2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Burn Through Stash Like Crazy - Weeks 3 & 4

Since I didn't produce a YOP post last week, I'm playing catch-up today.  

Sometime over the past two weeks I finished two more scarves made with a simple rib stitch that's shown in this video.

In both of the scarves below I used the same Red Heart Boutique yarn in the colorway, Heirloom, but combined it with two different colors to see which I liked better:

Combined with Hobby Lobby ILTY in the color, Graphite 

And then combined with a light gray color. 

It's really interesting how a light and dark base color changes the appearance of the colors in the multicolored yarn.   I like both scarves, but I like them differently.  

Jenn asked me a couple of weeks ago how much of the Boutique yarn these scarves take.  For the darker one above, I cast on 29 stitches and made this thing long (about 3 inches above my knees), and I know I used just over a skein of the Boutique yarn (I estimate that I used ~316 yards). 

For the smaller scarf, I cast on 25 stitches and it's not nearly as long (would fit a child or small adult), and I used nearly 90% of a skein (or about 250 yards).

I don't know how helpful that is since yardage could vary depending on a person's gauge, and the size scarf one makes.  But since I was asked, I did want to report what it took for me to make these.


Does this look familiar?:
This is my second Spicier Life Blanket, and it's nearly finished!   It just needs a few ends woven in and then a hard steam blocking before I finish it up with a pretty border.  Next week I should be able to show a finished blanket!  

I will be doing a tally of yarns used once this blanket is finished, and will record it under my 2018 goals since most of the crocheting of it was done this year.   I'm not thinking I'm going hit my 100 skeins goal, but this blanket will certainly bring me closer.  Trying to diminish my stash by 100 skeins of yarn in a year's time was a good challenge for me.  It's totally doable (if I'd just stay focused), so I'm going to challenge myself again.  The challenge will be to surpass diminishing my stash by 100 skeins of yarn in 2019.

I think I can...

To see what other YOPers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  82.46/100 Skeins

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Chocolate Crackles & Moments with Ruth...

Yesterday I was called to work with Ruth and we made some Chocolate Crackle cookies.  

Chocolate Crackles are cookies I've made for years, but have no idea where the recipe came from.  For some reason the recipe rarely gets pulled out of my recipe file except for Christmas time, so I've come to think of them as Christmas cookies.   

So that makes now a perfect time for me to share the recipe!

These cookies are fudgy and pretty enough to be kind of sophisticated, but the powdered sugar makes them fun and playful.  

Truth be told, while I love me some chocolate, I'm not really a chocolate cookie fan, but these are yummy.  Let me rephrase that.  These are melt-in-your-mouth yummy!

When I told Ruth what I had brought to make she didn't look overly interested.  Sympathizing, I asked her if she liked chocolate cookies, and as politely as she could she told me she wasn't really a fan.  I knew trying to convince her with words wasn't worth trying to do, so I didn't.

But I did ask her if she'd like to join me in making some anyway, and she obliged.

Some words of warning:  I added a tad too much water (like maybe 1/2 - 1 tsp too much) and these ended up being very messy to roll into balls, and they flattened more when cooling than they normally do.  While they were still delicious, I recommend following the recipe exactly.  Let me repeat that in case you weren't paying attention...  Follow the recipe exactly.

Get ready to hang onto your hat, 'cuz these are the quickest and easiest cookies you'll ever mix up and bake.

Chocolate Crackles
 ~makes approx. 2 dozen

1 Devils Food cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
1 Tbs. water

Mix all ingredients together (the dough will be thick like cookie dough), roll into balls, then roll balls into powder sugar (coat them well).  Place 2-3 inches apart on cookie sheet.  (3 inches is best)

Bake at 375୦ F for exactly 8 minutes (they will look like they're not quite baked enough).  Pull them out and let sit on cookie sheet for a minute or two (just until you can slip a flipper under them without messing them up).  Transfer cookies to cooling rack or paper towels to finish cooling.


We played some checkers while we waited on the baking cookies.
Ruth was way ahead of me at this point in the game. 

Below is a picture of some Chocolate Crackles  I had made over the weekend, this is how these lovely delectables should look when they're finished:

But even a bit flattened, they were still chewy and delicious.  
And Ruth liked them!   
I wasn't the least bit surprised.  😊


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Burn Through Stash Like Crazy - Week 2

Still working on stash-busting this week, I made more scarves and worked on a few hats.

