Monday, November 28, 2011

Decorating for Christmas

We didn't get to decorate at all for Christmas because we literally moved out of our house on Christmas Eve. So this year, I decided that we were going to decorate right after Thanksgiving and get to enjoy the decorations for as long as possible. My husband will be clamoring to have them packed up shortly after the New, gotta get it in while I can. Besides, we are still struggling to find that "Christmas Feel" down here. Hard to think Christmas when it's 70's and 80's in November! LOL
Some of the fun of decorating is finding all of the old ornaments that have been passed down for years! This teddy bear ornament was made by an Aunt or Grandma. My Dad says that Aunt Margaret made it, but I think this one came with my husband..... I think I remember the one Aunt Margaret made and it was a smaller bear. Anyway, when we picked this one up we all got a little freaked out. When you hold him in the light just right, he has a bit of a "Chuckie" look to him. Last thing we need are possessed toy ornaments stalking us in the night....LOL But really, he looks like he's seen better years. He reminds me of "Big Baby" from Toy Story 3.
So we got the Charlie Brown tree all decorated and put the snowman tree topper on and the top leaned over. Actually, the top section was already leaning because some of the ornaments were to heavy. As you can see, this is a bottom of the line Pamida special picked up in "emergency mode" two years ago because our old tree's lights decided to die. Nevertheless, it is the tree we have and we've all begun to think of it affectionately. The bottom sections lights almost didn't turn on and only half of the middle section. But then somebody moved a branch and Voila! we had lights. LOL...'s all about being grateful for what you DO have instead of worrying about what you don't.
Later, my son thought he saw the tree swaying in the breeze from the ceiling fan. :)
I enlisted the help of the tall hubby to hang up the traditional Indian Toran that my friend Sandhya made for me a few years ago. It is in my front hallway as a greeting to my guests. Tall hubby kept fussing at me about how dangerous it is for him to stand on anything but a ladder. Did he get a ladder? No. He got a kitchen chair, placed it at least a foot out of "reach" and said "see? this is really unsafe". Oh yes, this is the humor I deal with on a daily basis, people. I'm a girl who loves a good laugh, trust me. But, this man thinks he's brilliant. Gotta love him.
If I was more than JUST over 5' tall, I would do a whole lotta things for myself.
After putting up the Charlie Brown tree I realized that I didn't have a tree skirt. As a matter of fact, in all 18-1/2 years of marriage, I've had one tree skirt and it disappeared.....somewhere...??...or wait, did I? I don't think I've ever had a tree skirt! *GASP*
Holy cats. No tree skirt, and I had a whole tote of sparkly Christmas yarn that was beggging to be used!
I went hunting for the perfect skirt. I really like the pattern I settled on. There really weren't that many rows to the whole thing, but with all the increases the last row was 432 stitches and took me over an hour to crochet. I had really had enough at that point. I couldn't stand the thought of 3 more rows, so I cut it short and low and behold it fit perfect. Any longer and it would have been a tripping hazard. Free Pattern Link:
Side Note: Today I decided to start eating better. I cut up an apple and had a yogurt. And a chocolate chip cookie.
There is no sense rushing into these things. Rushed is always wrong. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Day (or Two) Late

I hope all my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'm a day or two late as usual. I enjoyed my Thanksgiving quite a bit. It was nice and peaceful. No family drama, just lots of good food and good conversation! :) Missed my loved ones from back home, but I was very grateful to have extended family to share the day with down here in Florida.
I pray blessings on you all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend at Biz's

Little People
More felted slippers. These are my nephew, Sam's. I used Patons 100% Wool in "Forest".
It has sort of a camo look to it
Liz's slippers. Used Stitch Nation-Full o' Sheep (a Red Heart yarn) in "Orange" (can't remember actual name) and "Passionfruit". Great color palette. Knits and felts wonderfully.
Don't look at my sloppy bathroom counter in the background. or better yet, as Obe Wan says...."these are not the droids you are looking for". Ok, nevermind, I'm being a dork. LOL
You probably wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't said something.....
The Mareno Men dipping chocolate pretzels.....them that works, eats!
Yes, you DO want to make these....and YES, they are worth the effort!! :) We make them every year for the Holidays. They never seem to make it all the way to Christmas. Haha!
Coffee Bonbons- another perennial favorite. :)
I enjoy a couple of these every morning with my cuppa jo.
Go.......Off with you....Bake something...... ;-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Acorn Bag~ Etsy Exclusive

