Fuzzy Crochet Pillow Cover DIY

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With the snow making it difficult to go anywhere (even down my porch stairs) and a winter seeming like it will never end, I took a critical eye to the odds and ends of fabric and yarn I have laying around and tried to think of something to DIY.

When I was first getting interested in sewing, I was making pillow throw covers like crazy, mostly because they were square shaped and did a lot to brighten up a room. Fast forward five years (or more??) and I still have the same floral fabric covered pillows gracing my couch in severe need of a makeover.

Recently, I got a bunch of fuzzy chenille yarn that I thought would be great for some kind of fuzzy home accessory, like a pillow or throw blanket. The yarn didn’t have much stretch unfortunately, so after knitting a few rows I found it pretty difficult to work with. I decided to get out my hardly used crochet hooks and give that a go. I’m not the biggest crocheter, but I settled on crocheting a removable slip cover for one of my couch pillows.

While it soon became apparent that I didn’t have enough yarn to crochet all the way around the whole pillow, I dug up some fat quarters I had picked up ages ago at the fabric store, and it happened to be just the right size to fill in the back of the pillow. Here’s how it came out:

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As you can see, I added buttons to one edge, so the slipcover is completely removable. The black and white ikat fabric gives it some graphic boldness that stands out against the boring khaki that is our couch. A short tutorial is below.

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1. I began by chaining 55 loops (approximate width of my pillow) and then single crochet and double crochet rows until I had a square the approximate size of the pillow I wanted to cover. Any size hook works for this, but I used an I/9-5.5mm.

2. Next, I pinned the fabric to my crochet square, making sure my desired pillow fit inside first.

3. I sewed 3 of the 4 edges of the crochet piece to the fabric, then continued sewing along the last edge of the fabric to leave a flap that will be the opening for my pillow to fit inside and then fold over to close.

4. I found some buttons that matched the color scheme of the fabric/yarn and positioned four equally spaced along the fabric, then hand-sewed them in place.

5. Next, I single crocheted down the exposed edge of the cover, single crocheting a loop when I approached a button, so that the loops would hold the buttons in place and close the edge over the pillow i was about to put inside.

6. Finishing up, I put the pillow inside and looped all the buttons closed!

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I love combining fabric and knits, and I think this was a great starting project to get more comfortable with my new sewing machine. I also don’t crochet that often, so it was fun to do something different! Since the snow won’t stop coming either, I’m going to have to think of many more DIY projects to do so the cabin fever doesn’t set in.

What’s your favorite indoor activity?

Easy Reversible Unisex Beanie Pattern

With chilly January already here, it’s nice to have a couple warm hats in heavy rotation. I took a look at the ones I wear most, and I realized they are often the most simple, in muted colors that can be paired with almost anything in my closet. I am almost always in the mood to make hats, and while I have more than I can count hanging around the house, my husband had precious few he could just grab and go. That seemed like enough of an excuse for me to cook up another pattern.

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The great things about this hat are that it’s reversible, can be made in almost any color with medium to chunky yarn. It can be customized by adding a pom-pom to the top (or two!) and even made with stripes by alternating contrasting colors (of the same weight yarn) for each 6-row panel of checkerboard stitch. The possibilities are endless!

Materials:

1 Skein Lion Brand Yarns Heartland in Black Canyon*

*alternative: any 5z/142g medium weight yarn of approximately 251yds

1 pair of size US 10 (6.00mm) double pointed needles, or equivalent circular needle (12 inch)

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Abbreviations:

CO= cast on

K2tog= knit two together

P2tog= purl two together

Stitch Guide: Checkerboard Stitch

Rows 1-3: K2, P2

Row 4-6: P2, K2

Repeat Rows 1-6 for pattern

Pattern:

CO 76 Stitches (19 stitches on 4 dpn’s) using the Long Tail Cast On method (Note: if using a circular needle, joining the ends might be tight, but it will fit).

