Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lighten up!

Hello y'all! To my fellow USA'ers, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving....to everyone else, I hope you had a great Thursday...at work. Hee! I LOVE to cook and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love waking up in the morning with my game plan ready- knowing which dish to start cooking first to ensure everything comes together by 1:00pm. This year, I clocked in at 12:54- whew! Just made it with 6 minutes to get myself cleaned up before our guests arrived. Thankfully, they were a little late since I have yet to perfect my Wonder Woman spinning change technique.

I know how difficult it is to resist stuffing yourself to the brim with all the delicious Thanksgiving fare. I love to cook because I love to eat! However, the nutritionally educated side of me does always kick in- I do have to practice what I preach! So, for each dish, I do try to lighten it up as much as I can without sacrificing taste. One of the places I turn to to new recipes is Cooking Light. I have been subscribing to that magazine for about 8 years now- I love their recipes and I love that they provide nutrition information for everything! I have made their Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole since I first saw the recipe 6 years ago. It's one of my husband's favorite dishes and I get requests for the recipe every time I serve it to others. Phenomenal!

One of my favorite dishes has always been Pumpkin Pie- I.LOVE.IT. I use Libby's canned 100% pumpkin- I love that they don't add any salt or sugar- it's just pure pumpkin. I also use their traditional Pumpkin Pie recipe from their cans- with a few tweaks. I use Evaporated SKIM milk instead of evaporated whole milk. Also, instead of sugar, I use Splenda. I do tend to swap Splenda for sugar for most things I bake. Splenda will prevent proper rising of baked goods, so I will sometimes use half sugar half Splenda if the dish didn't rise sufficiently the first time around. I like that Splenda has zero calories, can be swapped equally for sugar (no conversions needed) and tastes almost exactly like sugar. I don't like it in my coffee because I can taste the difference- I do love it in my oatmeal, though.

Just by swapping out those 2 ingredients, I save a whopping 95 calories PER SLICE of pie! The regular Libby's pie has 250 calories per slice. My lightened version- 155!! (I use a plain ol' frozen pie crust....though I like making things from scratch, I do take few selected short cuts...so sue me.) Since I didn't know if my guests would balk at a "diet" pie, I made one regular pie (with the skim milk, though- 224 calories per slice) and one "diet" pie. I had my guests do a taste test and they could not tell the difference between the "real" pie and the "diet" pie. Their waistlines, however, could.

Nutritional breakdown per slice of pie (for standard 9" pie crust, 8 slices per pie):

155 calories
6.5 g protein
6.3 g fat
18 g carbohydrate
1.5 g fiber
162 mg calcium
11,991 IU vit. A (almost 3 times the daily recommend value!)

To shave off 5 grams of fat and 45 calories, eat the pie filling and not the crust....though a tasty crust is part of the Pumpkin Pie experience...

This is just one of the ways I lighten up my Thanksgiving meal. Even though most of my dishes aren't as calorific as their traditional counterparts, I do have to employ portion control- too much food- even "lite" food- is not good dietary practice.

Well, it's just about lunch time for me- time to bring out all the tasty leftovers and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankfully blessed

Thank you Lord
for blessings bestowed upon me
for blessings I do not even see
for a roof over my head
for a warm and welcoming bed

Thank you Lord
for blessings untold
for my family to lovingly hold
for abundant food upon my table
for giving me strength when I am not able

Thank you Lord
for seeing me through
for touching me when I cannot touch You
for always supplying my needs
for forgiving my unforgivable deeds

Thank you Lord
for knowing what's best
for supplying my soul's much needed rest
for loving me through and through
for being wholly, lovingly You

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hilda Bag Redux

I.LOVE.THIS.BAG

Hilda bag

If you recall, this is the purse I made for my mother for her birthday present. I have gotten so much positive feedback on this bag, I decided to recreate it. The one I made for my mom was one of the first ones I created and I hadn't decided to line them yet. My mother's actually has felted pockets that are part of the fabric of the bag.

This one...is lined.

Hilda bag interior

I wish you could see this lining in person- there is actually shiny, metalic, sliver stripes in it. It's actually VERY beautiful. I told my mom that she could send her bag back to me and I'd line it for her, but she loves it so much, and uses it all the time, that she doesn't want me to. I wonder if she'd change her mind if she saw this one?