I'm going to have a greedy moment and keep this set and it's patterns for myself and my Etsy business. It started out as a custom "character" order and morphed its way into a full-fledged toy bag set. It was a lot of fun to design. I love every character, but I especially love the way the bag came out. It was a God-design, because I just hooked and hooked and out popped this bag with absolutely no forethought.
Hope you enjoy the pictures and don't hold it against me too hard for not sharing.
The gang
Mr. Bunnykins
Gibby the Hedgehog
Gibby's little feet
Henry Hoppsalot
Steve the Squirrel
Winston the Owl

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Impending Doom

Hello all you happy people....*droopy voice*
In exactly 12 days....I turn 40. Oh yes, I have finally reached that number. I got to thinking, what is waiting for me? I'm about to start the second half of my life. The first half has been really busy. Full of being born, growing up, maturing, marrying, birthing, rearing, schooling.....
I thought once I turned 40, I would be 'ready'...I would 'feel' my age...I wouldn't feel so "UN" put together! LOL So I went looking for a picture to where I'm at now. Maybe those of you with some experience beyond the big 4-oh can help me figure out what's coming next?
I have one question, though. Why were there so many pictures of LeAnn Rimes under "crazy"? LOL
Moving right along....
Right now, this is what I look like many days. Blissfully tripping along without a care in the world...trying to figure out what the heck it was that I had just gotten up to do...
a little edgy...a little crazy...
But, is this what I'm destined for if I don't come out of that crazy stupor?
Does it get better or worse?
Some mornings are better than others. I have been having a touch of insomnia lately. Staying up late, late, late....sleeping until all hours of the morning and still managing to look this cheerful...
Then, I have my coffee and this girl returns.
I get to deal with homeschooling teenagers on a daily basis. I know that I can't really complain because I chose it. But, I'm pretty sure that this sign should be posted somewhere in my house.
The children get up and all the bickering, fighting, whining, poking, prodding, crabbing, instigating, mouthing off, back sassing and constant yammering turn me into this woman in about 5 minutes.
And has me praying for this:
The day finally comes to an end and my amazing hubby comes home from work.
Just his presence in the house feels like this.
Ironically enough, he would probably want to wrestle me for a chocolate bar that big.
Of course, I would "put up a fight"....pssshtt..
Thinking of my husband gets me thinking about how over the last 40 years I have not done my best to take care of my young, girlish figure and I certainly don't represent the girl that I "was". Does turning 40 justify plastic surgery?
Hmm. I think I'll just start eating salads and get on the treadmill....

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

VistaPrint Specials!!

Click on the link if you are looking for awesome prices on business cards and marketing products!!
Vistaprint is running a great sale!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Busy Weekend

I was like a woman obsessed this weekend. I was up late every night because I just had to do one more row, one more section, one more body was insanity, I'm telling you. I feel like I got a lot accomplished. And it was a "chill out" weekend for us...snuggling in the house, watching Christmas movies and football. Perfect time to knit and crochet your little fingers to the bone.
I am S.T.R.U.G.G.L.I.N.G. to get into the Christmas mood. It is 60-70 degrees here every day. The only thing that has turned a color other than green is my yard. And that's only brown because it hasn't rained in a month! lol. Then I talk with family back home and its 21 and snowy there. BUT...regardless of my psychological inability to wrap my head around the impending holidays...I really do know Christmas is coming and I had better get to knitting if I'm going to get those felted slippers done for my nieces and nephews in time!
Here is the 'before' of my niece Emily's slippers. She likes purple and lime green this year. I used Patons 100% Wool. I called them the "elephantitis" slippers. They were just massive. Here's the pattern link: (pattern has directions for adults/kids/toddlers and two different sized cuffs)

