Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Day!

Some pictures of the snow and a cute puppy, taken early this morning...

This is the ginormous oak tree that pelted us with acorns for most of the fall. I am trying to snap a good picture of each season...

Cleo loves the snow--it helps tire her out, too...she'll chase snowballs all over the yard, or just roll in the stuff!

The path into the woods looked like something from Narnia...I fully expected Mr. Tumnus to step out and offer us a warm cup of tea!

The  gate was frozen shut and snow covered, so this was as far into the woods as we went... this time.

 Site of 2011 garden-to be!

Tasty FO: Homemade Pancakes! Aka, giving Aunt Jemima the Boot!

Everyone here loves pancakes (except me, but I like that they are fast, easy and universally accepted here). So, when I offered pancakes the other night everyone accepted with enthusiasm. So I went to the cabinet, pulled out the trusty box of pancake mix....and found that there was about a tablespoon left. Not good!

In the pan, looks good so far!
Pancakes are fast and easy to make--just add water! But no mix=grumpy hungry family. For some reason, it finally occurred to me to make my own. Isn't it strange--I am sure that mixes like this came about to help busy moms do things more quickly--but 2 generations later and it doesn't occur to me that you can actually make pancakes without a mix! Off to the cookbooks to find a recipe...

I ended up combining two from different books, because I didn't have some of the ingredients.Franken-pancakes turned out great, though.
I've made these twice since then and tweaked the recipe, which I am now declaring fool-proof!

Pour, Flip and Serve!
1 1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder

Combine these in a big bowl, then dump in:
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Whisk them all together and then cook in plenty of butter on a hot skillet. Give to howly family. Enjoy the silence and the smiles!

These actually turned out much better than any mix--very light and fluffy, I am guessing that's from the egg and baking soda. Since we go through a box of pancake mix a month, this is a fast, easy and cheap replacement, so we're kicking Hungry Jack and Aunt Jemima to the curb!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crafter Beware: Queen City Emporium Accused of Scamming Independent Artists

The Queen City Emporium made a big splash in the fine craft world in late 2010 when it offered to consign works for dozens of independent artists and bloggers. So far, over 100 artisans have come forward to complain about Queen City Emporium's handling of their merchandise and sales receipts, leaving many to wonder if they have any way of recouping these items.

The store, located in Springfield, MO offers everything from handcrafted soap to hairgoods, all created by independent crafters and small businesses.One crafter's story is here, others are cropping up all over the web.

Sounds like a great shop, right? Well, it would be if it had remained open! The store has been shuttered since January 18th, and owes merchandise, money or both to almost 100 crafters at last count.

Queen City Emporium stands accused of hurting more than just artisans and small businesses--who put their hearts and souls into every item them make. They are also unable to honor coupons sold by the popular Daily Deal site Groupon. Groupon offered coupons for Queen City Emporium, so anyone purchasing these vouchers are out $10 for each useless coupon they purchased.

While almost a hundred crafters have come forward to complain about Queen City Emporium, there has been no response from the owners. Calls to the business and emails go unanswered, and the shop retains both merchandise and cash. The Missouri Attorney General's office has already received over 50 complaints and more crafters continue to come forward.

If you have consigned items with Queen City Emporium, you can join a Facebook group of affected artisans to share experiences and get the latest updates.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Contest: Win a Free Knitting Kit from Sandra Singh!

One of the sweetest yarn shops online just got a little sweeter this week! Check out for the details on how you can win a kit to make one of these pretty beaded cuff bracelets:

Beaded cuff kit by Laura Nelkin
What I like about this kit from Laura Nelkin of Nelkin Designs:
  1. The cuffs are adorable -- and it is so cold outside some lace-y spring knitting would be nice! 
  2. If you want to learn how to knit lace, a small project like this is a good choice to start with.
  3. Ditto the above if you want to learn how to add beads to your knitting!
  4. Going out to the mailbox and finding one of these little! Sounds like fun to me!
  5.  Did I mention the yarn was the gorgeous 100% silk Andrea by Shaeffer Yarns?
Entering is free and easy--see details on SandraSingh's blog here
Good luck, I hope someone I know wins!

Boring disclosure stuff here! 
 I don't work for Sandra or her blog and did not receive any type of compensation...
though I did enter the contest  & would be thrilled to win!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

FO: Beaded Crosses

I was playing with beads and wire (while I had really planned on organizing these items into pretty jars). These crosses are made from nails, wire and beads, and took about 10 minutes each to make. I did a couple of varieties, and I bet they would do well at a spring or Easter craft fair.