Hilda bag pose

No Netski....this one still isn't for you....though you do look mighty fierce with it!

.....and Old Trash

Now, here comes the "Old Trash" portion of the blog.

I HATE MY SEWING MACHINE. My husband bought it for me for Christmas last year. We went to Joann's together and he let me choose the one I wanted to ensure it was a good one. HA! I should have done so much more research (or any at all...) prior to that trip. My mother has a Singer machine and I knew that it had a good reputation. Hers is a work horse- it was like 25 years old and she sewed everything with it- now mind you this was 20 years ago....she STILL uses it! That sucker is about 50 years old and it's still running strong. So, of course, I thought it was a no brainer- just chuck whichever Singer machine off the shelf and into my cart and I'll be merrily stitching along well into my golden years.

NO. SUCH. LUCK. My relationship with this p.o.shaving cream began a couple of months after Christmas. First mistake....the warranty is only good for 90 days...a fact that bit me in the butt while I was working on the Chocolate Strawberry bag....but I get ahead of myself. I bought a ton of patterns at Joanns that were on sale for a buck. I chose one that I absolutely loved since I saw the example on the mannequin in the store. However, since I haven't sewn since I was just a wee jumping bean, I decided to practice on some old fabric...my hubby's bed sheets from college. (As an aside, my hubby is fastidious when it comes to taking care of his stuff...his bedsheets, though over 15 years old, were barely beginning to fade. No, we hadn't used them in 10 years, but you get the idea.) I was very pleased with the final outcome, though it came through so much anger, strife, tears, and screams at that machine. For some reason, my machine loves to gobble up the thread from under the feet and then leave me with a nice, huge, tangled bow which I have to spend hours ripping out before trying again. I took it back to the store and they said, "Operator error." I wasn't making sure the needle was ALLLLL the way up before removing my work and cutting the thread, so it was pulling a ton of thread from the bobbin.

Ok, so I can admit when I'm wrong...I was wrong to buy a machine that doesn't have the automatic needle raise function. ARGH. So, fast forward a few months...I've now got a handle on raising the needle to ensure there aren't any more tangles (though, it does still happen from time to time...even when I do make sure the needle is up....the thing is possesed I tell you.) So, I was working on the Netski bag- remember the nice detailed stitching on the handles and interior? Well, I've loved it so much that I've incorporated it into every bag that has a plain fabric for lining. However, I didn't want to just have the same stitches over and over again. That's when the other shoe dropped- there are over 30 decorative stitches available on my machine....only 5 work. ARRRRRGHHHH!!

Through no character flaw of my own, I decided to wait before calling the store to see if they could fix it. You know, in case it decided to say, "Oh! I'm so sorry I've been causing you so much grief Gege! Poof!" and spontaneously fix itself. Sooo...I was working on the Chocolate Strawberry bag and I was using the same stitch I'd been using on all the previous bags. And then I noticed...the darn stitch wasn't working anymore. !!!!!!

I called Joanns...they told me that they just sell the machines....they don't fix the machines. So I'd have to send it back to Singer. I called Singer....they told me that my 90 day warranty was up, so tough cookies. I called a local sewing machine company....they'd fix my machine for free...IF...I had bought it from them. Otherwise, it's $90. NINETY DOLLARS. Pfft- whatever queers. I'm going to utilize the same stitching as long as I can and put that 90 bucks towards a better machine. I took out the needle and tried reinsterting it...maybe it got loose and that's why my ol' faithful stitch wasn't working. That did seem to do the trick, but only for that one stitch. none of the others work still.

Sooo.....now you'll see the same decorative stitch on all my bags. I guess it's a trademark. ;)

Ok- rant off...hopefully I'll get a shiny new machine this Christmas, right honey? Honey? Bueller?

New Beginnings......

Whew! What a day! I have finally taken pictures of the finished PGP purse, the new Chocolate Strawberry purse, and the Hilda Bag Redux.

First up, it's the newly finished (or shall I say FINALLY finished) Purple, Green, Pink (PGP) purse.