Working from the instructions on this video, I combined a fairly nondescript dark purple, with multiple left-over colors of Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn and made a squishy, soft adult-sized scarf:
I'm pretty pleased with the results

And inspired by something I saw on Ravelry, I decided to combine white  yarn with Unforgettable Boutique in the colorway, Candied, and made a child-sized scarf:  
 I hope there's a child out there who'll enjoy this, 
because I love this combination.
In fact, I like the combination 
of white combined with the pastel rainbow colors 
much more than I like the original colors by themselves.

And looking for some even quicker finishes, I worked on some hats - finishing one so far:
Pattern:  Divine Hat

And made another Boxes Dishcloth:
Love the texture of this cloth

Check out (at the bottom of this post) my yarn used YTD!  I may get closer to my goal than I thought I could a few weeks ago.  Yippee!

To see what other YOPers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down progress:  80.36/100 Skeins

Friday, December 14, 2018

Little Dresses...

Last year I wrote about being part of a group of ladies who were making dresses for little girls who live in areas where a simple dress (and pants or shorts for a boy) can possibly make a difference in the life of a child.  Read my post here  (and scroll down near the bottom of that post) if you're at all curious about that..

Well, this week, the group was featured in one of our county's news publications:

Southside Boomers, Winter 2018  - page 10 to be exact.

I ended up dropping out of the monthly sewing sessions this past spring because it conflicted with my ESL tutoring schedule, but I'm so excited for the group that they were highlighted and that this ministry received broader exposure.  Not all of the women involved were there the day the photographs were taken, but seeing the ladies and some of the dresses they've recently made truly warms my heart.  

That's all...  Just thought I'd share what crossed my path this week. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

YOP Week 24, Burn Through Stash Like Crazy Week 1

This week I'm hosting a CAL in the Our Happy CAL Place on Ravelry, and I was tickled to find this easy pattern for making a Candy House Coaster:

A super quick project that uses a very small amount of yarn per coaster.  And I just want to note:  What might look like red and white marled yarn above is actually just some size 3 white crochet thread held alongside worsted weight red as I crocheted rounds 3 & 4. 

And I had a larger finish, too.  On a quest to use as much yarn from my stash as I can, it occurred to me that in doubling yarn up I could create a bulky yarn and use twice the yardage of yarn than if I crocheted with a single strand of yarn.  I didn't come up with this idea.  I just remembered it from some other genius who was also trying to use up stash.  

With my "bulky" yarn, I decided to make another of these knitted Ribbed Scarves:

The yarn is Knit Picks Brava Worsted. in the colors Black and Wine. I don't know if it's the yarn, or the thickness of this stitch done on large needles, but this scarf is so squishy soft.    I love this stitch pattern.  

Done on large needles and with bulky yarn, I can make one of these scarves in just 2 or 3 days.   It's a great mindless knit  - though I do find it necessary to check my stitches from time to time.  Checking every row is ideal, but I typically found  myself messing up and not discovering it for a row or two.  I attribute it to falling asleep while knitting - the pattern is that simple.

I like it so much, I immediately started another using some dark purple yarn (a color I wasn't very fond of) and scraps of Boutique Unforgettable yarn (in various colors).  Here's a peek:

I'd like to make another of these, but instead of using scraps of the Boutique Unforgettable, I'd like to use full skeins.  There's just way too much end-weaving going on as I use up scraps.  It's not that I mind end-weaving so much, but at the moment I'm all about using up yarn.  Spending time weaving in ends, is slowing me down from that goal!

To see what other YOPers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  73.76/100 Skeins

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

What's For Supper?

Chicken Carnitas!  Made in my Instant Pot!

This is obviously just the chicken, but the chicken is kind of the main thing...

Disclaimer:  This post is not so much an endorsement for the recipe I used (because I adapted it), but rather it's all about how excited I am to have cooked chicken in my Instant Pot and recognizing what a great tool it is for that purpose.

I sort of followed this recipe at Little Spice Jar, using what I had and not worrying much about what I didn't have.  I didn't have fresh cilantro and I forgot to add dried cilantro where it was called for. I also completely forgot the garlic - and I have plenty of fresh garlic.  Sigh.  I didn't have any chipotle pepper (do not care for chipotle anything), and instead of adobo sauce, I just sprinkled some dry adobo seasoning mix in the dry rub I coated the chicken with before searing.

Also...  to be honest, I didn't sear the chicken in the Instant Pot.  I've successfully seared something once, but since then I've read that searing can cause the Pot to not want to go into pressure mode (or something like that) and the inner pot may have to be cooled before continuing.  I didn't want to waste the time finding out if that might happen on my second searing attempt, so I just seared the chicken breasts in a skillet.

