Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Crochet Sunflowers

 I have a thing for yarn flowers. Like section on a Pinterest board thing. I think it's my way of coping with the fact that I've never been successful at keeping real flowers alive. I can't trust flowers to respond well to my attention, but I can trust yarn. I took this interest to a new level when I decided that I wanted to make all the "flowers" for my wedding 3 years ago...

That idea sounded amazing until about 200 flowers later plus at least 600 leaves and stems. I still don't regret it as it was something unique and special to our day but I can't say it's something I would recommend to others to do unless you have an unusually high amount of free time to spare (side eyes quarantine...). Each flower eventually took about a half hour from start to finish but originally was closer to 45 - 60 minutes until I really got in the swing.

The supplies and instructions below are for the flowers and stems but you can leave the stems off to use for decorations. Boutonnieres and corsages took a little more trial and error. Y'all let me know if that's something you'd want to see.

  • Inexpensive medium weight dark brown yarn (like Red Heart Super Saver)
  • Medium weight green yarn, dark and light
  • Yellow crochet thread (Aunt Lydia's is perfect)
  • Jump Rings (use various sizes for different flower sizes but not smaller than .75" or bigger than 1.5")
  • Size 5.5 Hook
  • Size 1 Hook
  • Floral wire, 18" pieces
Abbreviations Used
sc - Single Crochet
dc - Double Crochet
tc - Triple Crochet
qc - Quadruple crochet
ss - Slip Stitch

The Sunflowers
1. Start by putting the floral wire through the jump ring to the halfway point and twisting all the way down. Use one of the green yarns and 5.5 hook to crochet up the wire, covering it completely then tucking in the ends.

2. Single crochet in brown with size 5.5 hook around the jump ring, then keep crocheting over the stitches you just made (not in them, over them) until the yarn closes in the center. Be mindful to keep your stitches toward the outside of the ring so it builds out instead of into a ball. Weave in the end. Total number of stitches varies greatly depending on the size of the jump ring. Don't make them tight though - you'll need some space for the petals. 

3. Switch to yellow thread and size 1 hook. Start in any loop on the outside of the flower center you just finished. In each loop in the outside of the flower center: 
ss, sc, dc 2, tc 2, qc 2, tc 2, dc 2, sc, ss (14) 
The loop will likely be crowded but that's what gives the petal shape. Repeat this until all outside loops are complete. 

4. Once you're back at the petal you started on, sc in the top of each stitch around. This isn't absolutely necessary but in my opinion really makes the petals look cleaner and fall into place better. Weave ends and you're done!

It's not hard at all but tedious. I was inspired to use jump rings by another pattern years ago but now I can't find the link or who created it. If that was you - thanks for the inspiration! 

Pictured below: My quality control specialist

The Leaves

1. I used this pattern from Lakeview Cottage Kids for the actual leaf shape and design. Once I made one, instead of tying it off, I crocheted down the length of the 18" floral wire and continued to make another leaf using the same pattern but backwards, so I could fold the wire in half to be the same length as the flower stems. 

2. Once you master making them backwards which is easier than it sounds, you can make them in pairs and attach those to the ends of the wire as well, giving you at least 3 leaves at each wire end. You could attach the additional leaves in the other color green for variety. 

If you're making a Bouquet...

You'll need something in the center to give the flower heads a little space and help them stay flat. This glamorous little cone to the left was a toilet paper role that I cut, rolled into a cone, taped, then double crocheted over quickly so if it became visible it wasn't very noticeable. Then I used small clear rubber bands to assemble the bouquets around the cone until using ribbon to wrap it.

Not counting in the value of time, I was able to make all flowers for about $20 - $30. My bridesmaids kept their bouquets as part of my thank you gifts to them, and many guests asked to take home the lantern centerpieces and other decorations with the flowers. I'm still very happy with them looking back after 3 years. 

Oh, and how fabulous is my Gram's dress from 1958? It was in her basement until I asked about it in 2016. We dry cleaned it a few times and took it for minor repairs (Thanks Monirose Bridal in Madison, WI!) but not a stitch had to be altered to fit perfectly. Gram is the one in the stylish lavender suit. 