To jog your memory, this is it before in it's unlined, unadorned glory:

PGP purse size perspective

This is it now!
PGP final

Here's a shot of the interior:
PGP interior final

I found the flower pin at Walmart- it was like one of those romantic moments in movies where the two lovers eyes meet and time slows down and you hear Romeo and Juliet's Overture playing it's sweet love tune (or Bugs Bunny, dressed as a girl, any time he meets a mustachioed man...). I knew EXACTLY what it was destined to be. The pink and purple flower match the bag perfectly. I've always liked this bag, but it always seemed like something was missing....and not just the lining. The lining- how awesome is that fabric??? I actually bought it at the same time I bought the lining for the Erin Bag. It's from the same company and I bought it at Joanns. So, you can see that I've had the fabric for a while and yet, through no character flaw of my own, proceeded to procrastinate lining this bag for way over a month. (You may see that statement many times throughout this blog....)

Now, it will proudly adorn my arm as a self-advertisment of the Gege Crochet line of bags.
PGP action

The second bag to present to you is the Chocolate Strawberry bag.

Chocolate Strawberry

My dear hubby actually named this one since it reminded him of, what else, chocolate covered strawberries. My sister loves this bag, as well. The heart button is almost the same as the one on the Queen of Hearts bag, but this one is actually tinted pink (you can't really tell in the picture.)

Here's the interior- I carried the chocolate/strawberries into the lining, as well.
Chocolate Strawberry interior

The pink fabric was left over from a dress I started making (cough*5monthsago*cough) but, through no character flaw of my own, have procrastinated in finishing it. BUT, I did finish this bag and the fabric fits perfectly.

Now, time for the rant....it's too long, so it'll be it's own posting.....see you on the other side....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

To be totally awesome, or not to be totally awesome...

....that is the question.

koopa coin purse, company gal

The answer...I AM TOTALLY AWESOME! (Said with the utmost humility.) This is the unveiling of my "Newest Project" from below. I have been so giddy with this purse.

Let me give you a tour of it's awesomeness....

this is the front:
koopa coin purse front

This is the back:
koopa coin purse back

I know you can see the strap, but let me just point it out to you...
koopa coin purse side

ACK! How cool is that??? For those of you out there who may be a little slow, (what? moi? condescending??) THE COINS ARE COMING OUT OF THE QUESTION BLOCK AND THEN LEAVING IT EMPTY!!! *Insert kitty Yzma cackle, yet again*

It took for freakin' EVAH to complete...though it was due to my over thinking of the construction rather than the actual difficulty of the project. I knew how I wanted to do the front, back, and strap, but I couldn't decide how to actually make it into a purse. The answer was absurdly simple, so when I make this again (oh yes, it will be mine), it will go ever so much more smoothly. It is, of course, crocheted and then felted. I was very pleasantly surprised at how large it ended up. You never know with felting. I was so afraid that I put in so much effort into this Koopa Coin purse, just to end up with, well, a coin purse.

I did line this bag...as well as the strap.
koopa coin purse interior

It is actually the bag I used for the upcoming video tutorial on how-to-line-felted-bags. Hopefully I'll have that up over the weekend...since my hubby is the editor, we have to wait for his timetable.

Here is my parting shot...I love how the bag fits in with the artistic composition...BIG QUESTION MARK: who is this girl? where is she going? where did she get that TOTALLY AWESOME BAG????

koopa coin purse in action

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How Many Cups of Sugar Does it Take to Get to the Moon?

Seriously, how many cups??? Ahhh....the philosophical debates in that educational classic, A Goofy Movie. Although, I'm really more interested in, "How many hours of crochet does it take to lose all my fingers?" Seriously...wow...I've been going pretty much non-stop for about a week getting things ready. "Ready for what?" you ask with bated breath. Ready for this blog...for my etsy shop...for a show and tell with a boutique...and for a video tutorial. Whew! I have just now, not 5 minutes ago, FINALLY finished a bag (a beautiful one, if I do say so myself), lining and all. I'll hopefully take pictures tomorrow to share with the world.

Last Monday, I started filming the video tutorial on how to line a felted bag. It is seriously so much easier to be the "talent" in a video rather than the writer, director, cinematographer, AND talent all rolled up into one. Luckily, my dear hubby will be the editor. He's good at that stuff. I really am crossing my fingers that it'll be what I've envisioned in my mind...especially since I've gotten my Emmy speech all written out.