26g silver wire + glass "e" beads

26 g wire + faceted beads

28g black wire with copper faceted beads

Thicker wire and stone beads
Fast and easy to make, tutorial on the way!

Looking for more fast and easy crafts?
5 Minute Homemade Playdoh
Catnip Mice & Storage Jar
Puppy Pull Toy
Bath Bombs with Recipe

Friday, January 21, 2011

FO Friday: Puppy Pull Toy

Directions for the puppy pull toy!
Finished puppy pull toy
I made a pair of these (with my 3 year old assistant) in about 10 minutes, so cheap, easy and the puppy loves them!(I saw some in PetSmart for $7 each, and made my own for $1 each).

Here's how:
Cut 1/8 yard of each of three different fleece fabrics. If you are lazy like me, you can have the lady at the fabric store cut them for you, making this even easier:
1/8 yard of 3 different fleece fabrics
 Stack the fabrics one on top of the other, then tie a knot in one end. Leave about 4 inches of fabric at one end for the fringe.

Tie a knot in one end.
Start braiding the strands together, just like you would braid hair. Braid super tightly, the tighter you braid, the more durable it will be. Have someone hold the other end while you braid to keep it even.
Make a super-tight braid.
Braid until the toy measures about 10" from the knot, then tie a second knot to secure the braid:

Tie a knot, then cut the rest of the fleece off.

Cut the remaining fleece away about 3" from the knot. Use scissors to cut fringe into both ends (make the fringe about 1" wide and 1" deep so it isn't easy to chew off.
Finished puppy toy!
Happy Puppy Action Shot!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Disney World Fanstasyland Expansion News: Double your Dumbo Fun!

Some good news on the Disney World Fantasyland expansion this week. If you've ever waited in line to ride Dumbo in the Magic Kingdom, you'll be happy with this news!

© Samantha McNesby 2010
When you think of Dumbo, do you think of cutie flying elephants, or do you think of 40 + minutes in the hot sun with a writhing toddler and hot, bored overheated big kids? Yeah, me too!

As part of the new Disney World Fantasyland Expansion, Dumbo is getting a twin...with any luck, this means the line will move more quickly. The other good news is that the new queue will be under a roof (good-bye sunburn) and packed with entertaining things to do in line (good-bye whining). 
I am glad to see these improvements are on the way, but that the beloved Dumbo experience will be left intact for the little ones to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FO: Quilted Tote Bag

I made this quilted tote bag for my mom--it is a great way to use up little pieces of cute fabrics and fun buttons.

This tote is lined with Warm & Natural cotton batting and a marbled solid fabric -- I hand quilted the top layer and the batting, then added the lining so it is smooth inside.

I may make another in vintage fabrics -- I have so many little snippets it will be a great way to put them to use.

The finished piece contains 30 different fabrics and over 50 embellishments, it was a lot of fun to make!

Need directions? 
Free pattern here!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big Disney world Announcement Tonight

Waiting for news of the "big" Disney World announcement today. Rumor has it is something to do with the Fantasyland re-boot that is scheduled:

© Samantha McNesby
Expect to see some info about a new show at the Cinderella Castle stage, and some info on the revised plan for Fantasyland. I have heard that my least favorite Fantasyland attraction may be on the way out, here's to hoping!

I'll update this post as soon as I hear something concrete....

Press Conference news update:

  • Ariel ride, Beast's castle complete with 'West Wing" and counter service/table service dining
  • Belle's cottage story/performance area announced
  • Snow White Mine Train ride and princess meet & greet replacing Snow White's Scary Adventures 
  • Star Tours reopens May 20th....I'll be there!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Free Pattern: Catnip Mice & Jar

Free Project! 
Here is a pattern of mine that is featured on

You'll get the pattern for the jar and the mice, so you can make a gift for your favorite kitty, or for the cat-lover in your life.Click here for the pattern, you'll have to register first, but the download is free.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

FO: Play Food Donuts

Finished set of four donuts for our play picnic basket. Includes whole donuts in two sizes, a donut half (which is the same as the middle loop of my Seymour the Seamonster pattern) and a donut hole.
Calorie-free crocheted donuts

These were fun and easy to make, pattern will be available soon. I did not embellish these with anything, though you could add bead "sprinkles" easily enough. These are primarily for my three year old, so I wanted them to be "toddler friendly".

Made from my favorite "go-to" toy yarn, good, old fashioned Red Heart, so they should stand up to quite a bit of abuse.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

FO: 7 Dishcloths in 7 Days

I made these using a simple diagonal garter stitch pattern, "Grandmother's Favorite", pattern here.

I did one in each color our Michaels had in stock, they look pretty in a stack, I think:

7 dishcloths in 7 days!