What have you or would you make for your wedding? Have you ever started a project that grew into a life of it's own? I'd love to know!


P.S. Special thanks to Polka Dot Productions for the professional photos of the day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Whole 30 Week 1: HOLY COW (Experience and Meal Ideas)

OOPS I live in Georgia now. If you remember from my casual 5 year catch up post, I mentioned we were preparing to leave Wisconsin and somehow it’s already happened! I mean, I wish it was that easy to have moved across the country during a global pandemic, but no one cares to hear about a stressful move. The end result is that we’re here and getting acclimated to our new sunny southern space! 

After packing for weeks and eating largely junk food and takeout during the whole process, Husband and I decided to try the Whole30 meal program for a food reset to get us back on track. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s basically an elimination diet where, for 30 days, you refrain from eating food types that tend to cause negative impacts for people, including dairy, grains, legumes, soy, sugar, and alcohol. During the 30 days, you’re not supposed to weigh yourself or count calories. The point is to listen to the way your body responds to the food and develop trust for your hunger signals. This is a very brief summary but there's lots of research and resources available if you’re interested in undertaking the 30 days. After the 30 days, you slowly start adding back in the eliminated food groups to pay attention to how it makes you feel to decide if you want to continue eating it.

As you can probably imagine, it takes a LOT of planning to make Whole30 compliant meals. On top of that, Husband is super duper picky, especially about vegetables. It’s fine. I’m fine. But it is doable! Knowing how much time and energy it’s taken to create meal plans for us, I thought it might be helpful to share what’s worked for our first week:

A few tips and tools:

  1. Google Sheets is your best friend in this effort. It’s been the most helpful tool to create meal plans, shopping lists, and prep plans.

  2. Use weekly ads and specials to inspire your meal plans. Don’t be like me and go straight to Pinterest, find a bunch of delicious looking recipes, realize it would double your grocery bill, and then start over with a sales first mentality. Whole30 ends up incorporating a lot of protein since grains and legumes are out and that can get expensive quickly. 

    1. I also tried to find recipes that used the same ingredients in multiple different ways to save a little more buying larger quantities.

  3. If possible, move your non-compliant foods to a less visible area of your pantry/fridge/counter. It’ll feel less restrictive if you don’t have to remind yourself what you “can’t have.”

Now to the fun part, the food:

I prepped 3 to 4 meals at a time so having two options to switch during the week kept things interesting. Recipes are linked, although I didn't always use one, or the linked recipe was an inspiration.

And a shopping list:

See anything you might make? What was your experience if you’ve done Whole30 before? I’d love to know!


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Hello Stranger

It’s been a minute...or like 5 years… but I started to receive notifications of comments being left and new followers on my little corner of the internet here. I started going through some old posts and getting nostalgic for the creative outlet and inspiration. I’d love to try to start posting semi-regularly again - she says, lacking confidence. I had started to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of direction and tutorial posts floating around and had felt like there was nothing of value that I could add. I still don’t know that I have much value to add but there’s always room for more encouragement and inspiration, especially in these crazy pandemic times.

A few things while I’ve been gone (A glimpse of things to come):

  1. I got married

Jeff and I got hitched in October of 2017. We’ve been living in Wisconsin for the past few years but are preparing to move on to the next step for us in Georgia, or back to the warm Hint: the flowers in my bouquet pictured here are a few of over a hundred crocheted by yours truly.

  1. We got a dog

Meet Pippy.

She’s a rescue so we don’t know exactly how old she is, maybe 5 or 6, but she’s a hot mess sweet girl. She and Smudge have a tolerant, occasionally sweet relationship. Pippy is completely in love with Jeff and just accepting of my presence. It’s fine, I'm fine *sniff*. Smudge is still my baby. Somehow she’s already 6!

  1. Workin’ on my fitness

I’ve had some health challenges over the past few years that have encouraged me to be more thoughtful and careful about health and fitness. My diet had been okay, but I really struggled with exercising… okay, not so much struggling as just completely avoiding it. In the past 2 or 3 years in particular meal planning and regular exercise have been a big focus that I’m eager to share with others who may have similar feelings and challenges.

