk about crochet. I mean, not for now (though I really plan to post something about her crochet works another time).

     So, if not crochet, what's it gonna be? Well, it's about the banana bread Marly baked for her family, photos of which she posted on her wall and shared with me several weeks ago. Hmmm... I like them fresh from her oven. The color and luster are so inviting! Look at these… I could only imagine how her kitchen smelled when she took these pictures!


   See...mouthwatering, aren't they?




      So, without any hesitation,  I asked Marly for the recipe which she readily and gladly shared with me.Here it is.
========================
Marly's banana bread recipe:
1/2c oil
1 1/3c sugar
1 1/2c flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3c buttermilk
3-4 very ripe bananas
1c walnut chopped
1/2c raisins

Cream oil and sugar, add eggs and salt and mix.
Add flour and baking soda combined with buttermilk alternately.
Add bananas.
Fold in nuts and raisins.
Grease regular loaf pans; pour in mixture.
Bake approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
When bread leaves sides of pan and toothpick comes out clean, bread is done.
The recipe can be doubled. Makes 2 loaves.
Sour cream maybe substituted for the buttermilk.
============================
      I hardly had any sleep in excitement to try the recipe myself. It was my first time to bake banana bread without the usual Banana Cake Premix which I couldn't  find anymore in the nearby grocery store. I made some modifications in Marly's recipe though. First, I substituted buttermilk with fresh milk-vinegar concoction. Second, I used prunes instead of raisins. And third, sad to admit, I forgot to add nuts. :(

     Here, take a look at my finished product. I hate to confess, I was disappointed it didn't look exactly like any of Marly's baked goodies (that's the name of her album). It's because I used brown instead of white sugar as I had none left at that time. Anyway I thought brown sugar would be more healthy.  I was able to make three loaves.

 
     Oh, please, don't be deceived by its color because I tell you, it really tasted good! My husband liked it, too! And I didn't doubt him when he said so! My own taste buds couldn't deceive me. I told Marly I just kept myself from eating most of it. 

 
     I was so inspired by the taste of Marly's banana bread that I planned to give it another try (as they, and Marly did say, "practice makes perfect"), but this time, using Betty Crocker's banana bread recipe. 


Look at the result! Betty Crocker's banana bread side-by-side with mine.

   
     Hmmm… if only not for the uneven top layer giving it a rough finish... okay, I'm sorry, I didn't spread the batter evenly into the loaf pan, resulting in a bumpy appearance, a rugged terrain? Ouch! (Ssshhhh… it seems nobody noticed when I shared a whole loaf with my colleagues during a meeting.) That could have been due to any of these:
      Miscalculation in measurement. Too much baking soda or baking powder - maybe. Not enough liquid - could be. Not beating the butter and sugar together long enough - another possibility.  Or the oven temperature was too low.1
     Well, I have a strong hunch that it was not because of low temperature. On the contrary, I believe it's the opposite.  If the cake is dry, it could be possibly due to: too much flour or leavening (baking soda/baking powder), not using enough shortening or sugar, or the cake was over-baked (the oven temperature was too high and/or the baking time was too long).2

 That's it! The baking time was most likely the culprit. That's another confession I have to make... I forgot to remove the loaf pans from the oven right away...multitasking, tsk, tsk. The cooked bread absorbed the excess heat eating up the moisture all the while the loaf pans stayed in the oven and must have reduced the softness and luster. 

Flop! Goes my adrenaline as it came crashing down. The excitement has fallen to ground zero, but it has given me another reason to take on another challenge. Well, I believe that's one good thing in life. There's just so much room for improvement to master the craft. As a matter of fact, as I write this, my hands are again aching to give it one, two, and many more tries? Of course, I would certainly post my next banana bread experiment. And whichever recipe I use, it's meant to smell and spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S! Meanwhile, bon appetit!
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Linking to:
Fluster Buster

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Does it really run in the blood?