Now for the Chipotle sauce.  I've already said I'm not a chipotle person.  Well...  I'm also not a big fan of mayonnaise.  It was really tempting to just forgo this, but let me encourage anyone who might be interested in trying this recipe but is possibly turned off by this sauce --- try it.  Or try making it in a way that you might like it.  For example...  in place of the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, I just added maybe 2 -3 teaspoons of dry adobo seasoning mix.  And I sprinkled in a little black pepper before whisking.   My verdict after eating a carnita:  the sauce makes this.  Yep.  I, who doesn't particularly care for mayo, said that. Of course, if I'd had chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, I might hate this sauce.  But what I made was mild, and added just the the right amount of flavor for both my and my husband's liking.

The chicken itself wasn't fall down amazing or anything, but it was good.  Of course, if I'd had chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, maybe the chicken would have been amazing.  But that's not what I want to comment on here. 

The more important thing to me is how pumped I am to now have a bunch of shredded chicken to add to other recipes.  Frankly, I'm excited at the thought of making shredded or chopped chicken from now on from chicken cooked in my Instant Pot.  

If I subtract the time spent searing the chicken before cooking, I'm thinking it wouldn't take more than 30 minutes to cook up a batch of chicken (in this case 6 chicken breasts).  But even if it takes longer, I'm okay with that, because I love that I can walk away from my Instant Pot and just let it do its thing.   And it is so much easier and cleaner to cook the chicken in this pot than in the microwave - which is how I usually cook chicken before shredding or chopping it for a recipe. And we won't enumerate how many times I've discovered cold chicken breasts in the microwave in the morning because the night before I walked away to let the microwave do its thing, only to get busy and completely forget about it.  😏 

Happy Cook here - happy to have another success in my Instant Pot experience.  

And browsing the Little Spice Jar website, I'm thinking I'm going to have to try their Garlic Butter Skillet Steak and ShrimpMmmmm

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A little yarny experiment...

Being in a mindset of using up stash - as fast as I can - for the next few weeks (in order to possibly make or at least approach my goal of using up 100 skeins of yarn this year) I picked out yarn I haven't felt impressed with since the day I bought too much of it, and I decided to experiment with it.

I decided to knit and crochet, using different stitches and just see how it pooled.

The results were mildly interesting.  Not interesting enough for me expound (much) on them (and I'm sure there is math involved in the why's and how's of pooling - that I have no brain cells for today), but the different patterns (or non-patterns) that emerged were kind of...  

did I say interesting?

Maybe mildly entertaining is more correct.

So for your entertainment here is the picture show...

Knit with a stockinette stitch (with a garter stitch border):

Then I think I increased the whole thing by 3 or  4 or 5 stitches and this is what resulted:

Taking a break from knitting, I crocheted this dense stitch pattern:

Then I remembered I wanted to do a round cloth.  Variegated yarns sometimes create a more interesting "pattern" when crocheted in the round than when crocheted in lines, back and forth.  So I made one of my favorite round dishcloths:
Eh...  Not as interesting as I had hoped.   Ah well..

Then I decided to make a slightly more open cloth (I'll write this pattern down one of these days and share it here):  
While one might be hard pressed to actually call the one above pretty, I like the slightly random, sort of diagonal thing that's going on here.

So I made another one, and this is what I got:

I used the exact same number of starting stitches (as the one above the one above), but the yarn may have been a different dye lot; and I probably started in a different place in the color layout, but I was surprised to get something resembling the start of an argyle pattern on the second time with the same pattern.   Argyles are interesting and entertaining when they show up in crocheting variegated yarn, but I prefer the slight randomness of the one above the one above.

Then ready to knit again, I knit one up in garter stitch:
The only thing I find interesting about this is that knitting a variegated yarn in garter stitch mutes the colors.  I can totally see how that happens with the way the stitches lay on top of each other, but this was not something I had ever considered.  Totally worth knitting this up to to learn that first hand.

And finally, starting to tire of the experiment (and the yarn), and wanting to be done already, I decided to make an easy cloth in crocheted linen stitch:
I see I'm going to get something reminiscent of argyle again.  No surprise there with this stitch pattern, but to get the argyle to show up in the middle of the cloth???  That was a happy happenstance.  In other words, I could not have made that happen if I'd tried.

Sooo...  there you have it.  While it's fun to pretend this was a useful experiment, mostly it was just an exercise in using up some yarn and now I have some Christmas-y dishcloths to use this December.  

Another more satisfying finish was this autumn-colored scarf:

Made with Lion Brand Unique yarn in the colorway, Harvest

I originally thought I hadn't used a pattern (and technically, I didn't), but I got to thinking it was awfully familiar.  And then it dawned on me...  It's actually the same pattern as the Ribbed Pom Pom scarves I made a month or so ago.  Super easy pattern.  Works well with bulky or worsted yarns.  And looks equally good pommed or not.