I learned a couple of things. I will cast on less for the ankles of the ones for the kids. I am going to have to weave some ribbon at the base of the cuff so she can snug them up when she is wearing them. Her feet are 9" and I cast on the adult pair so that it would be long enough. You learn by your mistakes, though.
The other thing I learned was that I need to make sure I watch them REALLY close when they are felting. At first they weren't shrinking, but I only had one pair of old jeans in there. I threw two more pairs of Tony's work jeans in there and walked away will take a while. Oh Em the time I got back in there, 1 or 2 more minutes and these would have fit a 3 year old. I caught them when they were just a tad under where they needed to be so I spent some time stretching them to the length they needed to be. I stuffed them with balled up plastic bags to hold their shape. Then they dried for a day like that. I took the bags out and let them finish drying another day. They still feel slightly cool to the touch on the that wool takes a long time to dry. They are wonderful all except for the cuffs. I know what I'm going to change on the other kids slippers. The oldest is always the guinea pig...poor thing.
Then, I made some charity toys. I am helping a friend in Georgia, who is dealing with her own cancer, but is determined to bless needy families in her area. I started writing this blog after Stefani completed chemo, but for those of you that were around in the beginning, you may remember that the reason I even started a blog was because I wanted to share the patterns that I wrote for toys for kids. It was my way of paying back all that we were blessed with when Stefani was going through chemotherapy for ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) from 2004-2006. I didn't have money to give, but I did have a talent...and that's what I used. :)
Plus, we are doing a Christmas box for our church and I was thinking of popping a chubby toy in there with the other goodies.
The upcoming pics are Lion Brand free patterns for amigurumi's. They are so cute and so easy to make.....I just can't tell you how fun they are. First up are Pig: and Frog:
I didn't use Wool Ease for these. I used what I had on hand and I think they turned out every bit as cute as the original patterns. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a stickler for toys that I make being "baby safe", so I didn't use buttons for the eyes like they suggested. I just embroidered their little eyes on. My frogs have a tendency to look cross-eyed for some reason. :-/
I used a blue instead of a purple. I like him better like this. Stefani named him "Beaver". Don't ask me what goes through that child's head....just don't.
I am developing a few new pieces to add to my toys in my Etsy store. Up first is Mr. Bunnykins. My daughter just can't get over how big his butt is.....

Next up is Henry Hoppsalot, who strangely resembles P.T. Flea from Disney's "A Bug's Life". Once again, cross-eyed.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cheesy Bacon Potato Chowder~ Original Recipe

Not a great picture....but super hearty and very filling! A wonderful Fall Supper!
Came up with this recipe this week. Was such a huge hit with my family I decided to share it with you. This can very easily be turned gluten free (use a gluten free cream soup). I haven't tried, but I think this could also be altered into a lacto-vegetarian recipe using meat substitutes.
Cheesy Bacon Potato Chowder ~ Original Recipe
Serves about 6-8, 1-1/2 cup servings.
Elizabeth Mareno 2011
1/2 lb bacon- cut into bits
1 cup onion- chopped
2 cups carrots- chopped
3 lbs potatoes- chopped (I didn't peel mine. Use your preference)
4 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 can crm of mushroom or crm of chicken
8oz cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar
salt, pepper, granulated garlic(use sparingly) for seasoning
Cook bacon in soup pot until fat is rendered and pieces are crispy. Remove some for garnish.
Add onion and cook till translucent.
Add chicken broth (a little at first to deglase the pan, beware of the steam).
Add carrots and cream soup, mix well.
Add potato, cook until tender.
Using a manual potato masher, slightly mash carrots and potatoes to thicken soup.
Add cheeses, stir until completely melted.
Garnish with crispy bacon and chives (optional).