      Hi there! After posting about cooking and gardening as my introductory posts for the past weeks, this time, I'm sharing about another love of my life...crochet.
      Twenty-one years of being a wife and mother not only made me close to cooking but also brought me back to crocheting, a hobby I had in my teens. I taught my two daughters how to crochet when they were in grade school but only the younger one prospered in the craft. Well, today, I can say that she has grown so much in terms of speed and tension and I admire her work. 
        So here, let me show you some of her own creations. 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The birth of a hobby

     Hello, it's been a week since I created this site. Last week, I posted about cooking. This time, I'd like to talk about how I became interested with plants.

      When I was a child, my mother used to grow a lot of crotons and flowering plants around our house while my father and grandmother had their own vegetable gardens. I used to water the plants from our deep well but I never really learned to keep my own plants until eight years ago when I had to take my parents from my hometown to live with my family in the city. Unlike Noah who brought along male and female animals into the ark, I had to pack some cuttings and seedlings which we carried with us, with the thought that bringing along her plants would not make it very difficult for my 79 year-old mother to adjust to city life.   The fondness to gardening came as a surprise only when I discovered that, like her, all the cuttings and seedlings I planted would grow easily without any hassle.  And that's how gardening came about as a hobby… my hobby. 

      I did some research on crotons and learned that what we had are called Codiaeum Variegatum Pictum (Croton Petra or "Autumn Plant"), the most popular croton variety among indoor and outdoor ornamental plants. They are evergreen shrubs that can grow up to 10 -12 feet tall.
Codiaeum variegatum pictum petra croton (Source: Google)
      Take note of the rainbow-colored leaves. They all look very nice together. I grew up with these plants around our house in my hometown.
     I wish I could share about the plants I have in my coming posts.
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Linking to:
Fluster Buster

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Of grills and thrills...

Cooking reflects our relationship with God. The more you immerse yourself into it, the more you learn and discover exciting new ways of perfecting the craft. The better the outcome, the more you desire to share it with loved ones and friends.

That's how it is with God... the more you spend time with Him, the more you get to know Him, His nature, and you discover His will in your life. The closer you become and the more truth you learn about Him, the more you desire to share with others.

 Have a great day!!!

Once upon a blog spot

How this blog spot came about---

My eldest daughter is a blogger. Once in a while I would take a peep at her blogs and I'm amazed at how she manages to talk---errr, write about the details of various products she would buy and use. By the way, she's a registered chemist who blogs about beauty, make-up, skin care, fashion and food, loves everything pink and girly, and claims she's the type who allegedly wants to shop a lot without spending a lot. To contact her, you may email her at codenameaya@gmail.com.

Now back to what I was saying, I get so amazed at how she would write about the nitty-gritty of what she likes or doesn't like in a particular product. The first time I read her blog, I said to myself, "She's got what I like---writing out herself into the open, into the world!"

I have a few confessions to make about this. First, I must admit I was a bit surprised at how greatly she has improved her writing skills compared to when she was in high school. Second, I also admit I like her style---very spontaneous? Third, I admit my love for writing gradually resurrected back. And so, I thought of how I would be able to create my own blog spot---one that would reflect the real me with all the things I like in life.

And so I asked my daughter to help me create this space in the Net. What is it going to be called? "Kusinadome,"  My Queendom in the Kitchen," "Crochet Garden," "Crochet and Cuisine in the Garden," "Jardinera, et al,"  "Ganchillo.com,"  "Escribo y ganchillo en la cusina" were titles that came to mind as I wanted one that would reflect my passion in cooking and crochet, my love for plants and writing. Why a tinge of Spanish? I thought having a Spanish title would create a traditional yet aristocratic impression and style.

Finally, I thought of "Garden Chef’s Needle and Pen" which I believe projects a perfect blend of my hobbies all in one spot. So here, I can write and share about my cooking experience, my crochet projects, gardening blues, lessons I've learned from day-to-day, including my own spiritual journey.