Rows 1-5:  *K1P1,* repeat from * until end (Rib stitch). Continue for 5 rows or until work is 1 inch from CO

Next Row: Begin Checkerboard Stitch

Repeat Rows 1-6 of Checkerboard Pattern six times, or until work measures 8 inches from CO

Decrease:

Row 1: *K2tog, P2tog,* Repeat from * until end (38 sts remaining)

Row 2: *K1, P1,* Repeat from * to end

Row 3: *K2tog,* Repeat from * to end (19 sts remaining)

Row 4: *K2tog* K1. Repeat from * to end (10 sts remaining)

Row 5: Knit. Break yarn and draw through remaining stitches, tie off and weave in ends

I steal his hat to wear once in a while…

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Lemon Currant Scone Recipe

In the mornings when I’m feeling spry and I have time, I thoroughly enjoy making a decadent breakfast. This flies in the face of the healthy eating I try to do during the week, but there is something about weekends that just warrants a little extra fun. I put the coffee on and get cookin…with whatever I still have lying around the refrigerator before the weekly shopping trip. This morning I had some cream, a lemon, one single serving of plain Chobani yogurt, and a few eggs. Hmmm…Scones, anyone?

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These scones came out so delicious and fluffy with just the right amount of sweetness and crunch, that both my husband and I marveled at my culinary success. I can follow a recipe just fine, but this one was one of my own design that wasn’t expected to turn out as delicious as it did. I simply had to share.

2015-01-17 10.57.43I ate mine with estate made honey, hot from the oven. What’s your favorite weekend brunch food?

Lemon Currant Scones:

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 6 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani 0%)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 8 TBSP butter, chilled
  • 1/2-1 cup Dried Currants
  • 2-4 TBSP light cream

Additional tools: parchment paper or baking mat, pastry cutter (optional).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. First, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder) and zest the lemon into the mixture. Then in a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, egg, vanilla, and lemon juice. Cube the butter by cutting into small pieces with a sharp knife. I heard you can grate frozen butter or use a food processor to do this for you, I do it the old fashioned way. Then using a pastry cutter, cut the butter cubes into the dry mixture until it has a crumbly texture to it. You can also use your fingers to break up the butter until crumbly, but this might warm up the butter which will make your dough tough.

Finally, pour the wet ingredients along with the dried currants (or any dried fruit of choice) and fold in to mix. Here I eyeballed how much dried fruit I wanted, and this can be adjusted to taste. Avoid over-mixing, but allow a pliable dough to form. If your dough is too dry or the flour won’t mix in, add a few tablespoons of chilled cream a little at a time until the dough is knead-able: form it into a large ball.

Flatten the dough ball onto a baking sheet lined with Parchment Paper, so it forms a disc about an inch high. Then use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into triangles. If you have a scone pan, you can skip that step. Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack until golden brown. Eat hot from the oven!

Servings: 6

  • Calories: 401
  • Carbs: 44g
  • Total Fat: 18g
  • Protein: 9g

A Retrospective: My Top Wedding Planning Tips

Fresh from crossing the threshold from fiance to Mrs in 2014, I’m looking forward to my first year as married woman in 2015 and it’s safe to say things look a little different from here. Going from knowing absolutely nothing about weddings, to having planned and had my own (ten years in the making), it’s crazy how different I feel about it now! I was so completely overwhelmed when I started, that I was ready to give up and elope several times. But boy am I glad we stuck it out and had a great big party to celebrate! It was worth it.

10649856_10102958486236693_1545313371434746882_nHere is my perspective on the process from start to finish, from a wedding newbie starting from scratch, getting married in California and planning from Boston.

Overwhelmed: Where to Start? How about The Dress. I know it’s seems like a strange place to begin, how can you figure out what to wear if you literally have no other details? Well, it’s one of the only things you can do without a date. Most dresses can be altered to add or remove sleeves, for example, if you switch the time of year you get married. It’s also a way to ease in to the wedding world without spending money or making a big commitment, since most salons allow you to try on lots of dresses for free without purchasing right away, or at all.

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Find a Venue before you pick a Date. We went through the process of picking our ideal season, best dates and times of year, but when we started searching for venues, that all went out the window. We found the ideal place: a historic walled garden in the heart of downtown old town Monterey, CA: gorgeous, affordable, central: booked two years in advance. They had ONE DATE left for the entire year: August 9th, which at the time, was over a year away. It was the place, we took it. That was after we told most of our friends we would get married in the spring. Oh well! The bottom line: most venues book so far ahead or have seasonal restrictions, that sometimes compromising when you can get married will smooth the planning process.

Invite only as many people as you can feed. It sounds weird, but it’s not a good idea to invite more people, and expect a certain number of “No’s.” Set an early deadline for RSVP’s so you can have a good idea of headcount well before the wedding, and then invite more people as a second tier if you have less than desired. Being underspent is much less of a shock than overestimating.