I love the "Twists" collection from Sugar n Cream. Inxpensive utility cotton you can find in just about any craft store, but it wears like iron. I need to make some more of these, my older ones are finally looking ratty (I haven't made any for the kitchen in several years, so it is time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Craft: Bath Bombs

Bath bombs make great gifts--but I've seen them sell for up to $5.00 each! It's pretty easy to make your own bath bombs. Here is a simple bath bomb recipe to try, just in time for Valentine's Day:

Make your own bath bombs at home.

Stuff you'll need:

Supplies (Makes approx. 4 round or 6 heart shaped bombs): 
  • 4 cups baking soda (same stuff you use for cooking)
  • 2 cups citric acid *
  • 2 cups Epsom salt
  • 2tbsp olive or other oil
  • Witch Hazel
  • Fragrance oil of your choice
  • Pink Food coloring (optional)

  1. Pour the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together thoroughly.
  2. Add fragrance oil, a few drops at a time, until you are happy with the amount of scent. For a batch this size, a teaspoon or so of skin safe fragrance is enough. You can also use essential oils, as long as they are skin safe.
  3. If you are using food coloring, add a few drops to the mixture and blend it in with the spoon. You can use your hands if you prefer.
  4. Pour the witch hazel into the spray bottle, and spray it onto the bath bomb mixture. Spray a very small amount at a time—if the mixture starts foaming, you are using too much. Use the spoon or your hands to blend in the with hazel, a few spritzes at a time. 
  5. Pick up a handful of the mixture and squeeze it in  your hands. It is ready to mold when it holds together like a clump of damp sand or snow. 
  6. Quickly pack some of the mixture into both halves of an ornament mold. Press it in firmly, and squeeze the halves together with firm pressure. Carefully remove the piece from the mold, and place it on a wire rack to dry.
    Your bath bombs should harden up and dry in about a day or so, depending on how much witch hazel you used, and how humid your home is.
  7. To use, simply drop one finished bomb in a tub of water, and enjoy!
*Citric acid can be found in the canning section of some grocery stores, in health food stores, or online. If you can’t find citric acid, you can replace it with a mixture of half cornstarch and half baking soda—your bombs will still work, they just won’t fizz when you drop them in the tub!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crafty Wishlist: "Adorkable" monster

Found this cute knitting pattern (which is free, yay!) on Pockets and Parking Garages. Totally cute and sure to be a fast knit, since it is in the round. This may be my next carpool project!

FO: Fetchings from Knitty

I love this pattern--it is my "go to" fingerless glove pattern, since it works up so quickly and fits just about everyone. The pattern is Fetching from the Summer 2006 issue of Knitty.

The yarn is a rich red cashmere -- "Pure Cashmere" from Debbie Bliss. Super squishy and soft. The put-up for Pure Cashemere is pretty short--under 50 yards per skein, so I used two full skeins and broke into a third. I did add a few extra rows of cabling, though so may have made it with just two skeins if I followed the pattern as written.
Gifted to my favorite sister-in-law.

Side note about the yarn. If you asked me if I liked Debbie Bliss yarns, I would probably say they are "OK", but after reviewing the projects I have completed in the last few years, I realize that while I buy DB yarns as much as any other brand, I tend to use them more frequently -- so I guess they are more of a favorite than I thought!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

5 Minute Homemade PlayDoh

This took about 5 minutes to make, with three little helpers, and they have been playing with it for over an hour, so it is a great "snow day" craft. I work at home, which means I don't have to worry about going out in the snow...but it also means I still need to work even though all the girls are home.

Here's how we made it:
1 cup flour
1 cut table salt
1/2 cup water * I used rosewater because it smells nice, but plain old tap water will work as well.
Food coloring or Koolaid powder (optional, you can also make things with the white clay, then paint when they are dry).

To make:
Dump the flour and salt into a big bowl. Add the water and mix until blended. Divvy up into portions and give each kid one to knead. Kneading will activate the gluten in the flour and make a smooth clay.

As you knead, add a few drops of food coloring to each ball. Use a different color for each. I used food color leftover from dying wool (it is actually Easter Egg dye).

Adding food coloring.
Once you are happy with the colors, divide the clay between the kids and sneak off for a cup of coffee or to work (I did both!)

Finished clay:5 minutes from ingredients to done!
When the kiddos are done, let the clay air dry overnight, or if you just can't wait, bake it in the oven at 200 degrees for about a half hour.