And that's it from me!   To see what other YOPers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  68.46/100 Skeins

Friday, November 30, 2018

What I'm reading at the moment...

Posting about my bookmarks yesterday (and seeing Sam's book reviews for this week), made me think I'd share what I'm reading right now.

I routinely have several books going at any given time.  They get laid down and picked up whenever I come across them again.  Some books get laid aside so long I forget the story line.  I'm not sure when I developed this habit, but I don't recommend it.  

While the above is true, I also often I find myself absorbed in one good book that keeps my attention, and at the moment that book is Light in the Darkness by Lynn Austin.

Lynn Austin is a Christian Fiction writer and I've yet to read a book of hers I didn't like.  The characters in her books discuss faith without being preachy.  The characters are real - very much works in process like all of us.  Candle in the Darkness is Book 1 (of a series of books that take place during the Civil War era.  The protagonist in this first book is the daughter of a slave owner, and she comes to an understanding (through learning about the personal lives of her family's slaves) that slavery is wrong, but coming to a full understanding of its evil is a process.  A process that isn't easily understood by our modern sensibilities.    

Looking forward to reading the other two books in the series once I'm finished with the first one.

I've shared earlier this month that I am culling through the over abundance of books in our house.  Well, not only are we book collectors, but  we also collect bookmarks.  Cheap promotional bookmarks, free bookmarks picked up at the library, pretty beaded bookmarks, and bookmarks made of pictures.  Some of our bookmarks are older than the 38 years we've been married!

I keep them in this old wooden tool chest:

In just one drawer of this toolbox (did you think every drawer was filled  with bookmarks?)
I should have put my hand in there and stirred the bookmarks around 
to give a better glimpse of all of them.

While there's never a shortage of nice bookmarks in this house, let me assure you I do a fair amount of scrounging for something to mark my place when I don't have the foresight to get a bookmark before I sit down to read.  I'll make a bookmark of anything that will fit between the pages. Business cards, gum wrapper, receipts, scraps of paper, a stray yarn band, a string of yarn...  

Don't get me wrong.  All of these things make perfectly good place holders in books, and I'd never scoff or moralize over their use. 

But I have to admit there's something about a pretty or clever one, that adds to my pleasure of reading.  A proper bookmark makes me feel settled in.  Committed.   It says, "This book is spoken for."  And I'm much more likely to take seriously a good read than when I don't use one.  

Of course, maybe that's just me...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Artsy magnets & bookmarks...

A week and a half ago I started a project where I was using pictures from old art books to make magnets and bookmarks.  

Here is the post I promised showing the end result.  I don't have pictures of every single magnet or bookmark made, but this is a good representation of the variety of pictures I chose to use.  While this is a photo-heavy post, I'll try to keep the verbiage to a minimum. 

First of all, I cut out lots of pictures (narrowing down what pictures to cut out was the hardest part):

Before laminating, I used a glue stick to glue pretty (or coordinating) decorative paper to the backs of the pictures.  When possible, I also cut out and glued on the reference information for the pictures and artists):
Excuse that everything above is already laminated, I didn't think to take photographs before laminating.

After each picture had backing paper, I laminated everything using an inexpensive laminating machine I bought years ago at Aldi, of all places.   
Note:  I was in Walmart yesterday and I noticed that they sell laminating machines that are comparable to this in the price range of $10.00 - $20.00.  Such machines are cheap, but the laminating sheets are moderately expensive.  I used 3mil thickness laminating sheets, which was perfectly fine for my purposes.  While I was in Walmart, though, I picked up some 5mil sheets - more expensive, but I'm curious how much thicker and stiffer they will make items like this.  We'll see.

After laminating the pictures, I cut them out with scissors, and to the backs of what I wanted to make into magnets, I glued a variety of magnets:

I used round as well as strip magnets, and even cut pieces of magnet from a supply of magnets I've saved that come from all sorts of places, most printed with promotional material:
I do suggest testing the strength of these types of magnets.  I'm afraid at least one of the ones above was pretty weak.  I learned this too late.  It still worked, it was just a bit less strong, magnetically, than the others.

I glued the magnets to the backs of the laminated pictures using E6000 adhesive (purchased once upon a time at Hobby Lobby):

And some of the laminated pictures made terrific bookmarks:

One could punch a hole in the bookmarks and tie a decorative ribbon on, but I like the simplicity of these.  

And that's all there was to it!  Some made their way into the Advent calendar project I made last week, and some I've saved for myself!