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Have one thing that inspires you. For us, it was our cake. I posted about struggling to find a theme and a color scheme for our wedding ages ago, and how we saw a picture of a cake that gave us the inspiration to start planning. We decided to give that picture to the wonderful ladies at Just Cake and she did an excellent job replicating the original design and preserving our thematic inspiration.

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Seriously consider a Wedding Coordinator. I thought it would be a waste of money, with a hefty pricetag and not much value. I decided to hire a coordinator for “Day of” services when it became apparent that planning from afar I would need some boots on the ground with experience. I used Yelp to find Patty Speirs of Every Last Detail. For those unsure of what “Day of” services entail, Patty actually began coordinating two months in advance to get everything organized, interfaced with all my vendors to coordinate set up and clean up, directed the rehearsal, timed the walking down the aisle and the flow of the day, and so many more things that I would never have thought of doing. It might be different for someone else with a lot of wedding experience, but for me, I was able to enjoy the day and be worry-free: a priceless experience.

The best planning resources.

  1. Google Drive: We kept all our spreadsheets here: guest lists, research on florists and venues, made it easy to access from anywhere and plan whenever I could regardless of whether I was on a phone or computer. Not only that, many vendors emailed us documents, and it was much easier to add them directly to a Drive folder, rather than printing everything out.
  2. Here Comes the Guide: Although this is only relevant for brides planning a California, Chicago, Hawaii, or DC wedding, it’s the most comprehensive resource for venues, vendors, pricing, etc, that I found that isn’t totally overwhelming and not user-friendly. It put together details about venues that I didn’t even know I should be thinking about, but having those things itemized gave me the outline of a mental checklist to keep in mind when I visited places in person.
  3. Evernote. I use my iPhone a lot, and this tool was the best way to keep checklists organized, updated, and synced across my computer, phone, and tablet. When something struck me I could just write it down immediately, and it would be in one place, and still everywhere I needed it. It came in most useful toward the homestretch, when there were so many tiny details to think about.
  4. Pinterest. While there is an epidemic or Pinterest-perfect wedding wishes and cliches out there, it’s still a good aggregate of styles, colors, ideas, and DIY’s. On Pinterest I was able to find some wonderful ideas that I made my own, such as the aforementioned cake. I also found my invitation vendor by browsing Pinterest: Elli, which is a unique collective of designers who make customizable wedding stationery so gorgeous, I wish they did more than just weddings!

If you’re planning a wedding, good luck! I’m looking forward to NOT having to plan anymore, and just revel in memories of a happy day!

Venue: Historic Memory Gardens, Monterey, CA

Catering: Grapes of Wrath Catering

Photography: Michael Keel Photography

Cake: Just Cake

Flowers: Kate Healey of Big Sur Flowers

DJ: RockBottom DJ

Wedding Planning: Patty Speirs of Every Last Detail

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Healthy Weekend Brunch: Honey Quinoa Pancakes

I absolutely love experimenting with pancake recipes on a lazy weekend morning. Aside from waffles and anything with eggs, pancakes are probably my favorite breakfast food to both make and eat! I have shared a few other pancake recipes before, like Cherry Blueberry Chia Pancakes, and Chocolate Banana Protein Pancakes, but these are my favorite so far because they aren’t frilly with lots of add-ins (which you can do for any pancake, pretty much), they are basic and hearty and can be a good building block for lots of future deliciousness! The point of making these this weekend was to add a sweet breakfast counterpart to the fresh tart raspberries we got in our farm share this week.

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Unlike a lot of quinoa pancake recipes out there (I had no idea this was already a thing!) this one isn’t hardcore fitness-y carb-less gluten-free vegan (etc!) healthy. This is more about incorporating healthy twists into everyday food, rather than making sweeping changes. To make this recipe gluten free or vegan is pretty easy, just subbing the flour, using an egg substitute, and an oil instead of butter. My *husband* (I can say that now!) is lactose intolerant so we don’t drink milk, so this recipe uses Almond Milk, my favorite variety being an unsweetened Coconut Almond blend.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3-5 Tbsp Sugar (I used 5, but for a less sweet pancake, use 3)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used Coconut Almond Milk)
  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa (1/2 cup dry + 1 cup water)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

First, I cooked 1/2 cup dry quinoa and 1 cup water on the stove-top for 15 minutes. Bringing the water to a boil, I added the quinoa and lowered it to a simmer, lid on, for ten minutes. Then I uncovered the quinoa for the last five minutes. This was just to ensure that the quinoa wasn’t too watery, but not so dry that the bottom became crusty. While it was cooking I mixed all the dry ingredients in one bowl, then the wet ingredients (except the honey) in a separate bowl.