Hats and Shawls

Hi all. More finished objects today. I updated my computer, so of course it didn't work right anymore. I glitches have apparently fixed themselves, so we are back to our regularly scheduled programming.
We will start with shawls today.
My Mommy turns 64 on Friday. (I was supposed to be born on her birthday, but I decided to come 2-1/2 weeks late. I was born to disrupt the status quo.) I decided my mumsy needed some shawls. I wanted to make her three, but only had time to make her two before I had to get the box mailed in time for her birthday. I knit one and I crocheted one. I don't love the crocheted one for two reasons. I think I picked a bad colorway and it is too short for true "shawl-ness". Nevertheless, I sent it to her.
That is the link. I can't get my laptop to work with me today. Maybe the glitches aren't fixed?
I made mine with Lion Brand "Jiffy" in #189 Wine. It is an acrylic bulky weight yarn, with a bit of a "fuzz" to it. The technical term eludes me today . I used a size 15 needle. I also added an extra "V" because I wanted to make sure this would be long enough to wrap around her. Thanks Stef for being my model.
This is the crocheted shawl I made. I want to try it again with a different color and adding a repeat or two.
Fabulous Shawl. I used, "I Love That Yarn" from Hobby Lobby. Don't know the colorway. It looks prettier in the skein.
Here we have a new baby hat pattern I have come up with. I will be adding a pom-pom to the top. This is something I will be selling in my Etsy shop. This particular hat is a custom request from a patron, but I will be making more for the shop soon.
Last week I made some hats for my Mom. She is in the frozen tundra and she needs some cute hats. I sent her some links to hats I was interested in making and these are the ones she approved of.
I learned Entrelac, people!! Exciting to say the least. I feel so accomplished! It is a slow moving pattern for sure, but such cute results. It makes you look brilliant. I will admit, I struggled with it at first. My brain almost imploded, but then Shazam! I caught it and we were off to the races.
This particular pattern gives a very sketchy explanation of how many stitches to cast on for the ribbing. I did the whole measurement thing and did the first hat with a cast on of 104. Turned out big. Not "turn it over, add handles and call it a purse" big, but definitely requiring bobby pins to hold it on big. Or big hair, big. The second one I took it down and cast on 96. Still feels a little roomy to me. The next one I will either cast on 90 or 84. We'll see. Btw, I have a 23" head circumference.
This one is: Patons 100% Wool, not sure of colorway. It's a blue, teal, brown, tan mixture.
This one is Debbie Norville "Everyday". It is my NEW acrylic worsted weight favorite. Soft, really great spring and pill-free. Definitely not the "plastic, scratchy" feel of Red Heart SS. JoAnn's had it on sale 2 for $5, so I thought I'd give it a try. It is spendy if you are looking to do an afghan. I believe it sells for $3.99, or something close to that, for a 3.5 oz skein. But it's GREAT for hats and other small projects like that.
The last hat I made Mom was a take on the Brattleboro Hat from Knitting Daily. It is a pattern that is for sale in a book. I wasn't willing to pay $25.00 for a book for one pattern that I was interested in, so I sorta figured it out for myself. This is a terrible picture of me, but I wanted to show you the hat.
I made it from Lion Brand Wool-Ease with size 7 dpns. I, also, had to research how to make decreases while doing a seed stitch in the round. Oy...the things I do for my mother. I did write down the pattern so I could repeat it. However I don't feel right putting it on here because I just copied somebody else's design. Besides, mine is not nearly as "polished" looking as the original. My Mama appreciated it, though. :)
Last, but certainly not least, is the newest 'hat addition' to our house. My love needed to get a second job to take care of this family. He was hired by Domino's to be a rush driver. He went through several weeks of feeling embarrassed about the fact that he had to get a job at Domino's. I, being the tender sweetheart that I am, just could not wrap my brain around what the big deal was. A job is a job. But, for him, it really mattered. He was ashamed. Something clicked last week. He noticed he was not the only late 30's man working there that worked a day job and delivered pizza's at night to make ends meet. God has touched his heart and now he is grateful for this job. *whew* I must say, I thoroughly enjoy his employee discount. :)
Be grateful....Be blessed. :)