Tuesday, I finished with my "secret project" and will be taking pics soon.

Friday morning, I FINALLY finished the PGP bag. I've decided to keep this one as my own. I'll have pictures up tomorrow. I really love it- the lining fabric is fabulous and the little decorative bobble thingy is PERFECT!

Saturday evening, I had a marathon crochet session and finished a whole bag in just about one sitting while watching LOTR: Two Towers. LOVE LOVE LOVE the LOTR trilogy. "Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without his Rudy." Sniff sniff...

Sunday I started yet another bag and finished it today. It is now felting (along with Saturday's efforts) at this very moment. My poor little hands really do need a rest. Not only did I seriously give my fingers and wrists a workout with all the crocheting, but I also think that I've found my ultimate favorite pin cushion....my left thumb. I'm ashamed to let people see it- they might think I have some sort of mutant skin disorder or that I harbor hatred against my digits....a phalangeal vendetta if you will. (Ha! I'm so using that phrase in real life!) Anywho...I really put a rush on these two bags, as well as the one I just finished today, because Thursday I am going to be visiting a boutique that many folks have encouraged me to check out. Apparently this place sells unique bags and my stuff would fit right in. Soooo....I'm going to really have to put the pedal to the metal on my sewing machine tomorrow and Wednesday. Yipes. I can use lots of prayers for this!

Oh yeah. And I hate my sewing machine. I've promised a rant on that machine that cannot be named and I'll deliver one, along with the pics of today's purse.

So, until manana my little hobbits. Sleep well and may the force be with you. (Dang! I keep getting all my references mixed up...darn phalangeal vendetta.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mario Scarf and other Nintendo addictions

Ok. I have a confession to make. I am obsessed with Nintendo- Super Mario Bros. specifically. It stems from my childhood when we just couldn't afford to buy a Nintendo when the rest of the world was at home cozily warping their brains and wasting away their thumbs to their heart's content. My obsession runs deep and goes to dark places.....I would even try to get my friends to invite me to spend the night...IF...they had a Nintendo. That way, while everyone was asleep, I could play that 8-bit slice of heaven until the wee hours of the morning. I was like a junkie and just needed a video game hit so bad that I was just so jazzed when we got a hand-me-down Atari when our friends no longer needed it. Although, it was a little tough knowing we were getting our jollies playing Enduro while everyone else had moved on to Excite Bike. Though, when Super Nintendo came out, we were finally able to get our paws on our friend's slightly used Nintendo- with about 20 games and a bunch of accessories all for 100 bucks. Oh yes- my dreams had finally come true.

My brother and I would play SMB (1, 2, and 3- though 1 and 3 were my favorites) for hours upon hours. Thankfully we had always been very (hyper)active kids, so a Saturday here and there spent sitting on our butts didn't add to the childhood obesity epidemic that was beginning to emerge. One of the shining moments in my life was when I beat SMB3 before my brother- oh yes- I was, as my dad called me, the Nintendo Queen. This Nintendo obsession has to be a familial genetic disorder...everyone except my dad can quote Super Mario Bros. the Movie verbatim... it's one of my mom's all-time favorite movies. My mom is cool like that. My dad...? Perhaps my daddy aint my daddy but my daddy don't know??? Well, it's a good theory....until you look at us together....

So now, fast forward to my adulthood...not only can I now afford a Nintendo and of course stalked out a Walmart to snatch up a Wii, I am also able to create Nintendo inspired items. One of which is the Mario scarf.

Mario scarf

I actually made this for my husband- he wanted a hat with a Mario on it (see why I love him??) but, since I had only been crocheting for a couple of months, I couldn't quite get it to work. I taught myself to crochet last summer and this was one of the first things that I created. He loves it and gets numerous comments on it- of course my heart swells with pride.

I'll be adding more pictures of the scarf being modeled in the next few days. It goes along perfectly with my "newest project" from below.

secret project......

I've also been working on a Mario blanket for my hubby. It is easily the most awesome thing I have ever created and I.CANNOT.WAIT until I complete it. It will take a verrrry long time (I tend to be a perfectionist and really enjoy challenging myself). Here is a teaser of what's to come.

beginnings of an adventure

Alright- I'll leave you now...I have a princess to save!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Queen of Hearts

Here is the newest addition to the Gege line. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my supreme honor to present to you Her Royal Highness, The Queen of Hearts.