This can be used at other times of year, like to make these cute Mickey Mouse pumpkins for Halloween.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Craft: Soap Petals

 These pretty soaps are fast and easy to create, and make great Valentine's Day gifts--just add a handful to a pretty glass jar or organza bag. . Each handmade soap is designed to be single use, so they are perfect for the guest bath, too. I like to use a heavily floral scented oil to match the petals, but other fragrance oils will work as well. You can find the soap and fragrance you need for this project at or at your favorite craft store.

Things you need: (Makes approx. 50 handmade soap petals)
1 bag of faux rose petals in any color
4 ounces of clear glycerin soap base
 Rose-scented fragrance oil (or other scent of your choice)
Microwave Safe Bowl or glass measuring cup
Rack for Drying

Faux petals come in a wide variety of colors.

Things to do:
1. Cut the soap into 1” chunks, and place in a microwave safe bowl
2. Microwave soap for 30 seconds, and stir. Continue heating until the soap is entirely liquid.
3. Stir in fragrance (about 1 tsp, adjust to your preferred scent level).
4. Use your fingers or tweezers to dip the rose petals into the soap one at a time to coat.
5. Place on the rack to dry.
6. Once dry, you can put the petals in a decorative bowl, or package them in cello or organza bags to give as gifts or favors.
7. To use, wash your hands with a petal. Discard after using.

Project Notes:
You can vary the scent and color of your finished handmade soap petals by using different base petals and scents—just be sure any product you use is skin safe.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seymour the Seamonster Amigurumi

This is a crocheted sea monster in 3 parts. I made him to look like he is swimming on the desktop. He is made from LB Cottonease and a little leftover Cotton Cashmere from Debbie Bliss.

Side view

I used my donut pattern to make the middle section, it worked perfectly. Each section is weighted at the base to help him stand up. Fast, easy and fun!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Slytherin Tote Bag

This bag is for my niece -- she loves Slytherin! I had a great time knitting it and may do a Ravenclaw for myself soon. I used Lion Brand Woolease in a very lightly varigated pine green and Brown Sheep naturespun in natural. I tried it with a grey and a silver, but didn't care for either--the design stood out better with the natural.
The pattern is HP House Fairisle Pouch Bags by Rosemary Waits. You can find it on Ravelry (and, yay, its free!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Redwork Embroidery Version of "Tea Time"

his is a smallish wallhanging (about 14" x 20"). I used my favorite sketch from the vintage crayon quilt and re-interpreted it into redwork. Added a variety of pink and red fabrics and a little dark pink emboidery floss and here is the result

Using Vintage Linens for Crafting

This quilt combines a bunch of different things--new and old fabrics, traditional quilt blocks, non traditional quilt blocks and basic quilting techniques.

This piece is made from new and vintage fabrics. The blocks are hand drawn, but inspired by the old embroidery images from the 30s and 40s. I used little pieces of old garments and scraps for the blocks, and new fabric for the backing and borders.

The blocks were sketched then transferred to white cotton. I outlined everything with black micron pens, then colored in each square with fabric crayons. A quick press to set the color and this piece is ready to be washed and used like any other quilt.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spinning Baby Alpaca

Washed some of the alpaca fleece from "Mr. Brownie Pants". It is his first shearing and is heavenly soft! Here he is with Madeline:

Spinning this on the drop spindle and trying to decide if the yarn wants to be a hat or fingerless mittens for one  of the girls...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cute Little Nameless

Meet our newest family member:

She is about 11 weeks old, and is coming home on Saturday. We have until then to find a great name for her, anyone have any ideas?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

FO: A very warm cowl!

This is my version of the lovely "Autumn Orange Cowl" by Melynda Bernardi. It was a super fast knit, and each of the girls has already worn it outside at least once. The yarn is Twinkle's Soft Chunky, so the whole thing is heavy but soft, and very, very warm!

This isn't artfully arranged, the cowl was chucked onto the snow by an overheated 7 year old!
 Making another, super warm for mornings and a great way to use up small bits of superbulky yarn.

Monday, January 3, 2011

FO: Knitty's "3 Tams"

This is one of the "3 Tams" from am pretty sure it is Tam B. I used Noro Kureyon and Brown Sheep Lambs Pride Worsted.

I loved making this, and best of all, Sarah loves wearing it! I blocked it over a big dinner plate. Since it is for an 8 year old, I ended up running some clear elastic through the ribbing to make it fit better. She has been wearing it everywhere, and it has held up beautifully. I like the finished look and LOVE that this pattern called for worsted weight--it worked up so quickly!

Here is the front view, modeled by Sarah, who is patiently waiting to get back to snowman-building:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Raking Leaves or "An Exercise in Futility"

Raking Leaves:

Little Girls Appear:

A giant dog appears:


Annnnnnndd...time to rake again!!