  1. Back to school

Once upon a time I thought I had too much free time while Jeff was in residency and I should use the opportunity. Thanks to encouragement and support of the people around me, I decided to get an MBA while still working through the evening program at UW-Madison. I’m ⅔ of the way through the program now and have learned SO MUCH. I’m often the only person in class wearing pink, braids, and/or a cheery floral print and I've learned not to be self-conscious about that.

I think those are the big things! Many things haven’t changed and some things just keep getting better with time. I've got some updating to do around the site of course. It's tough out there right now and we all need a little extra thought-provoking material. What's new with you? What's been inspiring you? I'd love to know :)


Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Sentimental Nature

Y'all. This week has been Stressful. With a capital "S." Balancing work as the largest event of the year draws ever nearer while making sure to keep up with all other responsibilities has lead to me to wake up in a panic at 3 am more than once. I'm terrified of forgetting to do something. Or making a huge mistake the effects the efforts of others. When I woke up at 3 am this morning, the relief that came from knowing I didn't have to wake up for reals in a few hours allowed for some time to gather my thoughts.  I started to look around my room and noticed that all of my favorite pieces of decoration were gifts. My Deer Lodge blanket was a going away gift from my supervisor in Montana. The beautiful green hand-knitted blanket hanging off my headboard was a graduation present from a dear friend. My walls are covered with pictures, paintings, and cross-stitches from people I am lucky enough to call friends and family. Just taking in that thought, and remembering all the other pieces around my apartment with similar origins suddenly calmed me and reminded me that even though times have been stressful in the past there have always been people willing and able to help in some way.  Through action or simply encouragement. And if a mistake was made there was always a way to recover or be forgiven. And then I went back to sleep. 

If you're feeling weighed down by the many things you need to accomplish, personally or professionally, take a minute to look around you and think of all the different people of which your surrounding remind you. Think of how they helped you along the way and how, maybe, hopefully, you helped them as well. Allow it to make you smile. Take a deep breath and remember I'm rooting for you! Just thought I would share that in case someone else has been waking up before the sun :)


Monday, December 15, 2014

Roasted Veggie and Butternut Squash Soup

I seriously considered naming this post "True Life: I'm Addicted to Soup." Once September hits and there is even the slightest breeze in the air I want basically every meal to be in soup form. This addiction lasts until about April when it starts to get a little too warm in South Carolina to pretend the addiction is justified.

Some soup can be great for you...these are not the soups I like. Give me cheesy. Give me creamy. Give me all things gluttonous. #noregrets Until my pants start fitting a little tighter. #alittleregret Then instead of foregoing Christmas cookies and festive coffee I look for ways to cut calories from the things I want to eat anyway. This roasted vegetable soup in the best of all worlds! It's so creamy and savory but FULL of good things. As an added unanticipated bonus, it's vegan, so you can feel better about your choices all around ;)

Roasted Veggie and Butternut Squash Soup

1 Medium Zucchini, cubed
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, cubed
1 Small Sweet Onion, diced
4 Cloves fresh Garlic
1 Medium Butternut Squash, cubed
3 Cups Almond Milk
2 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp Curry Powder
1/2 Tsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Brush a cookie sheet lightly with olive oil and spread your butternut squash cubes over it. Lightly brush olive oil over the cubes and season with salt and pepper before baking at 350 for 45-60 min. Prep another cookie sheet for your Zucchini, sweet potatoes, garlic, and onion. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp of thyme before putting them in the oven at the same time as the squash for only 30 minutes. The fact that both can be cooking at the same time makes it a pretty easy set up.

Once roasted, remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Transfer squash and veggies to a large pot on the stove top set on low. Make sure they are tender enough to mash slightly with a wooden spoon. Add 1 cup of almond milk. Use God's gift to soup lovers (aka an immersion blender) to start pureeing the veggies in with the almond milk. Add more milk as you blend until the creamy texture you're looking for is reached. Add in the rest of the thyme, curry powder, and cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the soup is heated up to the proper temp you're ready for practically guilt free creamy indulgence!

I wish I had carrots on hand to through in. I think that would be a delicious addition. Anything you would add? Do you also need a support group for soup addicts? I'd love to know!

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