Queen of Hearts

When I first saw this purse fully felted out of the washer, the first thing that popped into my head was, "Ugh! Wet wool stinks!" The second thing that popped into my head was, "The Queen of Hearts!"

I call this photo, "Off with her head!"

Queen of Hearts 3

The Queen of Hearts,
She made some tarts
All on a summer's day.

The Knave of Hearts,
He stole the tarts
And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts,
Called for the tarts
And beat the Knave full sore.

The Knave of Hearts,
Brought back the tarts
And vowed he'd steal no more.


Here are the detail shots of the interior:

Queen of Hearts interior

And the handles:

Queen of Hearts detail

I must admit, I LOVE this bag. This is another one where I vow I'll make myself the same one just to have for myself. However, until that time, this is now available in my Etsy store here.

Now, be off with ye or just off with your head!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Winter watermelons are the best!

Ah yes...summertime... Bright sunny days, everything's in bloom, and you just want to enjoy a nice, cool, juicy slice of watermelon. The refreshing juice bursting in your mouth and dribbling down your chin... the firm red flesh satisfying both your hunger and your thirst....the awesome spitting contests you totally win each and every time (and sometimes even using watermelon seeds!). Awww yeah....watermelons are the best.

This set was made for my sis. We saw a bowl (it might have been felted, actually...I don't remember) that looked like a watermelon and she wanted to know if I could make her a hat like that. I, being ever so humble, said, "Pshaw silly girl! But of course I can! I can do anything!" And then I proceeded to cackle like kitty-Yzma on Emperor's New Groove. ("And then when I turn into myself, I am going to kill you! Hhahahahahahahaha!")

Ahem....back to the watermelons.....I then had to think of how to make a watermelon hat, with the seeds, and make it look different than other crocheted hats. I love the creative process. :) Once I figured it out, I decided I couldn't just make her a hat and not have a scarf to go with it, now could I?

Watermelon hat and scarf set


Here are details of both the hat and scarf:

Watermelon hat detail Watermelon scarf detail

And, of course some ACTION SHOTS!! POW POW!

Watermelon hat and scarf set

Watermelon hat and scarf set

Since a couple of my sister's coworkers fell in love with them and her scarf has been fawned over since she started wearing it, I think I'm going to make these available on my etsy store (a different set, of course...my sis is pretty much in love with hers. I actually want a set for myself...why do I always make other people the nice things??? I've yet to make myself a purse!). I think both the finished objects and quite possibly the patterns.... I'm not sure yet...I've never written a pattern before. We'll see...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lilly's Daisy Apron

I crocheted this apron for a movie I filmed this summer. It's called, "Lilly's Thorn" and I played Lilly. My first ever starring role! Yes Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close up!

Crochet Apron

Lilly is a flower shop owner, so when I saw this apron, I thought, "That would be absolutely PERFECT for Lilly!" But, the director didn't like pink for the camera. Oh poo. (Considering I spent the most amount of time in a very pink shirt for the shoot, I guess having a pink apron would be a little overkill.) He preferred her to have a green apron, so this is what I came up with. The green and white stripes actually are from a self striping cotton from Lily Sugar and Cream- aww yeah- see how I even incorporated my character's name into the very yarn I used?? I am just THAT devoted to my craft(s)! I am a Method actor AND crocheter! Take THAT James Dean!

Here's the flower detail:

crochet apron's flower detail

And, here's an action shot! (from my kitchen...not from the movie....as if the absolutely mind blowing photography didn't give it away.)

Utilizing my apron

Actually, if you go to www.oldvafilms.com and click on "Current Works" and scroll in the photos, you can see a pic of me (as Lilly), and this crocheted apron, in action. YAY!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Newest Project

Here's a sneak peek at my newest project. What will the end product be??? Only the Shadow knows!!! MUAHHAHAHAHAHA!

Summer 2008 117

ok..ahem...now that I got that out of my system... I'll update when this project is complete, as well as, just maybe, perhaps, a video.... Oh baby that's what I like!