When the quinoa looks about finished, mix in the honey. Then mix it together with the wet ingredients before pouring in with the dry ingredients. Mix until combined, then cook in a hot skillet with melted butter: flip, and enjoy! We ate ours with the fresh raspberries and tart homemade plum jam.

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Personalized Canvas Bag with knit details

With the wedding over, I’m suddenly left with all this free weekend time on my hands! However, the project I’m posting about what one I did FOR my wedding, but I want to apply it pretty much everywhere now. The idea is simple: add a custom knit detail to any garment by knitting up a simple I-Cord on double pointed needles of any length desired, then using it to spell letters. I made initials to customize cute canvas bags I found at Micheal’s, and made one for each of my bridesmaids as gifts. 2014-05-26 18.16.17

First, I got some permanent fabric glue, a thin-gauge yarn that was actually Crochet Thread, and two double pointed needles (Size 1, 2.25mm). If you’ve never made an I-Cord, YouTube has some excellent videos. With this thread, I Cast-On 5 stitches for the best thickness/width that I liked, but this is also personal preference.

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Some letters are easy to make with one I-Cord, like “M” and “S.” However, for kicks I started with a “K,” and knit two I-cords of the same length and a one half the size. Depending on how large you want your letter to be, I made mine about six inches long for a sizable letter.

2014-05-18 16.27.08 Next, all I had to do was glue it down in the shape of a “K.” Then let dry at least 24 hours.

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Bags are just one thing you can customize with knit details, I envision writing a cursive phrase on a T-shirt or sweatshirt to jazz it up, a la A Beautiful Mess’ Sequin Phrase Sweatshirt DIY. So many crafts to do!

Cherry Blueberry Chia Pancakes: morning breakfast staple packs a protein punch!

On weekend mornings if I’m not working, I will often take the time to make one of my favorite meals of the day: breakfast. Unfortunately, at the end of the week the fridge is relatively barren, and I try to scrounge ingredients to make something. Pancakes are a particular favorite in my house, but it’s carb heavy and not particularly filling. I’ve tried various strategies to tackle this problem with moderate success (see my earlier Chocolate Chip Banana Protein Pancakes) but this time I really outdid myself. The result was fruity, dense but also fluffy, and very filling pancake that we ate with jam while going over our wedding TO DO list.

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The main barrier to my pancake making aspirations was a lack of milk, but I did have extra yogurt. I also planned to use Chia seeds to boost the protein content in my pancakes, and a lot of recipes I read used buttermilk with Chia seeds in pancakes. Since Yogurt+milk is one way to make a buttermilk substitute, I decided to try it. It was surprisingly delicious, considering the somewhat random assortment of ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup of Greek Yogurt (I used Siggi’s Blueberry, which contains 14g of Protein)
  • 1/2 cup milk, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped and pitted cherries

First, I mixed the wet ingredients: yogurt +1/2 the total milk (so 1/4 cup) with the Chia seeds, vanilla, and maple syrup. I let that mixture stand while I prepared the dry ingredients and chopped the cherries. This was the only time consuming part, but it was alright because during this time the Chia seeds soaking up the moisture and swelling to twice their size. This is why I only add half the milk, because otherwise the Chia seeds would soak up all the moisture and the pancakes would be very dry. Another solution would be to add less chia seeds of course, such as 1-2 Tbsp, but this would lower the overall protein content of the pancakes.

Next, mix the chia-yogurt mixture and pour it into the dry ingredients, along with the extra milk, the egg, and the fruit. Mix until just combined and cook in a hot buttered pan!

A good butter can definitely improve the taste and texture of pancakes, I fancy Amish Roll Butter, which I picked up at Penniman Hill Farm on a weekend getaway to the South Shore with the fiance. I hear that it’s not ACTUALLY Amish, but it hardly matters because it’s still hand-churned and absolutely more delicious than anything in the grocery store.

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